How to Choose the Right Contractor Every Time

There are a lot of contractors in the Chicago area. How do you choose the right one? How do you deal with contractors? Property management companies looking for contractors need to understand the scope and scale of their projects, what type(s) of contractors they need, and what questions they need to ask. Every contractor company is different – with different types of expertise, experiences, clients, and processes. ETI Construction may be the right contractor for you – if you’re looking for commercial construction or multi-family renovations.  

how to choose the right contractor

Types of Contractors 

The first step in choosing the right contractor is determining the type of contractor you actually need. Individual contractors and contractor companies vary in expertise, project scale, and experience. 

General Contractor 

A general contractor can manage the overall construction project, coordinate and supervise subcontractors, and oversee the project timeline and budget. A general contractor serves as a liaison between the property manager and the entire construction team. While the general contractor might not be the one actually doing the electrical work or installing plumbing, they should have experience and knowledge in all aspects of a construction project. 

Specialized Subcontractors

On larger scale builds and renovations, a general contractor will coordinate with subcontractors for specialized areas of the project. For smaller projects, you may only need one subcontractor. Subcontractors can specialize in electrical work, plumbing, roofing, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), landscaping, painting, or other areas of construction. These specialized roles work together, under the supervision and leadership of a general contractor, to bring renovation and new build projects to life. 

Ask the Right Questions 

Property management companies looking for contractors need to ask the right questions. Dealing with contractors is basically a job interview. Knowing how to choose the right contractor means knowing how to ask the right questions. 

Credentials, Licensing, Liability 

Depending on the location, type of project, and scale of the project, different credentials, licenses, and liability measures may be required from a contractor. Prior to hiring a contractor, ensure the contractor company and any subcontractors have the proper credentials and requirements for your project. Asking about credentials is also a good time to ask about building permits and requirements with local authorities. 


Ensuring subcontractors are properly licensed is important, and so is asking about the relationship between the general contractor and the subcontractors. Do they have a list of subcontractors they contact based on the project needs? Are there specialized contractors on the company’s full-time payroll? How long have they worked with their subcontractors? 

looking for contractors

References and List of Previous Clients 

Just as with a job interview, asking for references is key. Ask a potential contractor for a list of references and previous clients with contact information. Ask if you can visit a completed project and view their work portfolio. 


Every construction and renovation project is different, but it makes sense to look for contractors with similar experience to your project. Look at their previous clients and projects for any similarities to your project. Contractors like ETI specialize in multi-family construction and restoration, and commercial construction. 

Process and Communication 

Renovation, restoration, and construction can take time and require lots of communication between the contractor and property managers. Ask any potential contractors what their general process is for projects and what their expectations are for communication with the client. How often can you expect regular project updates? What’s the best method of communication? What is their process from initial conversation to project completion? 

ETI Construction understands that while the actual work is important, transparency and communication between the contractors and the clients are vital. ETI stands apart from other firms with our 12-step construction process, starting with a primary phone call and ending with a post-completion follow-up. Our process ensures we’re all on the same page throughout the project. The ETI client portal provides 24/7 access to communication, documents, updates, and approvals. 

Budgeting and Bids

Word of mouth and Google searching are common ways property management companies look for contractors, but sometimes property managers and business owners let the contractors come to them with competitive bidding. Competitive bidding is common in the construction industry. Commercial businesses, homeowners’ associations, and other groups may require competitive bidding before hiring a contractor or other service provider. 

Requesting bids from potential contractors gives property managers a chance to compare expected labor and material costs, timelines, and the overall project. Significantly lower bids that may seem too good to be true should raise a red flag and might indicate a contractor is cutting corners, using low-quality materials, or skirting around regulations and red tape. 

How to Deal with a Bad Contractor 

Sometimes, despite the best efforts to choose the right contractor, the project doesn’t go as planned. How do you deal with bad contractors? Maintain a paper trail of communication – every email and document. Any items discussed over the phone or in person should be reiterated in an email. Communicate concerns and issues as they arise or when you first notice them.

The best way to deal with a bad contractor is to avoid one altogether. Confirming credentials and licensing, reviewing work permits, carefully reading contracts before signing, and not immediately putting money down on a project can mean avoiding a bad situation. Obtaining a second opinion, and even a third-party inspection, can help limit an issue from becoming a bigger problem. 

Depending on the extent of the issue, dealing with a bad contractor may mean taking legal action or contacting the local contractor licensing body. In both cases, having all paperwork, communication, photographs, and anything else easily accessible is key. 

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Why ETI Construction Might Be the Right Contractor For You

If you are a property manager or owner looking into a new commercial or multi-family build, renovation, or restoration, ETI Construction may be the best contractor for you and your business. ETI’s team is experienced in a variety of construction specialties, and we understand all the moving parts required to complete a large-scale project. We believe in transparency and communication with our clients. The ETI process lays out precisely what to expect when you work with us. If you’re ready to choose the right contractor, contact us for an initial phone call and quote.