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How to Choose a General Contractor in Phoenix

When beginning a large home improvement project, one of the first questions you may consider is “how to choose the right general contractor for my project?

Our quick how-to guide will answer the most pertinent questions on choosing a home remodel contractor in Phoenix.

Where can I find reputable contractors in Phoenix?

Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to find a general contractor who could be the right fit for your project. The following sources can help put you into contact with the right professional:

  • Online directories

Online directories are useful as they can provide a list of general contractors in your local area.  You may reach out to them directly, ask questions, do additional research, and choose the one that is the right fit for you.

  • Local recommendations

Many homeowners prefer to rely on local recommendations from their social network when looking to hire a general contractor. This is preferred by some people because local recommendations are based on actual experience from reliable sources. You can gain information about the contractor that you might not found anywhere else such as how they deal with customers, the quality of their workmanship, reliability, and trustworthiness – all critical information you need to choose the right contractor.

  • Professional associations

General contractors listed on professional associations are a reliable indication of how committed they are to their industry and abiding by a professional code of conduct. Use this source particularly when you prioritize professionalism in the general contractor you choose.

  • Google search

Google search is easily the number one source of information for almost any topic under the sun including ‘how to find a general contractor in Phoenix’. Key in your search phrase, for example – general contractor in Phoenix, AZ – and almost instantaneously you will have a list of local general contractors to contact.

Ask for written estimates from the contractor you choose

Always ask a general contractor for a written estimate of the home improvement project. This is important as the quote must fit in with your budget requirements. So what information should a written estimate contain?

This written estimate should include:

  • Complete description of the project: Only items relevant to the work that you require should appear on this list. This may seem like a given but oftentimes homeowners can be billed for work they have yet to specifically ask for.
  • The price quoted should be one of the most important pieces of information in a written estimate. If you have gathered a few written estimates to compare, you can quickly work out what the average cost of the project will be and weed out those general contractors who overcharge or charge less, which may raise questions about the quality of their work.
  • Building permits: If you are planning a major overhaul of your home, you will most likely need to obtain building permits before work can begin. If the general contractor is required to obtain required permits to ease the burden on the homeowner, this responsibility usually comes at an additional fee and should be clearly stated on the written estimate.
  • Materials: A useful tip is to ask for materials to be included if possible. This benefits you as you avoid the general contractor using the cheap and low-quality materials.

How do I compare quotes from different contractors?

Having more than one quote to compare from various general contractors can seem like a daunting prospect but it need not be. Applying the following tips can be useful in deciding which contractor to choose.

Break down the costs

Look at the items listed on each quote, what does each contractor charge for? Are there any variations or exclusions? Pay attention to any indication that you may be charged for hidden costs.

Compare the quality of materials to be used

Make sure you understand what materials you will be paying for.  If you require a specific material, the cost should reflect this. Some contractors may use poor-quality materials to lower the cost of the quote. Make sure you are happy with the materials itemized on your quote.

Compare the scope of the project

Does each written estimate outline the same scope of the project? The scope should detail the size of the project and note what tasks will be undertaken.

Compare the timeline for completion

Timelines for the project are an important consideration as they tell you how long the general contractor expects the project to take. You want to look for a reasonable amount of time. A quick timeline may indicate a rushed job putting into question the quality of work done and too long a timeline may be inconvenient and invariably raise the cost of the job.  Make sure to ask the contractor about any questions that come up during this review.

How to narrow down your search?

  • Licensing

Choosing a licensed general contractor is recommended. A licensed contractor indicates that he or she is a professional with the required credentials, knowledge, skill set, and experience.
Curious to know if your chosen general contractor is licensed? Check here.

  • Qualifications

Does the contractor have the qualifications for the job you require done? Some home improvement projects require specialized knowledge like electrical and plumbing work. Here’s how to check the qualifications of your shortlisted general contractor: ask for testimonials, before and after images, or request references from previous projects.

  • Experience

Is the contractor experienced in the work you need to do? For example, if you’re replacing tile flooring with hardwood floors, make sure to find a general contractor with the relevant expertise in installing hardwood floors. To check the experience of your contractor, review their services, and see what is included in each.

  • Project Approach 

How they approach a project is another factor to look out for. You will want to find a general contractor who looks out for your best interests, is proactive in dealing with challenges, and provides updates on the progress of the job.

  • References

The best way to know what to expect when working with a general contractor is to ask previous clients about their experience. References provide insight into the quality of their work, their professionalism, and how well they communicate.

What red flags to watch for?

Knowing what to look for in a general contractor is important but so too is identifying warning signs that indicate it is best to stay away from this contractor. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Inadequate references

Experienced and reputable general contractors will have multiple references which they are more than happy to share with you. Be wary of a general contractor who can’t produce any or only one or two. Make sure to contact the referees to confirm their positive experiences.

  • A demand for upfront payment

Avoid a general contractor who demands 100% upfront payment before they begin working on the project. It is common practice for a deposit to be required to start the project and for payments to be made in installments as the work progresses. 

  • Lack of transparency in pricing

A professional general contractor will provide a detailed written estimate with a complete breakdown of the various costs of the project. Any extra charges must be made clear. Always ask for clarification if you are uncertain about an item on the quotation.

How to manage your project after choosing a contractor

The best way to avoid a stress-riddled home renovation is to ensure an effective collaboration with your general contractor. Successful collaboration works towards meeting goals on time and within budget as well as limiting mistakes. This is easily managed in the following ways.

  • Establish regular meetings

Regular meetings aim to provide feedback on how well the project is unfolding and to solve any problems that may hold up progress. 

  • Set out clear expectations

Discuss your goals and expectations with your contractor so both parties are clear on what needs to be done. Clarity is important to limit uncertainties and unnecessary costly mistakes (both in time and expense).

  • Encourage open communication

Poor communication whether from the owner or contractor increases frustration levels and ultimately can really hinder the home renovation process.  Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor to explain complex concepts in layman’s terms so no misunderstandings occur.

  • Provide prompt responses

Many situations may arise when a contractor will need your feedback on a matter and you must be available to respond to their questions in a timely way. For example, an unexpected delay or problem may cause a delay in the progress of the project until a solution is found.  If the homeowner is not responsive, the project’s progress may slow down or even come to a halt.


Do I need a licensed contractor for my project?

A licensed contractor is preferable, particularly for major makeovers. A license is a reliable indicator that the contractor is a professional at what they do and you can generally expect a high quality of workmanship.

What’s the typical budget range for similar projects in Phoenix?

Home improvement projects depend largely on the scope of the project and the materials used. The more involved the project is and the higher the quality of materials, the higher the budget will need to be. Speaking to a few general contractors will give you a sense of the price range you can expect to pay for the project you have in mind.

You can use our calculator here to get an estimate of costs for your desired project.

What should be included in a clear and detailed contract?

Essential elements expected in a contract with a general contractor include the name of both parties as well as the person authorized to make decisions, the scope of the project and work schedule, as well as the cost and payment terms.

Why should I hire a licensed contractor?

Hiring a general contractor for your home renovation can make all the difference to the success of your home improvement goals.  General contractors are not only experienced in managing home remodel projects, they can help save you money, carry out work safely, and give you peace of mind that the renovation has been completed successfully.

Finding the right general contractor for your home renovation project will help streamline and simplify a process that is notorious for being somewhat slow and tedious for those who don’t have relevant experience and know-how.

For the best outcomes, trust in the experience and professionalism of AZ Neighbor – an experienced and reputable general contractor in Phoenix.