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Benefits of Hiring a General Contractor for a Renovation

A general contractor is someone who provides every service you need for completing your home renovation project. There are at least 10 reasons homeowners should trust their home renovation projects to general contractors rather than trying to do the projects themselves.

Your general contractor never works alone.

If you do your own renovation project, you will still wind up hiring a plumber, an electrician, painters, and other professionals to get the work done well enough to meet code requirements of your town or city. If you hire a general contractor, the general contractor takes care of all of these subcontractor relationships for you.

General contractors have a large network of subcontractors who work for them. They know how to manage subcontractors so your project is completed on budget and on time.

General contractors take care of construction hassles.

If you go it alone with your reno project, you will have to get your own permits from the city. You will have to purchase supplies. You will have to schedule inspections. You will have to purchase materials and supplies. It will be up to you to supervise carpenters, painters, glazers, floor installers, and electricians, and make sure they do their work on time and up to code.

Your general contractor can take care of all of these details for you. When you hire a general contractor, you won’t have to be bothered with the construction process.

General contractors lower the cost of renovation.

When you choose a general contractor, you will have substantial savings on big-ticket items. Any general contractor worthy of doing your reno will have a large network of suppliers who provide materials at discounted prices. General contractors become trusted sellers for building supply vendors, allowing them to provide you with the materials you need at a lower price.

General contractors usually can get materials faster than you can.

Preferred customer relationships put your general contractor at the head of the line to get scarce building materials.

General contractors carry liability insurance.

When you work with a general contractor, their insurance covers any accidents or injuries on the job during your reno. If you don’t use a general contractor, you will have to rely on your homeowner’s policy, which may have exclusions that leave you liable for damages in excess of the value of your home.

General contractors provide a single point of contact.

When you hire a general contractor to do your renovation, the only person you need to talk with is your general contractor. They will keep you informed throughout the process. When you have a question, you know who to call.

Your general contractor provides completely customized services.

It’s not unfair to say that your general contractor knows what you want, at least with regard to the renovation process, better than you do. General contractors can provide totally custom services to do your project the way you want it. All you need to do is to communicate your goals, needs, and desires clearly before you start the project and your general contractor will make sure the final result is something you’ll be proud to call your own.

Your general contractor promotes feedback from building professionals throughout the renovation process.

There are a lot of subcontractors and construction workers on most renovation jobs. Your general contractor will provide (or will be) the general foreperson who will receive building, material, and design inputs from other professionals while eliminating surprises and budget overruns. Your general contractor will work proactively to ensure that cost estimates are accurate.

General contractors provide you with benefits of their experience.

Nobody wants to be any general contractor’s first job. It’s essential that you hire an experienced general contractor. But through the course of your project you will be able to build a personal relationship with the person responsible for your project’s success. If you keep lines of communication open, your general contractor can use their experience to save costs and to deliver an even better result.

General contractors can finish the project with money left over.

Let’s face it. Do it yourselfers seldom have money left over after the end of a reno. But all of the cost savings that arise during bidding done by your general contractor and any funds held on contingency will be returned to you at the end of your project. A great general contractor will make sure to stay under budget so you have additional cash flow when you get a great addition to your home.

What questions should you ask your general contractor up front?

There is a plethora of parameters to consider before hiring a general contractor. But if you ask the right people the right questions, you can rest assured of the success of your project. Here are 10 questions every homeowner needs to ask before signing on the dotted line with their general contractor.

Do you have experience with this kind of project?

You don’t want to be your general contractor’s learning experience. You only want to hire general contractors who have years of experience doing the kind of renovation you need, and who can show you references and a portfolio.

What’s the structure of your company?

You need to know how far up the corporate ladder you will be going during your renovation project. You want to be sure you can always get a responsible party when you have questions and concerns.

How do you manage scheduling?

Every homeowner wants their project completed on time. Your general contractor should be able to tell you what you can expect about when the materials for your reno will be available and what bottlenecks could hold up your project, and how the general contractor will avoid them.

Can you give me a timeline?

Don’t just ask how long your reno will take. Ask what will get done when, and be sure that your general contractor can guarantee that subcontractors will do their part of the job on time.

Who will be my contact person during the project?

You want the name and contact points of the one person responsible for the timely and professional completion of your reno.

What about site supervision?

You need to know who will be onsite to ensure materials aren’t stolen and workers are kept safe, so you won’t experience unexpected losses.

How much should I put down?

You will want to know how much cash you need to put down to start the job and when additional payments are required.

How do we settle any disputes?

You and your general contractor need to agree on any dispute resolution process (arbitrator or court case, and which state’s laws govern your contract) before you pay any money to start the job,

Can we put it in writing?

The courts won’t enforce your rights on an oral contact. You need to have costs, quality, materials, delivery date, and payment dates in a written contract with your contractor.

What are the requirements for becoming a general contractor?

Working as a general contractor requires significant education and experience. You will occasionally meet excellent general contractors who did not go to college after they graduated from high school, but most general contractors will have a college degree in construction science. All general contractors should have had hands-on experience in one of the trades, for example, carpentry or electrician work, and most general contractors have to pass state licensing requirements. States check criminal and financial history before granting a general contractor’s license. You should, too.

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