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Should I hire a general contractor?


Should I hire a general contractor for my renovation? That’s an important question, so let’s start with defining what a general contractor does. A general contractor is someone who arranges and manages medium to large renovation projects or new builds. They are responsible for sourcing out the appropriate trades people and making sure they are qualified for your specific project and available when you need them. When you are doing a kitchen renovation, for example, you may need an electrician, a plumber, a countertop manufacturer, a cabinet builder, a flooring specialist, painter and someone to install your new appliances. These tradespeople are referred to subcontractors.


A general contractor will know which of these tradespeople are required for your project, what, if any, special skills they require and when each subcontractor should be on the job so that they aren’t getting in each other’s way. They also know what prices to expect from subcontractors (and they should be adept at getting the best price) as well as which permits are required and the process to get them as quickly as possible.


If these are concepts that you have well at hand you might want act as your own general contractor and reduce your upfront costs. The greatest risk of not using a general contractor though, is in the mistakes. If something goes wrong, and you have to backpedal, calling back subcontractors to undo work that they have done because a step was skipped, or choosing the wrong tradesperson for a particle aspect of your renovation, the mistake can cost you a great deal more than a general contractor would have. A good general contractor can also potentially save you time, as he or she likely has many contacts within the trades and can usually arrange to get a qualified subcontractor on the job faster. A worthy general contractor will also be insured for any injuries or damage to your property resulting from your renovation and will warrantee their work.


An advantage to acting as your own general contractor is, if everything goes smoothly you could save money. The other advantage would be in the learning. If renovations are something that you are likely to do or oversee often, then it might be a good idea to get in there, get your hands a little dirty and learn the ropes for your future projects.

If you still aren’t sure whether or not to use a general contractor, ask around. Call any friends you know that have recently completed a renovation or if you know a good tradesman, ask for some advice. Good advice and planning are what will really save you money in the long run and ensure that your renovation turns out beautifully.

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