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Old 06-26-2007, 07:56 AM  
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Default Being your own General Contractor

We are expecting a new baby and need to add on. We were planning on going above a garage and the family room that backs up to the garage. The total size is 24' W x 28' L. I've gathered some quotes and they have all been too high, and I think the work can be done cheaper if I did some of it myself and contracted it out myself. I have a framer coming over to give me a quote, instead of having someone take it for start to finish. My thought process is I have a few friends / family in the trades, an electrician, plumber, another does siding. I think if I pay them they will at least give a price I believe is honest.

More about the project. We currently have a 3 BR, 2 BA house. I would like to recreate the same existing floor plan, or use all of the space but have no bathrooms. Something with 2 BR and a large play room / sitting room. I know bathrooms add a lot to the budget, but they also add a lot to resale.

So my question is can the average Joe that has friends / family in the business capable of being a contractor? And what is the outline for something like this? Is what I have below close?

Roof Tear Off
Framing Exterior Walls / Interior Walls / Windows
Re Roof / Re Side
Hang Drywall / Finish Drywall
Paint Molding / Door Frames / Doors

Thanks guys, please ask questions as I'm sure I've left out some information.


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Old 06-27-2007, 04:28 PM  
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Roof Tear Off
Framing Exterior Walls / Interior Walls / Windows
Re Roof / Re Side
Rough-in plumbing
Rough-in Electric
Rough-in HVAC
Rough-in Inspections
Hang Drywall / Finish Drywall
Doors and mouldings
Mechanical finals and trimouts
Touch-ups and punch-list 1st
Touch-ups and punchlist final inspections

YOU will be responsible for making sure each contractor is insured, licensed and good for the work to be done. Each phase will have to be inspected by you to make sure things are really ready for the next phase or the next contractor. You will have the headaches when someone has to be called back and they want to argue that necessary items were not included because the items were never decided nor discussed before the job was bid.

In the long run, if you don't want to do the work, it's cheaper and far simpler to lay those burdens on a general contractor. They know what to ask for before the job starts from each contractor and will be responsible if something terrible happens.

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Old 07-03-2007, 01:09 PM  
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My husband and I are in the middle of an addition/remodel and are our own general contractor(s). And, depending on the cost of your project you may change your mind but a GC will take approx 25% of total construction costs. So, if you are willing to pay an additional 25% then do it. Our project is going to be about $125K so an additional $30K wasn't worth it for us. We could make so many upgrades with that $30K instead. So far it has been manageable for us - but we are both actively involved and have schedule flexibility with our jobs to allow us to be onsite during critical parts. I'll check back in after the shingles go on the roof - we're not too far along - but our only 'real' headache has been getting windows and dumpsters.

Make sure you check references for all subcontractors and get 3+ quotes for each part of the job!
If you can get personal referrals from people that have had work done - that seems to be working the best for us so far.
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Old 07-03-2007, 02:27 PM  
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Default Also...

Any time someone does the self contracting bit you need to remember to make sure ALL subcontractors carry liability and work mans compensation insurance.
Make sure it is up to date. If someone on the job gets hurt and there is no insurance.....guess who can be the new owner if your homeowners insurance does not cover you for being the contractor.

Always talk to a lawyer before you do a major job on your will be worth every penny to cover your assets accordingly.

I hate being the guy whom has to say it ....but better to know what you are doing and getting into, than to find out the hard way.

That is why folks hire "PROFESSIONAL" contractors...we have been through it already and know the risks. ( I hope)
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Old 07-05-2007, 02:50 PM  
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Welcome VitiminJ:
Yes, you can save money by being your own General Contractor IF:
1. you are willing to take two years to finish the work
2. keep some incentive for each contractor to come back when they have left something out (Their biggest incentive has $ in it)
3. you have the money in your own account when you need to pay someone
4. you are willing to arbitrate between the sub-contractors over who is responsible for each little detail of the work
5. you can put up with professional jelousy
6. you watch at least one episode of Holmes on Homes (he's on the HOM channel)
7. you have a perfect marriage at the begining, 1/3 of divorces are over a building or remodeling job
8. you are willing to jump in and complete something that is holding up the next contractor.

