Should I Hire a General Contractor?
Have you thought, should I be my own general contractor? You are not alone but in deciding to manage your remodeling project yourself and going it alone without hiring a qualified general contractor, it’s important that you know all of the required tasks.
An experienced general contractor oversees and manages the entire remodeling and renovation project ensuring the work is done to your satisfaction. While it’s not unreasonable to think that a homeowner could act as their own general contractor and save on some costs, it’s a difficult role that requires professional skills, years of knowledge and lots of time on the job.
The list provides an overview of the general contractor’s typical responsibilities;
If your remodeling project requires substantial framing and structural modifications and if asked by the city or architect, an engineer can design a structure to hold new roof loads and calculate needed stress loads for any structure you are working with. A good engineer will find solutions and back it up with his certification and stamp.
I have seen cases where the engineer over calculated and ordered a 2nd floor of a home to hold the weight of a semi truck which was not explained easily to the customer upon final inspection. But a good general contractor will have years of experience working with engineers and will know the engineer’s experience and only call them in if they are required or can save or add value to the remodeling or renovation project.
Architects and Designers
If there’s an architect or designer involved, the general contractor will work with that person(s) to guarantee the project is implemented as planned. The architect and the general contractor will review the plans together before any work begins. If problems do arise, the architect and designer look to the general contractor’s advice to solve workable solutions. It’s a receptacle relationship that all parties have been involved in for many years and that’s difficult for most homeowners to replicate.
Gather and Evaluate Bids
Every reputable general contractor has a network of trusted crews that allows the general contractor to gather accurate bids quickly. If you act as your own general contractor, accomplishing the same thing will require more time and effort. For every trade; framing, electrical, foundation, plumbing, etc you’ll need to get bids.
If one crew shows you a different way of doing something, you’ll need to communicate that to all the other crews and have them re bid the remodel so that all the estimates are the same and lastly you’ll need to know the products and techniques used by each crew to determine if all are of equal or greater quality and value.
Once you have all the trades lined up and ready to go ” get everything in writing” keep it in a binder with one per trade to easily refer to if times get tight. Having everything in writing holds the trades you hired to what they promised on quality of materials and labor.
Running the Crews
Coordinating a remodeling project with the busy schedules of multiple crews is a challenge to most homeowner’s. When a general contractor is on the job his crews are willing to commit to tight schedules. If an inexperienced homeowner is managing, however, those crews will often request more time, which can add weeks to the completion date of your project.
A well managed general contractor completes the needed tasks efficiently that’s why projects managed by a professional general contractor rarely run behind schedule. We answer questions and resolve any issues. The general contractor has to be on the job regularly, overseeing and inspecting the work as it’s completed.
Permits and the Associated Inspections
To ensure a safe working environment for the homeowner and community, city permits, when needed are required before demolishing, building or enlarging most remodeling construction projects.
Even if you do not think you need a permit for that very small room addition most cities will check with Google maps as they are updated to find new roof lines and improvements and check if that homeowner has pulled a permit, you do not want to get that knock on the door after the fact, the city has been known to have structures disassembled to the point that they can be inspected and in some cases with concrete slabs they require them to be removed.
A good general contractor will know which remodeling project will require permits and which don’t and have the knowledge to work with the city to get the right permits for the renovation. The general contractor meets with the city inspectors at the job site and works with any inspector and staff on any needed changes or new requirements should they arise.
The best intents do not add up if there is a default in either the manufacturers’ product or a trade’s wrongful installation. A good general contractor will know how to follow up on the manufacturer and the installation would not be a problem. Insurance protects your family and investments, not having insurance is something you can’t go back and fix. You have it or you don’t. Fortunately, you can ask for insurance coverage before you hire the trades, look for the actual certificate and check to see if it’s current and registered with the city you are in.
Most of the requirements are listed, but there is so much more to being a good remodeling general contractor. You have to be available at all times to quickly respond to the homeowner’s requests and concerns. It requires a lot of scheduling and communication to meet with the needed professionals on their schedules to truly implement a great customer experience and complete a new home remodeling or commercial remodeling project every time.
Do you have what it takes to be your own general contractor? Only you know for sure. Before going all in with your final decision you may want to interview a couple of construction companies to get their opinion of how easy or difficult your next remodeling or renovation project will be.