13 Tips For Finding The Best Allston Residential General Contractor

13 Tips For Finding The Best Allston Residential General Contractor

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For most first time home buyers or first-time homeowners, the hardest part of any condo renovation project isn’t the work itself, it’s finding a great, competent and reliable Boston general contractor to do the job. Installing floors, tearing down a wall or retiling the bathroom is simple compared with the struggle of hiring a quality general contractor who will perform at best from start to finish.

Everyone has heard stories about crazy general contractors who took apart the kitchen and never returned or projects that went 300% over budget from the contractor’s original estimate.

Even with a good Boston general contractor, renovation can be very stressful, expensive and involve unpleasant surprises, such as rotted frames, crazy leakage inside the walls that are revealed when tiles is removed or dangerous electrical wiring or leaking pipes behind walls.

Choosing the right general contractor can make the difference between a successful home or condo renovation project and an awful But even for experienced renovators, finding the right general contractor can be a challenge.

If you’re doing a renovation project, you’ll need a general contractor, who may hire subcontractors for specialty work such as plumbing and electrical. Homeowners with renovation experience sometimes work as their own general contractors, hiring specific tradespeople for each job. While this may save you money, it can be time-consuming and will mean multiple contractor searches instead of just one, since you’ll have to find a specialist for each smaller job.

Whichever way you go, there are steps you can take to find the right BOSTON general contractor while still keeping your budget – and your sanity – under control. Here are 10 tips to help you find the best general contractor for your home renovation project.


Ask friends, relatives, and co-workers for references. People in your neighborhood who have done similar projects are your best sources. If you know people in the building trades, ask them, too. Employees of local hardware stores may also be able to provide referrals.

Interview at least three general contractors. Ask a lot of questions and get a written bid from each one. When you compare bids, make sure each one includes the same materials and the same tasks, so you’re comparing apples and apples. Get three bids even if you have a contractor you like because you’ll learn something from each interview. “Don’t be afraid to negotiate,” While you might do some haggling at the interview, be prepared to do most of the negotiation after you get the bid and before you sign the contract.

Always expect a general contractor to be too busy to start right away. “The best folks are the busy ones,”

Ask what work will be done by the general contractor’s employees and what work will be done by subcontractors. Asking for an employee list to make sure the contractor really has the employees he says he does and won’t be using casual labor hired off the street.


Check licenses, complaints and litigation history. General contractors and most subcontractors should be licensed, although the procedure varies by state and municipality. Check the disciplinary boards, BBB and local court records for problems. Ask the contractor for a copy of his license and copies of the licenses of the major subcontractors who will work on the job.


Check references. Talk to both clients and subcontractors, who can tell you if the contractor pays them on time. “See if you can talk to current customers,”


Sign a detailed contract. Make sure your contract spells out exactly what will be done, including deadlines, progress payments, the exact materials that will be used down to the model number and who will provide which materials. “If you don’t have it documented, it’s your word against theirs,” If the builder’s contract is not detailed enough, create your own or provide addendums. Any change in the renovation project, whether you change your mind about products or ask for additional projects, should generate a written change order that includes the new work, new materials and new cost.


Get the proper permits. Nearly all home renovation projects require permits. Many fly-by-night companies, as well as some licensed contractors, will suggest the job be done without permits to save money. Not only does that violate local ordinances and subject you to fines if you’re caught, it means the work will not be inspected by the city or county to make sure it’s up to code. Be wary of contractors who ask you to get the permits – that’s the contractor’s job. Unpermitted work can also cause problems when it’s time to sell.


Don’t pay more than 10 percent of the job total before the job starts. You don’t want a contractor to use your money to finish someone else’s job. Christian says he will occasionally ask for up to 30 percent if expensive materials are needed immediately. The contract should include a payment schedule and triggers for progress payments.


Don’t sign a contract for your entire renovation budget. No matter how careful you and the contractor are in preparing for the job, there will be surprises that will add to the cost. “They can’t see through walls,” Hicks says of contractors. Expect to spend at least 10 percent to 15 percent more than your contract.


Negotiate ground rules. Discuss what hours the contractor can work at your home, what kind of notice you’ll get, what bathroom the workers will use and what will be cleaned up at the end of every workday.

Communicate With General Contractor All The Time

Talk to the contractor frequently. For a big job, you may need to talk every day. If you see a potential issue, speak up immediately. Something that is done wrong will be harder to fix later after your contractor has packed up and moved on to his next job.

Make Sure They Have Insurance Coverage

Verify insurance coverage. Know what is covered by your homeowners insurance and what is covered by your contractor’s business insurance. Get a copy of the company’s insurance policy.

Lien Releases

Get lien releases and receipts for products. If your contractor doesn’t pay his subcontractors or suppliers, they can put a mechanic’s lien against your house. You want copies of receipts for all the materials, plus lien releases from all the subcontractors and the general contractor before you pay. You can ask for some of those when it’s time for progress payments.

Final Payment

Don’t make the final payment until the job is 100 percent complete. Contractors are notorious for finishing most of the job and then moving on before they get to the final details. Don’t make the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work and have all the lien releases and receipts.


Boston (pronounced Listeni/ˈbɒstən/ BOSS-tən) is the capital and most populous city[8] of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. Boston is also the seat of Suffolk County, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999.[9] The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 667,137 in 2015,[10] making it the largest city in New England and the 23rd most populous city in the United States.[2] The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.7 million people in 2014 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country.[5] Alternately, as a Combined Statistical Area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.1 million people, making it the sixth-largest as such in the United States.[11]

One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England.[12][13] It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. Upon U.S. independence from Great Britain, it continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a center for education and culture.[14][15] Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, Boston has expanded beyond the original peninsula. Its rich history attracts many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone drawing over 20 million visitors per year.[16] Boston’s many firsts include the United States’ first public school, Boston Latin School (1635),[17] first subway system, the Tremont Street Subway (1897),[18] and first public park, Boston Common (1634).

The area’s many colleges and universities make Boston an international center of higher education,[19] including law, medicine, engineering, and business, and the city is considered to be a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, with nearly 2,000 startups.[20][21][22] Boston’s economic base also includes finance,[23] professional and business services, biotechnology, information technology, and government activities.[24] Households in the city claim the highest average rate of philanthropy in the United States;[25] businesses and institutions rank among the top in the country for environmental sustainability and investment.[26] The city has one of the highest costs of living in the United States[27][28] as it has undergone gentrification,[29] though it remains high on world livability rankings.[30]