5 Top Tips for Choosing the Right Contractor

At Gibson Marine, completing every job on time and on budget is simply the protocol, but not all contractors are created equal. An unscrupulous contractor can wreak havoc on the lives of the homeowners, developers, or builders involved in a project. Over the last 30 years, we’ve rectified nightmare contractor situations for many clients. Most recently, we took over a project in Tierra Verde started by another contractor who did not fulfill their agreement. After a year of trying to coax the original contractor to return and finish the job, the client contacted Gibson Marine. We’re happy to report that once the contract was executed, we were able to complete the project for this client within just 10 days.

When it comes to hiring a contractor, knowledge is power. The more information you have, the better equipped you are to make an educated decision. We’ve compiled this list of “5 Top Tips for Contractor Bliss” to help get you started.


1. Do Your HW. Search the Web for information about local contractors and check reviews and ratings. Be sure to ask friends, coworkers, and other people in your community for referrals; when it comes to vetting capable contractors, word-of-mouth recommendations are often the most dependable sources. Make the most of the exchange by asking specific questions, such as:

· How would they describe the quality of the work?

· Were there disparities between the original and final construction budget?

· Was the project completed by the agreed upon deadline?

· Did the contractor maintain a clean and organized job site throughout the construction?

· Would you work with this contractor again? Why or why not?

2. The Proof is in the Paperwork. Make sure that the contractor is licensed and insured. A professional will most likely volunteer the documentation. For example, Gibson Marine’s Florida Certified General Contractor license number can be found right on our website: http://gibson-marine.com/about/. If any subcontractors will be assisting with the project, verify that they are also properly licensed and insured before moving forward with any work. Confirm that the company’s insurance covers workers’ comp, property damage, and personal liability.

3. Write it (All) Down. A thorough written contact is your best defense against future distress or dissatisfaction. Be as detailed as possible – outline the scope of work, specify what materials will be used, define the start of the project and the agreed upon deadline. Any verbal promises or agreements should be added to the written contract. Carefully read the entire contract and confirm that you understand everything outlined. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.

4. Compare Bids. Obtain a minimum of three to four bids for the project in question. These bids should all be put in writing so you can refer to them later. All bids should provide a comprehensive plan detailing every juncture of the project. Don’t make a decision solely based on price; in some cases, a low ball bid may be indicative of quality.

5. See Red. When you’re hiring a contractor, be on the lookout for anything that doesn’t add up or just doesn’t feel right. As with any business deal, the potential for scammers is always present. Be wary if a contractor exhibits any of the following red flags:

 · Provides references that can’t be verified.

· Wants all costs paid up front or accepts only cash.

· Avoids putting bid in writing or providing a written contract.

· Bid is exceptionally low – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

· Asks you to obtain building permits.

· Uses high pressure sales tactics, such as special pricing contingent upon signing a contract that day.


Gibson Marine Construction is a full-service professionally certified marine contractor with over 30 years of experience building seawalls, docks and installing boat lifts. For more information, visit www.gibson-marine.com or call (727) 942-3111.

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