How To: Hire a General Contractor

Take the time to get estimates and check references before you hire.

You want to hire someone with proven skills, somebody you can work with, and someone with a sound business sense for schedules and managing personnel.

If you are on your own and you don’t know where to begin, ask for recommendations from friends or acquaintances who have had home construction done. Personal references are always best. Personal to you, that is, not to the contractor—sometimes people refer a favorite nephew or the son of a friend out of regard for their relationship rather than a knowledge of the person’s skills or qualifications. You will probably do best hiring a local contractor with an established business and reputation.

If the referrer has had work done by the contractor, ask for an assessment of the work. Did the contractor finish at or near the budgeted price? If not, were the change orders reasonable? Was the work completed on schedule? Did the contrac­tor willingly return to correct problems? Would they use him again? Are they happy with the finished product?

Once you’ve identified candidates, you will need to meet and talk with each of them. The contractor will need to see the plans and will want to examine the structure to be remodeled. Only after looking at the exist­ing home or apartment and reviewing the changes to be made can an estimate be prepared.

Checking References
When you meet them, ask each GC for three or four local references. That’s a perfectly reasonable request, and no reputable contractor should hesitate to provide them. Getting the names and numbers, however, is only the beginning, next, you need to make a few calls.

Telephone the previous clients, identify yourself as a homeowner in the market for building services, and ask the key questions: Did the GC in question finish the job on time? Is the completed job satisfactory? How much did the price change along the way? Were the workers neat or did they leave a hopeless mess behind? If possible, ask if you might be able to take a first-hand look at the work, too. Only by inspecting it yourself can you judge the caliber and acceptability of a contractor’s work. You may get additional insights into the contractor from talking with the clients in person, too. Lessons previous customers learned may be helpful to you.

Call the local Better Business Bureau and ask if there are any complaints on file against the contractor(s) you are thinking of hiring.

Types of Textures

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Texture groups

Drywall texture styles can be grouped into two categories based on their method of application. Some textures are applied manually with basic hand tools. These are referred to as hand applied drywall textures. Drywall textures that require a machine to spray texture material onto a prepared surface are referred to as sprayer applied drywall textures. Spray textures cannot be reproduced effectively without the use of a machine.

Hand Applied Drywall Textures

Hand drywall textures are limited only by the tradesman's imagination. Some textures are applied with a pan and knife or a hawk and trowel. Some drywall textures make use of special brushes to stomp or swirl patterns in the mud. At times drywall mud is applied to drywall surface using a paint roller or high powered paint sprayer. Brushes or knives or rollers are then used to create patterns in the mud. Hand drywall textures can vary greatly depending on the skill level or techniques used. Even when using similar techniques, two different tradesmen can produce very different drywall texture styles.

Check out the following links for more information on individual types of drywall texture as well as images of various drywall texture styles and tips on how to apply drywall texture.

Skip Trowel - Hawk & Trowel - Santa-Fe - Double Skip - Swirl - Crows-foot Stomp - Rosedbud stomp - Stomp Knockdown 

Sprayer Applied Drywall Textures

Check out the following links for more information on drywall textures that are applied with an electric or gas powered sprayer. Splatter -

Knockdown - Orange Peel - Popcorn

Drywall texture sprayers come in many different brands, shapes and sizes. They generally consist of a hopper for the texture material, which is pumped from the hopper through a long hose, and an air compressor. The texture pump on smaller machines may be a diaphragm pump driven by compressed air or another style pump driven by an electric motor. Larger spray rigs have gas or diesel powered motors that run both the texture material pump and the air compressor. Internal combustion engines that run the larger texture rigs are able to pump more material over greater distances which allows for higher quality drywall texture jobs.

Texture mud is pumped through a long hose to a gun operated by hand triggers. The texture gun causes drywall mud and compressed air to meet and spray onto the drywall surface to create a texture. The type of drywall texture is determined by the type of drywall texture material used, the size and type of nozzle on the texture gun and the amount of compressed air introduced into the mud.dd text, images, and other content