Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homeowner 101: Reasons for hiring a general contractor

There are many positive rewards for remodeling your home: increasing comfort, convenience, adding space or repairing problems.

It is important to realize from the beginning that a remodel can be disruptive and stressful. Some homeowners try to cut costs by doing a remodel themselves; they may have seen a few episodes on a favorite television show that makes it look easy. Not the case. Some get in over their heads, either because they don’t realize the steps it takes, or maybe they get really busy at work and can’t find the time to finish. So a contractor needs to step in.

This is hard for the licensed contractor. He has to come into the picture where a homeowner left off. The homeowner might not have known the correct steps, the codes, the requirements of the job at hand, and may have made a mess underneath it all. The cost of the job is now more than if they just hired a contractor in the first place. Now everything will most likely need to be torn down. A licensed contractor probably will not take on a job that someone else has started and couldn’t finish; they do not know what was done and whether the person(s) doing the work was qualified to do the work correctly. If a contractor does come into the picture and covers up what work was just done by a homeowner, question them. Will they still warranty? If  yes, how?

Here are the important factors for hiring a licensed contractor:

Knowledge — The contractor is knowledgeable on what work needs to be done and in what sequence, reducing the need for call backs and delays in the progress of your remodel. Delays can add to your frustration and call backs can quickly increase the costs.

Cost estimates — A contractor can give you an estimate so you know how much of an investment you are committing to. Also, if changes arise, a contractor can make change orders so you can make an informed decision on additional work to be done.

A plan — Whatever your objective is for doing a remodel, a contractor can give you options, help you understand limitations and estimate costs and time requirements. This will give you a clearer idea and some predictability of what is involved in your remodeling project.

The unexpected — Remodels can be unpredictable; sometimes there are unforeseen obstacles once a wall, ceiling, etc. is opened up. An experienced contractor can save you time and money correcting these problems.

Subcontractors — A contractor has established working relationships with reputable subcontractors. They know the quality of the job they do and which companies warranty their work. A contractor also coordinates the project, which can involve several different trades: plumbing, electrical, cabinets etc.

Coordinating & scheduling — One of the most time-consuming parts of construction is the scheduling. The project must be done in a certain sequence. A contractor keeps the job running smoothly by making sure each step is complete and ready for the next subcontractor.

Code requirements — A contractor is aware of building codes and requirements for permits and inspections.

With all these in place and understood by a homeowner, it can save money in the long run by just hiring a licensed contractor. So many times I have gone to a friend’s house or a new customer’s home and have seen little mistakes — baseboard on completely upside down or used for crown moulding. These are easy mistakes to make and fix if it ever bothers them, but when dealing with whole home remodels — electrical, plumbing, or even tile — there are certain steps to keep a home safe and your remodel long lasting. You don’t want to have to find a tile installer, a granite company, an electrician and a plumber in the middle of it all. Your licensed contractor has all his subcontractors in place and knows their abilities, their warranties, their work and knows how to schedule them. Let them work for you!

Special to the Democrat


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