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Getting Started: Talk to General Contractors or Specific Trades?

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MattinCA

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We are contemplating a major remodel of our mostly original 1200-SF, mid-50s, So Cal tract house. I know this is a DIY forum, but I'm in my 60s with no DIY experience in some areas so some of the work will definitely be given over to professionals; "we" (my wife) are even open to the idea of just hiring a GC to do most or all of it if that makes the most sense.

To end up with a specific plan and budget, we have a lot of questions about specific parts of systems, even for stuff we might DIY (generally how much would the various options cost and what are the relative benefits) such as:

-FAU-CAC system or maybe multi-head mini-split type?

-Put in all-new grounded 200-amp electric system and add wall insulation with existing walls getting a new skimcoat at the end or gut the interior walls and put up new drywall after new electrical and insulation?

-Pop-in replacement windows vs full-frame windows?

-Refinish existing oak floors vs new wide-plank flooring throughout (leaning toward LVP)?

-What to do with crappy existing hardscape (areas where water pools, old ugly blockwall perimeter fence, old asphalt driveway, etc.)?

and so on.

My question is, to answer these questions, would it be better to talk with GC's and get specifics/quotes covering each option, or to talk to specific trades, like have an electrician answer questions and quote costs about the electric; have a flooring company answer questions and give quotes for flooring options?

Thanks.
 

Snoonyb

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From your description, you appear to be on the cusp, monetarily, of simply purchasing a more ideally conforming dwelling, and hold the existing as an income.

Do you have another place to live for 6mo while your renovations are progressing?
 

MattinCA

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Temporary lodging is one more piece of the puzzle we have to work out. I broached the idea of buying and moving into an already remodeled house, then remodeling and "flipping" or renting out this one, but with SoCal real estate prices, we could not afford to buy a replacement house without selling this one.
 

Snoonyb

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The Idea is to expand your options and to make you aware that your contemplated remodel is likely to be in the $200K range.

As the market, and it's expansion, roils through CA, generally speaking, your not on the downslope of realtors/contractor, machinations, yet

2 projects excluded from you list of contemplations, are the kitchen and bathroom.

With regards to the interior wall surfaces. Are they really in such poor repair that a properly appointed painting contractor, wouldn't be a better fit?

In regards to your landscaping and masonry: The prevalent home centers sell bags of soil, which when spread will fill in the low spots, without affecting the grass. Negotiations with the affected property owners, when replacing boundary fencing, is your responsibility, not the contractors, and in that light, when was the most recent land survey, should it come up?
 

MattinCA

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Thanks for the input; the list was just a few examples, not the scope of the project. Kitchen and bath remodels are in the mix, just not included in the shortened sample list.

Previous owners have done enough changing and patching of the interior walls that there are different surface textures and areas where patching is evident, but perhaps a skilled plasterer could even everything out. That's why I was wondering if it is better to discuss those options with a drywall guy or painter rather than including it in a list for a GC.

Low planted areas are not a problem, my concern is hardscaping and walks that channel water badly and create little dams and pools. So I wondered if I was better off discussing these issues and options for correcting them with a landscape person rather than including it in a list for a GC.

We've been here 26 years; we had a survey done about 15 years ago.

Your first sentence is exactly on point; we are trying to figure out the best people to talk with to expand our options (trade specialists or GCs). I'm not quite sure what the second sentence means.
 

Snoonyb

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#2 is the general response of realtors and less than scrupulous contractors of all illks in CA. Been there for 45yrs., beneath my dignity.
 

Snoonyb

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Were I you, I would contact a local draftsman and have a basic, yet comprehensive, set of plans prepared, which will afford you a shopping list to work from. You can also decide if your priorities are the general working of the dwelling, or the aesthetics, as well as how they will become interrelated, as the process unfolds.

Live in the space, what do you, what don't you like, before and after, in your minds eye.
 

68bucks

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As far as whether to use a GC or act as your own it sort of depends of you time-line a bit. A GC will cost more but would likely get it done faster since most have connections with subs. You will have to make all those connections with subs and a sub will respond to a GC that gives them steady work faster than to a one off job. That could stretch out your time line. With any project there are 3 options, good, fast, and cheap. You can only chose 2 of those options.
 

Graybeard

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As far as whether to use a GC or act as your own it sort of depends of you time-line a bit. A GC will cost more but would likely get it done faster since most have connections with subs. You will have to make all those connections with subs and a sub will respond to a GC that gives them steady work faster than to a one off job. That could stretch out your time line. With any project there are 3 options, good, fast, and cheap. You can only chose 2 of those options.
This is similar to what happened to me when remodeling the kitchen and building the addition to my house. The electrician who took the job became very arrogant, and would never listen, nor adhere to the days when he was to be at the house working. His come and go attitude interfered with the entire project. When I finally fired him, he gloated that he would call the electricians in town and nobody would finish the project. Interestingly, the electrician who took the job to finish, knew the other guy, but wouldn't comment; he finished the job very professionally.
 

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