How to Choose the Right Contractor in the Western Suburbs

For many people, owning a home is one of the biggest investments of their life. Whether you’re building a new custom home, renovating a historic house, or remodeling your current home for the next stage of your life, you are making a substantial commitment in terms of both time and finances.

That’s why it is essential to find the right Twin Cities building contractor to help you with your basement or other remodeling project. They set the tone for both design and construction and ensure the home build or remodel is executed smoothly and efficiently.

The problem is that hiring a professional for any sort of job always feels like you’re taking a bit of a risk. However, while you’ll never have 100% certainty that you’ve made the right choice until after your project is completed, there are several steps you can take to increase your odds.

Close up of woman mechanic with yellow helmet in hand against city background

Finding Contractors in Your Area

When you’re starting your search, you have dozens of Minneapolis contractors to sift through. The question is, how do you narrow it down?

While you can always begin your search for construction contractors via the Internet, it’s even better to consult friends, family, and real estate agents who can give your personal recommendations for qualified contractors. You can also use online networks such as Hire it Done to find reputable contractors in the Twin Cities area.

Make sure you’re clear about what sort of project you have in mind so you’re searching for the right company. For example, some contractors may have an exemplary and well-deserved reputation crafting luxurious modern homes but that doesn’t mean they are the best fit for renovating a historic house. Different professional builders have different areas of expertise and specialties, which can help you in the selection process.

Your search for general contractors in Minneapolis should also include doing some simple investigation into their professional reputation and prior experience. Check for the proper licenses and insurance coverage, as well as whether there are past complaints or even litigation against the general contractor. This includes researching the company’s current name, in addition to any other name the contractor has worked under. While it’s not a necessity, being part of various trade organizations is a good sign that a company adheres to certain standards of practice and professionalism.

The next step is reading online reviews posted on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, or other credible sites. Many companies also include testimonials on their personal websites. They also should be willing to provide you with a portfolio of their past projects and the names of former clients who can serve as references.

Qualities of a Good Contractor

There are several characteristics to look for when comprising your “good contractors” list. Some are universal, such as reliability, professionalism, and competency. You want to find a general contractor who has previous experience doing projects similar to yours. Most importantly, you need to partner with a firm that is trustworthy and transparent.

Other desirable qualities are a bit subjective depending on what you prioritize. For example, fluid communication before and during the project may be extremely important to you, which means you should find a general contractor that willingly answers your questions, provides you updates, and can consistently use your preferred modes of communication.

Other people may not have the time or desire to check in as often, but you still need to feel confident your contractor is performing at a high level and managing the project efficiently from start to finish.

Asking the Right Questions

Even once you’ve done your research, the best way to vet potential construction contractors is by interviewing them. Depending on how much time and availability you have, narrow down your list to the top three to five contenders and set up a meeting with someone from the firm. During this interview, don’t be hesitant to ask straightforward questions about the general contractor’s process, past experience, and current availability. Here are some sample questions to ask construction contractors in Minneapolis:

  • How long have you been in business and how did you get your start in the industry?
  • Have you ever operated under a different name, been sued (or sued anyone), or declared bankruptcy?
  • Who will be my main source of contact and how can I communicate with them?
  • What issues or changes could affect the timeline or cost of my project, and how will those be dealt with?
  • How will I be alerted if problems arise?
  • What sets your company apart from other general contracting firms in the Minneapolis area?
  • Will you take care of pulling the proper permits for my project and dealing with local government agencies?
  • What work will be done by subcontractors and how are they vetted?
  • Do you offer a home warranty to guarantee your work and when would it expire?
  • What practices do you employ to ensure a safe and healthy work site?
  • How are payments for the project handled, how is your billing system set up, and how frequently would I receive an invoice?
  • While you’re conducting this interview, make a record of the contractor’s answers—including any guarantees they make you—or ask to get it in writing.


contractor agreement

Signing a Contract to Hire

Once you’ve finished your research, conducted your interviews, and made your selection, the next step is developing a general contractor agreement or contract to hire. It is likely the company will have a standard format they use for contracts, but you should also feel free to look it over, ask questions, and bring up any issues you have with the terms and conditions outlined in the document. The contract should include who is responsible for what work, details about costs for labor and materials, and deadlines for certain aspects of the job.

You typically should not be asked to pay more than 10% of the project cost upfront. You also should not agree to making the final payment until the new home build or renovation job is complete and you’re satisfied with the work.

As the project progresses, any changes to the contract as agreed upon should be put in writing as official change orders that include details about the new work, materials, and costs.

Selecting a General Contractor in Minneapolis

No matter how eager you are to start work on your new custom home or remodeling project in the West Suburbs of Minneapolis, it’s better to take your time when selecting a general contractor for the job. Picking a reputable design-build firm that prioritizes your satisfaction as the homeowner is critical to getting the project done right without wasting time and money. With our professional team of architects, designers, engineers, and contractors, Black Dog Homes can provide you with a smooth and rewarding experience whether you’re remodeling or building new in the Twin Cities area.