Why should I hire a general contractor for my Home Renovation?

October 2, 2012
October 2, 2012
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Old tools on a wooden table

Congratulations. You’ve decided to go ahead with you home renovation project. With that big decision out of the way, you’re now faced with another one. Should I hire a general contractor to oversee it or should I try to manage the project on my own? Some people will argue that you’ll save some money if you decide to manage the project on your own; after all, general contractors cost money. However, I’m here to tell you that, without a doubt, that extra money spent on having someone else oversee your project is a wise decision. Here are some reasons why:

Managing your project can be a full time job

It can take a lot of time and effort to manage even a smaller home renovation. Finding the right subtrades, getting pricing, ordering product, and setting up installation dates can chew up hours upon hours of your time. If you already have a full-time job, this means managing your project on evenings and weekends. Of course, you’ll have to spend some time during the day to deal with your project; some suppliers and subtrades don’t pick up the phone on evenings and weekends. Hiring a general contractor will make sure that you’re not working 16 hour days, trying to juggle your life with your project.

Contractors are there to supervise

Getting your project to the starting line is what most people think of when hiring a general contractor, but another role that they fulfil is making sure that the work is done correctly. A general contractor is knowledgeable enough in each step of the project to recognize when the work is being done correctly or poorly, and can take action to address and problems before they can cause trouble.

As well, general contractors are there to make sure that you personal belongings aren’t damaged or stolen. I’m not only talking about theft or damage from people working on the job site, but also neighbours who want to take a look at what’s going on in your home. A good contractor will deny access to anyone who wants to take a peek, citing safety reasons and letting them know to ask you for permission to enter your home. If anything does happen to get damaged, a general contractor has liability insurance, something that wouldn’t be covered if you acted as your own general contractor. And in a worst case scenario, if anyone was ever hurt on the job site that you were managing, you could be held responsible.

Contractors speak the language of construction

Have you ever entered into a discussion with a physicist about the latest developments in string theory? I’m not saying that construction is anywhere near as complex as string theory, but I can tell you that construction comes with its own set of vocabulary and buzzwords. If you are unfamiliar with the language of construction, you might be signing up for something you don’t want. A contractor acts as a go-between with you and suppliers/subtrades and takes the information about your project and translates it into layman’s term so that it’s easy for you to understand. They can then help you to make decisions and offer advice so that you don’t end up with any unwanted surprises.

Contractors have relationships with suppliers and subtrades that you don’t

When you decide to manage a project on your own, you will probably do business with each supplier and subtrade only once. When it comes to discounts and special favours, you might be out of luck because you’re not bringing in repeat business. Because a contractor deals with suppliers and subtrades on a regular basis, they are more likely to get discounts on materials, and often subtrades are more willing to ‘squeeze your project into their schedule.’ So, perhaps the extra money you’d spend on a general contractor might be made up in time and material savings.

Contractors are problem solvers

Did your plumber call and tell you he’s on vacation and won’t be back for a week, thus delaying your project? Did you open up that wall only to discover that the framing is rotted right out? Or are you facing a tough decision about how your project should proceed? These are headaches that you shouldn’t have to deal with. Instead of developing a stomach ulcer, why not have a contractor help you solve these problems as they come up.

Contractors can save your marriage

Okay. I’m not suggesting that a contractor is a good substitute for a marriage councillor, but taking on a renovation project by yourself can put you and your family under a lot of pressure. I’ve seen a lot of couples get into arguments every time the topic of their renovation comes up, and that’s when we’re there to manage the project. I could only imagine what the situation would be like if I weren’t involved. So, let us smooth the tensions of your project so that you’ll look back fondly on your new kitchen or bathroom, rather than wincing every time you think about it.

So, when you’re thinking about renovating your home, whether it’s a small bathroom project or a complete kitchen overhaul, don’t overlook hiring a general contractor. Without a doubt, the peace of mind will definitely be worth the extra cost.

Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaConstruction, on twitter atwww.twitter.com/Nordalta, and on LinkedIn.