Buyer Beware- Before You Hire a GC, Check References!

As an interior designer, it is common to work with the client’s general contractors on a project. At one point in my life, I was an installation contractor and project manager for one of the leading architectural sign manufacturers. Through this experience I have an appreciation for quality sub-contractors and how hard they work, but a recent project left me with the importance of selecting your general contractor with due diligence.

Colorado is not a state that requires a general contractor to carry a bond. A “Performance Bond”  protects the rights and interests of the client and a requirement in many states. As a result, if a GC does not complete the work to the client’s satisfaction, the only course of action in Colorado, is to take the contractor to small claims court. But even if you are awarded a settlement, in many cases, you will need to hire a lawyer to recover damages.

A recent commercial project was quite eye opening to the amount of damage an inexperienced general contractor can cause. The project required walls to be removed, new walls constructed, a slate foyer to be laid, carpet installed, lights rewired and fresh paint throughout the 6,000sf office space. Once the contract was signed -I noticed the GC was rarely at the job site. Instead, unbeknownst to the client or myself, was that the GC was trying a “new format” of placing one of his subs in charge of the project. It wasn’t long before the electrician was arguing with the sheet contractors, the painters were upset with the carpet installers, and both the client and I were upset with the lack of professionalism between the crews.

The workmanship was well below accepted standards…the slate floor was laid unevenly, had to be removed, repurchased and installed a second time. The kitchen walls were built “out of square” and needed to be reconstructed, and eventually when the general contractor -tired of hearing the complaints to correct the issues, elected to walk off the job. The work he promised to correct was never completed, although it was given in writing, and an entirely new crew had to be hired to fix a long list of issues.

This was the first time I had ever experienced such poor workmanship and the inability of a professional to take responsibility for their work. In the end, all the issues were corrected, but that also meant that it was paid for twice. There are many quality general contractors in Colorado and while the project may cost more compared to the other contractors, a good GC is worth their weight in gold.