Ultimate Guide To Hiring A General Contractor In Los Angeles

What is a general contractor? 

General contractors, also known as builders, contractors or “GCs”, are the lead professionals on major construction and remodeling projects. They oversee teams of subcontractors who carry out the various specialized aspects of each construction job. Contractors are responsible for obtaining materials and permits, and ensuring that a project is completed according to plan. If your project requires, they may also coordinate with additional parties such as your architect or designer, or your coop or condo board. 

The term “general contractor” can be used interchangeably to refer to an individual person or a general contracting company. These companies come in all shapes and sizes, from one- and two-person operations, to mid-sized companies of 10-20 employees, and even large firms of 50 employees or more. 

What makes a great general contractor? 

At Sweeten, we’ve been vetting and working closely with general contractors for over a decade. In addition to our 7-step contractor vetting process, here’s what we think gives some contractors that extra edge and a reputation of satisfied clients:

  • Communication: There are a lot of variables in the construction process. A great general contractor understands the dynamic environment in which they work, anticipates potential issues, and is proactive in communicating all of this with their clients. They can provide clear instructions to subcontractors and are open to feedback. 
  • Realism: The best general contractors are honest with clients about what their budget can realistically achieve, and will work with them to create a feasible scope of work, so that they can adhere to budgets and timelines. 
  • Agility: When the unforeseen inevitably happens on a major project, great contractors can think critically on their feet and approach their clients with proposed solutions. They can handle a variety of tasks and adapt to changes.
  • Eye for detail: A great contractor does not make excuses for shoddy work. They scan their jobs with a fine tooth comb, regularly looking for imperfections in craftsmanship and addressing them head on —  not avoiding them and hoping their client doesn’t notice!
  • Tidiness: A great GC will clearly spell out the ways in which they intend to protect your home and personal belongings in their estimates & contracts. If your GC doesn’t have a game plan for protecting your beloved possessions, look the other way!

Traditional builders and general contractors vs design-build contractors

A traditional general contractor manages the construction process, including procuring materials and hiring subcontractors. Some traditional contractors may also offer creative solutions or very basic design services, but the level of input varies from firm to firm. You may refer to a general contractor as a “builder” if they also oversee ground-up construction, not just remodeling.  

design-build company, on the other hand, is a company that takes responsibility for both the design and construction of a project. They typically have in-house architects, designers, and construction experts that work together to create the plans and then carry out the construction. This is often the most efficient option when architectural design services are required.

The firms we work with at Sweeten cover the full spectrum from build-only traditional contractors to full-service, design-build contractors in Los Angeles. So, whatever your needs are, we’ve got you covered! Post your project to start connecting with a selection of our trusted contractors today.  

Typical remodeling projects

In Los Angeles, you’ll probably need to hire a general contractor if you’re planning a project like renovating a kitchen, remodeling a bathroom, adding a deck or patio, remodeling an entire home, or converting a garage into an accessory dwelling unit. They focus on transformative projects that involve multiple trades, which is why you’ll typically only hire a general contractor for projects that cost $15,000 and up. 

Browse Sweeten projects in Los Angeles on our blog to see some of the amazing homes Angelenos have created with Sweeten and our trusted contractors. 

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