There are professional Managers who know all the subs, how to schedule them and inspect their work in progress and on completion of each. They charge a fee; sometimes a set fee and sometimes based on the cost of the job, some even work on a combination. You can contact your local Home Builders Association to locate one.

You have my blessings and sympathy on this job and you'll need them both.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:52 PM  
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Is not that the truth ---- "1/3 of divorces are over a building or remodeling job". That is funny but true -- well, I guess it is not funny if it is your marriage going down the tubes just because of some 2x4's!!
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Old 08-14-2007, 09:10 AM  
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Anyone who thinks hiring a contractor will make life easy is crazy. I've worked with too many that took a huge down payment then never showed up. Lets not forget that they hired the cheapest subs they can find, that's how they make their margins as well. So you just need a check list of what to do and in what order and make sure you leave money out of each contractor until it's finished. BTW, and this is the REAL importiant part! Make DAMN sure that you get a release of lein waiver form signed, hopefully before work is started. Because if you don't they can screw with you bigtime!!
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Old 08-15-2007, 07:20 PM  
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Default Yikes

I hate to get beat up like that....

Yup there are some good points there but...
Making life easy was never said....if it was easy anyone could do it...and they do.

Hiring a Professional contractor, is different.

One with a professional organization like NARI or NHAB helps. These folks have standards to follow to join.

Great references...see the work and talk to past customers...face to face. More than one.

Check better business bureau or department of consumer protection in your state for any problems.

Have your Attorney read the contract....always.

Most of all ...check 3 or 4 contractors out if you do not trust one. Most know who has the reputations in town. Talk to the building inspector also to see if there are any issues around.

The problem with the lien waver is if you have a reputable contractor...if they are a good business they won't sign a waiver, they will have no way to collect if YOU are the bad customer. Don't forget there are shady customers , any good contractor will have a screening process to see if you are legitimate and they will ask money questions. Better to have it in the open.

Always keep a great line of communication open...if you call and don't get a response that day....forget em.

Let's not forget that the good contractors are doing this as a way to make a living...just like you going to work, you want to be paid at the end of the week. If they don't pay you, you want a way to get their attention.
Imagine going to work and they tell you to sign a piece of paper so if they don't pay you this have no chance of seeing that paycheck without a lawyer getting half. No way.

Yes there are good contractors out there.
Yes you have to do your homework...its a large chunk of your life being invested.
Yes they "will" cost more than the others. You get what you pay for.(if you did your homework)Plus it is cheaper to have a great job done the first time, in piece of mind and money.

Last...a great job has plenty of resale value. I know ..I'm a home inspector.

Kgdonna is correct in holding your money until something is finished according to contracts. The most important thing is to always have a good relationship with your contractor by, keepin it real and good solid communication. There will always be something that happens but a good guy will be on top of questions asked.

Keepin the job clean.
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Old 09-14-2007, 10:28 AM  
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Default Be sure to weigh the pros and cons

The replies so far have all been valid. The question of whether to use a general contractor or not is always a concern when it comes to a remodel project. The natural instinct is to look at it initially from a cost perspective. Hiring a contractor to run your project will increase the cost, no doubt, but probably not as much as you think. The fact is, most contractors don't make 25% per job, as posted above. Also, even if the contractor does, the price he or she can get the work done for is generally cheaper than the what you can pay to have it done. For instance, my pricing on materials from start to finish, is probably 10 to 12% less than what you pay. Also, I have used the same group of subcontractors for years, and they give me a better price for the work based on my volume than you could get by getting a quote from them directly. Add this cost perspective to the fact that by using the same group of subs for so long, they all know each other, and can seamlessly work together on a project without a bunch of infighting about who is responsible for what. Working with a general contractor takes many headaches away from you.

If you are going without a general, just follow some of the advice the others have given you. Get references, check insurance and licenses, and make sure your schedule allows you to be on the job during regular work hours to keep things in motion, and answer questions. Also, when you get your estimates, make sure they are as detailed as possible. One of the biggest problems that arise on the job have to do with "I thought you wanted it done this way" scenarios. These issues lead to some of the other problems, such as workers refusing to finish unless you pay them more, or you as the homeowner refusing to pay them because they didn't do it the way you thought they should.

Hope this helps.

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