Should I Hire a General Contractor?

19 July 2016

There are times, in the life of home ownership, that we must consider home repairs.  The purpose of these repairs can range from basic home maintenance to updates from builder-grade products, to a full- fledged remodeling project.  When times like this occur, we need to ask ourselves some basic questions and determine if we need a general contractor or a handyman for our project. before we move forward with these repairs.  For purposes of this article, let us assume that either we cannot make these repairs ourselves or we are not interested in doing the physical labor ourselves.

  1. Am I repairing, replacing or completely redesigning?
  2. Am I keeping the same floorplan?
  3. What is my realistic budget?
  4. ROI (Return on Investment)- how quickly do you expect to recover your costs?
  5. Are there structure changes involved?
  6. Am I adding on new space or am I working with space that currently exists?
  7. What is my time worth?

By answering the questions above, you can get a pretty clear direction on which way you are heading.  For example, if you are “updating”, keeping the same floorplan and have a very modest budget, even though you would like to hire a general contractor, you may be forced to consider hiring each contractor for the project and scheduling the work yourself.  Depending on the exact nature of the work, hiring a handyman may be a better option for you.

Are there structure changes involved in the project? Removing walls can have an impact on 2nd floor space, roof structure and overall building integrity.  An experienced remodeling contractor, as opposed to a builder doing remodeling, understands what it takes to work with an already existing space.  Their sub-contractors are craftsman instead of new construction installers and the final product is beautiful space that blends with the rest of your home.  They are also accustomed to working in homes where families live, not vacant space.

City code compliance is also important.  While sometimes it seems like a hassle, code compliance is necessary for your family’s safety.  A general contractor should have an understanding of how your space change will be affected by code.  They would take this into consideration in the permitting process and in the instructions and direction given to the different sub- contractors on the project. Ultimately, permits and city inspections will help assure code compliance is met.

By definition, a General Contractor is an individual or firm that estimates a project, orders materials, schedules multiple crews (both employee and subcontractors) and supervises those crews until a project is completed.  When hiring a general contractor you get the benefit of their years of experience, the relationships they have forged with vendors, suppliers and city inspectors and their knowledge of running construction projects.  There is a financial value assigned to hiring a GC.  You have to believe your time and experience is worth hiring someone else to help you, or a general contractor is not a good fit for you.

Always remember, you get what you pay for and you only want to pay for a project once!