I read one of he post here in BP which talked about what type of contractors not to use ( retail contractors and remodel) when doing a rehab. I am building my team of contractors ( painters, carpet etc.) I used the sight thumbtack to do my first two rehabs and it was quite interesting. On the first rehab I hired a contractor for the kitchen, baths and floor and he took the entire summer to do the work and even then he didn't finish he just disappeared (no I did not pay him all of the money). The second contractor that I hired came in and completed his job and even corrected mistakes that he made.
On my second whole house rehab I used a retail contractor and I pushed to keep cost down by purchasing my materials and stay within my timeline ( no that didn't work too well) I will be embarking on another rehab soon and I need to find honest contractors who work with rehabbers to help keep cost down and stay on the time line.
I live in the DMV ( DC, Maryland , Virginia area ) and need some good recommendations. I keep hearing that the good ones stay busy. So what's a girl to do? HELP!! Suggestions, comments please BP community.
@Emma T. it is a huge learning curve and there is no right answer. I think at first you need to be more hands on and be the general contractor but on the other hand if you can find a good general contractor then you only have to manage one person and they have to mange all the other sub contractors. I would be careful and dont always look at the cheapest bid as the best. Give the contract a small down payment and when a certain aspect of the job is done release more funds. Never give 1/2 up front and never pay the final bill till all the work is done. You and your contractor need to be on the same page so a contract thats DETAILED should be in place. This way there can be fewer misunderstandings. You will always make mistakes and get taken advantage of thats part of the business but if you follow the few rules above you can limit your risk and potential financial loss.
For my rehabs, I go with my property manager's go-to contractor. I think he may be a bit on the pricey side, but the management company feeds him a lot of business, so he doesn't want to loose their trust. Plus, he's been pretty fast, and complete's everything in a couple of weeks. Also, that contractor does pretty good work, and after doing a few rehabs for me, he understands what I'm looking for.
I think the old adage goes "you get what you pay for." After seeing and hearing a lot of horror stories about flakey contractors, I figure that even though I may be paying 20% more than I could, I know that the unit will be tenant ready in less than 30 days, and I don't have to worry about someone not finishing, sub-par work, or other issues.
In your case, if you have a property manager, see who they use on their projects. Reputation is built through experience, and experience through volume. PMs get a ton of volume, so they're a good resource. Even if you are self managing, you may try to just call some PMs in the area and ask for contractor recommendations.
As for process, I would recommend that when you do find a contractor that's highly reputable, you give them general guidelines, and let them do what they do best. Don't be overly-prescriptive on types of materials, because that interferes with their supply chains and internal methods. Instead, simply offer them the look and outcome you are going for, and let them do the rest. Don't say "I want you to use these materials in this way for this price and this timeline." Instead tell them "I'm looking for neutral tones, hardy material, and this budget...what are my options?" After that, step back and be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Remember, they do this a lot more than you do, and are probably better at it than you too! If they enjoy the freedom you give them, then they are more likely to want to work with you in the future, and start moving you up the list of clients to keep happy.
On the whole house rehab I had 4 estimates and had each contractor come up with an SOW and support their numbers. I ended up hiring a general contractor and I checked his references, saw pictures on previous jobs, a copy of his license and insurance and came to a price. We had four draws through out the project and he had to sign a mechanics lean for the final draw and walk through. Prior to his final draw we had a walk through to discuss things that still needed to be done prior to the last draw.
I learned after the first house that I needed to be more hands on rather than let the contractor do what he wanted when he wanted. It is indeed a learning process.
Thanks for your comment Alex!
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