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Why Hire A General Contractor?
By Mike Holmes
Friday, July 30th, 2021 @ 4:28pm
Next to you, the most important person in your renovation is the general contractor. A contractor’s willingness to take the time to listen and explain things to you will be a sign of their personal integrity and professionalism. A good contractor will show an interest in talking to you about what you really want out of your construction project.
What Does a General Contractor Do?
Your GC is responsible for HOW the home renovation work is done, and when. They may bring in an architect or engineer if needed. Choose the right GC and everything else should go fine. That is an obvious statement, but it is frightening how little thought people put into finding the right contractor.
Don’t hire the first contractor you find. Get multiple quotes for your home improvement projects.
Do You Really Need a General Contractor?
Do you really need a GC? Why not DIY? After all, by some estimates, it can save you money (you can save as much as 30% on the overall cost of the job) if you don’t hire a GC. In my opinion, unless you have unlimited time and a LOT of knowledge, acting as your own general contractor is a mistake.
I’ve said before that I am not a DIY guy, and general contracting is not the place to make an exception.
What Makes A Good General Contractor?
A good general contractor is a manager and an overseer, as well as (almost always) an experienced tradesperson in their own right. They know the building code, and they know that permits are necessary. The best GCs are adept at scheduling, problem solving, and dealing with the unexpected.
Managing large-scale renovations is a skill and an art, not to mention a full-time job. Your job is to find the right contractor, and their job is to make sure you get what you want from your renovation project.
Do You Need An Architect or an Engineer?
Make no mistake, you need a GC first and foremost. I believe that a general contractor should be hired before you think about hiring your architect, your engineer of any other design professional.
It’s true that some people go in the other direction—most often if they’ve discovered an architect whose work they admire and they really want to work with that person-but I recommend finding the best general contractor you can and then, if and when it’s necessary, your GC can bring an engineer or architect onto the job. This usually eliminates unnecessary planning costs.
Renovating isn’t like building brand new. A renovation contractor has to be skilled at tying in the old with the new.
Should I Hire An Interior Designer?
I never used to hire interior designers for my projects, but I have changed my mind on this recently. There is a lot of value in hiring an interior designer. Although a good general contractor will have picked up a lot about good design over the years, they aren’t designers and may not have the specific expertise to help you work within a specific period style.
They often pick up where architects leave off, helping you with room layouts (especially kitchens and bathrooms), space planning, and storage planning.
They also help with the cosmetic choices. What style of crown moulding will best suit your house? What kind of cabinetry will look good in your kitchen? You’ll be spending a lot of money on these items, and an interior designer will spend time with you finding out what you like, what your lifestyle demands, and what will best suit your needs and tastes.