December 18th, 2010
General Contractors: What's the big deal??
If you've ever looked into home renovation, you know the term "General Contractor" gets thrown around without much supporting information to explain what that really means. Construction companies are a dime-a-dozen, but finding a licensed General Contractor, however, is a bit more difficult and far more worthy of your time and money than wasting it on someone who isn't. Not all companies take the time to obtain their state's required licensure responsibilities, and simply skate by with haphazard work for homeowners who don't know any better. To help bring a necessary, added level of understanding about GCs (and the importance of using one), the team at greyHouse has taken some of the most important information - and most frequently asked questions - about General Contractors and put it in a no-nonsense format for homeowners to take advantage of. If you're among the many considering home remodeling, you'll want to read the following and heed the advice of practiced professionals in the industry before selecting a company to work on your home.
-- What (exactly) is a General Contractor?
-- Officially, a General Contractor is a business (or individual on behalf of a business) who has passed the state licensing exam in the category of their trade and maintains an active license allowing them to contract construction-related work. Just because a company refers to themselves as "General Contractors" does NOT, however, mean they are licensed -- and this is an extremely important factor when choosing a home remodeling company.
-- Why is it important to use a Licensed General Contractor for my home remodeling project?
-- Anyone can can call themselves a "General Contractor," but that doesn't necessarily mean they hold a license to practice -- and its the licensed ones that are the companies to look for if you're considering home remodeling. To become licensed, a company "qualifier," as they're known, must take and pass a thorough examination testing him or her on a multitude of different building-related topics...and it's not easy. Everything from foundation to roofing, joists to gypsum, and building codes to OSHA standards are fair game on the exam, so you can rest assured that if you've found a licensee they're competent in all aspects of the construction process. "Are you a Licensed General Contractor?" is perhaps the most important question to ask a company before contracting them for your home remodeling project; do you really want someone working on your biggest investment who couldn't pass the test, or worse, doesn't care enough to take it??
-- When do I need a General Contractor?
-- The alarming reality is that in the state of North Carolina, the maximum threshold for license requirement is a whopping $30,000.00 per project (South Carolina, for example, with whom North Carolina reciprocates licensure with, has a limit of just $2,500.00 per project). What's the problem with such a high limit? A limit that high leaves A LOT of room for non-licensed contractors to legally manage projects without having to pass the examination and prove competence in their areas of work; meaning you could be paying someone who doesn't hold a license $29,000 to remodel your bathroom or finish your basement -- and it's perfectly legal! Don't assume that because your project is substantial the company you're thinking of hiring actually holds a license; always ask for a license number and investigate it's legitimacy on your own before hiring a company for your home remodeling project.
-- Are there different levels of General Contractors?
-- There are different types of General Contractor Licenses, ranging from specific trades (like Plumbing and HVAC) to general Building. Building is considered the highest of the types, as it licenses a company for any type of work on both commercial and residential property. Above the state licensing level, there is a National level of accreditation for General Contractors, NASCLA (National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies), which qualifies individuals for licenses in multiple states.
-- How can I find out if a company is truly a Licensed General Contractor?
-- For the state of North Carolina, visit www.nclbgc.org and search the name of a Qualifier (individual) or Licensee (company).
*greyHouse Inc. is a Licensed General Contractor in the state of North Carolina, License #70042, and holds both a Building and Residential Contractor License. Within the company, all greyHouse Inc. owners and project managers hold licenses as individuals, and both owners are NASCLA accredited.
Have a question or want to schedule a free in-home consultation?
Fill out the quick contact form on the left and a greyHouse expert will contact you as soon as possible.