How to Choose a General Contractor (Part 1)


Harry Burns, President and Founder of Home Evolutions, recently gave a presentation about how to choose a general contractor for general design and construction work. For the next two weeks, we would like to summarize this important and timely information here in our blog.

According to Burns, since July 1st 2009, all contractors in the state of Pennsylvania must be registered through the Pennsylvania Attorney General. The first important question one should ask before choosing a general contractor is “Who can you trust?” The Attorney General’s website and its list of registered contractors is a good place to start.

Burns reminded attendees that your home is your biggest investment, so improvements should be considered an extension and continuation of this investment. “Home improvement and consistent maintenance protect and enhance your investment and ultimately reduce expenses.” He added, “Home improvements are a long-term investment in the value, convenience, and the marketability of your home.”

If there is any doubt that home improvements and maintenance are worth it, Burns answers with a resounding yes and lists the following benefits:

  • Increase in your home’s value;
  • Greater return on your investment;
  • Staying in your home longer improves your quality of life;
  • Gives your family a more valuable asset.

Another important question homeowners eventually ask themselves is “Should I move or remodel?” According to Burns, the cost of selling your home is 8 to 10 percent of your home’s value! “Chances are that the home you move to will need the same modifications as your current home,” he added.

In fact, the American Homeowners Foundation states that the cost for selling your home and moving is at least 10 percent of your current home’s value—which only covers such costs as real estate commissions and the termite inspection.

But Burns notes that this amount does not include the following extraneous costs:

  • The actual moving and storage costs—which could be an additional several thousand dollars—depending on the distance of the move and the weight of your household belongings.
  • The cost of any cosmetic work that needs to be done to put the house on the market.
  • Any housekeeping services to maintain the house while it is on the market.
  • Any discrepancies between the listing price and the sale price.
  • And of course, the risk of not selling the home.

So for the first part of his presentation, Burns closes with the suggestion and reminder to keep the actual cost of selling in perspective. “On a $150,000 home, this cost is $15,000—but this is simply the cost of the sale.” In actuality, the total costs of moving can be much greater.