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Building a Home: The Qualities of a Great General Contractor

by Andra Hopulele
4 min. read

If you’ve decided to build your own home, or even remodel your existing property, chances are you’ll be looking to hire a general contractor to help you out. While there are a great many general contractors out there, it can be a struggle to find the right one for you. However, all great general contractors share a number of qualities. Here’s what to look out for when you’re hiring.

Excellent Communication

No matter how much praise a general contractor receives, if you don’t click, it can be difficult to work together. Everyone has their own needs and desires, and we all work in different ways.

It’s well worth interviewing several general contractors before making your choice, and seeing which you’re most comfortable with. You’ll probably be working quite closely together on your project, so it’s essential that you’re on the same page. You need to feel comfortable with one another so that every detail gets discussed, and any issues are addressed in a timely manner.

A general contractor with great communication skills will adapt to your way of working. If you require frequent updates, they’ll happily provide. On the other hand, if you’d prefer them to get on with it, and only come to you with direct, to the point queries, they will understand.

Ability to Listen

Great communication skills are only useful if your general contractor is able to listen to your needs. You’ll spend quite some time discussing your project, and they’ll need to take in all the information so that mistakes aren’t made further down the line. A good listener will also ask several questions, to be sure you’re on the same page.

It’s your home, so it’s important that you get the loudest say. However, while a great contractor won’t try to convince you to change your plans just to make their job easier, they may offer alternatives that are more cost-effective, safer, or simply more feasible.

Specific Experience

For the most part, it’s important to find a contractor that has experience in all fields of construction. While they might not be carrying out all the work themselves, they will need to plan time frames, and organize their subcontractors so that no one is in anyone else’s way. As such, it’s important that the general contractor has the experience to understand each aspect of the project.

Not all homes are built the same, however, and your project might require some more specific skills. If you’re planning on building a passive house, for example, it’s important that you find a general contractor with experience in this field.


A great general contractor should be flexible in that they have the ability to master numerous skill sets, and are able to take on any part of the project if needs be. But, flexibility also means that they can adapt to delays and any other issues that may crop up.

They’ll be willing to put in the extra hours needed to get the job done on time, especially if the next part of the project relies on the previous part being completed. For example, they will work late to finish plastering so that the decorator can start as arranged the next day.

Honesty and Integrity

Some general contractors will take on too much work and, as a result, will try to cut corners to get the job done and out of the way quicker. They might use inferior materials for example, if the ones you had agreed on take too long to arrive. However, great general contractors are more interested in completing the job as agreed, to a high standard, rather than squeezing in as much work as possible.

Honest contractors will go through all the materials with you in advance and agree on the pricing. They’ll provide invoices to prove their costs and that the correct materials were used, and agree on a fair payment schedule. Most importantly, they won’t overstretch themselves with too many jobs at once, enabling them to dedicate themselves to your project.

A Good Reputation

So far this all sounds great, but the only way you can prove that a contractor has all of these qualities is to do your research. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to leave a review for a business, service, or contractor that you’ve used, so be sure to check online reviews while browsing for a general contractor.

But, it’s worth going an extra step. All great contractors will be happy to provide references from previous clients, and many will even put you in touch. It’s a good idea to speak with former clients, and if possible, take a look at the work carried out. In this way, you can ask about your concerns, and see recent evidence that your general contractor is as great as they seem.

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