If you want to start a house flipping project or home renovation project, you are probably thinking of hiring someone to help you with the work.  A general or specialty contractor is the perfect person to help you with these projects.  However, before selecting a contractor, you should first understand what exactly they are and are not. 

A general contractor is a licensed professional accredited in your local jurisdiction to perform construction.  The type of license they hold will determine the type  work they can do.  For example, a contractor with a housing license will not be able to build a skyscraper; but a contractor that holds a license to build a skyscraper would be allowed to build a home.

Typically, if you have many different aspects and trades going on in your house flipping or home renovation projects, you will probably want to hire a general contractor to help you organize your project.  But, if you only need help with one specialty trade – like drywall and framing – you can hire that specialty contractor directly yourself.

What should you be looking for in a contractor?

An important factor when choosing a contractor is the amount of experience they have in the type of work you are looking to have them do.  A plumber who has worked only on skyscrapers in your area for more than 25 years might not necessarily be a better choice than a plumber who has only worked on homes for 5 years.  You also want a contractor with experience specific to your geographic location.  A good contractor in Florida might not be a good contractor in Illinois.

Another important factor to look for is to see if the contract is responsible and responsive.  That means a contractor should respond to your all of your questions and requests within a timely manner (especially if there was a deadline posted on that response) and respond with an answer that makes sense.  Even though this sounds pretty simple, not all contractors can do that.

If they cannot respond in a professional manner, your house flipping project or home renovation project probably will not run professionally.  If you ask a millworking contractor for a proposal to add crown molding to your house and you know it will cost $5,000 and take 3 weeks but they say something totally different, they might not have understood what was going on in your project which should immediately raise a red flag.

Finally, and probably most importantly, you will want to get everything in writing with your contractor.  Having a written contract with the contractor (that is why they are called contractors, after all) that puts into writing everything you want them to do and everything you do not want them to do is crucial if something goes wrong with your project.  Put important and obvious things in your contract like the schedule and the budget so everyone can have an idea of what the scope of work is.  Also, put not so obvious things in the contract so if something unexpected does occur you are prepared for it.  Do not hide information from your contractor.  The more information they know, they better they will be able to serve your needs.