So, You Need a General Contractor?


So, You Need a General Contractor?

Home construction renovations can be stressful from the start when you don’t know who to contact for the work.
Home construction renovations can be stressful from the start when you don’t know who to contact for the work. (photo Eric Villarreal)

When it’s time for a renovation, some paint freshening or your house has suffered damage due to a storm or hurricane, most people feel an uneasiness about what to do next.  

Who do you choose to do the work on the largest, most valuable possession you own? Can you trust them? Will they do good work and complete the project on time and within budget?

These are all valid questions that come to mind as a homeowner. But, if you follow some simple suggestions, including those from Eric Villarreal, owner of A Double K Paint and Construction, you should be able to find just the right contractor to finish the work just as you want it and within your budgetary constraints. 

Eric Villarreal, owner of A Double K Paint and Construction in Harlingen offers contractor advice.
Eric Villarreal, owner of A Double K Paint and Construction in Harlingen. (photo Eric Villarreal)

Villarreal has been in business in the Harlingen area for about 12 years. He has spent a lifetime in the paint industry. He was “born and raised in a paint store,” learning as a child when his father owned a paint company. For years, he was a paint sales representative in San Antonio before moving back to the Rio Grande Valley after his father died. That’s when he started his own small business. Now, he has as many as six employees and is quite busy. His company focuses mostly on homes, but A Double K also has renovated and worked on significant commercial buildings, including the Harbor Freight facility on Ed Carey. 

So, he knows how the process works and also understands the concerns homeowners have when hiring a contractor. 

His suggestions are simple and important. Check out the credentials of the businesses you are choosing between. A homeowner can use Google searches, the Better Business Bureau and look for licensing and insurance from the state or local municipality to make sure the company is official and legitimate.

Step two would be to follow up and seek out people who have used the company before for work similar to yours. He said the best way to find out about the work a company does is through word of mouth. That and online searches are the top ways Villarreal says his company receives contact to perform work. 

“Quality work are the key words and that it is finished,” Villarreal says.   

Villarreal admits he has seen and heard his share of stories from homeowners who paid money to a contractor up front and they never performed the work or didn’t complete it. That often occurs because “the contractor lowballs the bid and then can’t pay for the work” or sometimes the contractor gets through a portion of it and realizes they don’t have enough money, so they don’t finish and move on to the next job, he said. 

Typically, here in the Valley, Villarreal says, once the contract is signed, a contractor will request half the money down. However, some information online and in other sources suggest not paying any more than 10 percent down. In any situation, make sure as a homeowner, you have an official contract with signatures from both parties. 

For larger projects, those that exceed $100,000, Villarreal suggests involving lawyers in the contract discussions. It is a way to protect both parties. 

But not all the risk is on the homeowner’s part. Villarreal admits he doesn’t always receive payment for work his company performs. He says he takes some risk as well when agreeing to do the work. 

“It happens all the time,” he said. “Why, I don’t know. But for us small general contractors, we are just trying to get the work to help the community and live.” 

Inform. Educate. Entertain. Inspire. Those are the four key components Lisa believes must be present in “the perfect story” and accomplishing that is her goal every time she sits down to write. Lisa is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years in the industry as a newspaper reporter, editor, photographer and page designer. In June of 2019, she left the Valley Morning Star after four years as its editor. During her stint at the VMS, she also created and was the editor of Valley Women Inspire, a magazine published by AIM Media Texas, owners of the Valley Morning Star, McAllen Monitor and Brownsville Herald. Originally from Southeastern Wisconsin, Seiser was the editor of a weekly newspaper, the Lake Geneva Regional News. She then moved to Junction City, Kansas, to be the editor of the Daily Union in that city before relocating to the RGV to work at the Valley Morning Star. Seiser has lived in Harlingen since June of 2015 and loves palm trees, the beach, traveling, golfing and her three rescue dogs.