Should I hire a contractor

If you are debating on whether or not to hire a contractor, it is safe to assume you have found a project around the house that you want to update.  Some projects may be a great fit for you if you are handy but maybe you don’t have the time.  Or perhaps you have the time but your spouse doesn’t feel like you are handy.

From a remodeling contractor’s perspective – this is when you should definitely hire a contractor:

When your project requires multiple trades

You might be handy, but would you feel comfortable remodeling your kitchen which includes setting tile, installing cabinets and baseboards, drywalling, texturing, painting, installing plumbing fixtures, adding electrical fixtures and running gas lines?    This is what we mean by multiple trades…..if you are not comfortable performing each of the trades required for your project, or you are not sure what the sequence order is for performing the remodel – you should hire a contractor.  The other part of the equation is understanding what materials to purchase and correct tools and applications to build.  Alongside is – do you really have the time for a project of that magnitude?

When you do not understand the remodeling process

If you have to go online to research how to install a faucet, that is not a big deal and probably something you can handle on your own.  When you have to research online how to obtain permits, you should hire a contractor.  The remodeling process is similar to the process of surgery.  Everything has to be completed in a specific sequence so as not to affect surrounding areas otherwise you may end up with an infection.  Contractors get phone calls constantly from homeowners who have attempted a project on their own only to realize it was outside of their comfort zone.  Turns out when that happens – the project usually costs more because now the contractor has to fix what you have begun.

When you have a hard deadline

If you need to have your bathroom remodeled in time for the big holiday party you have planned or before the baby comes home from the hospital then you may want to hire a contractor.  If you have never remodeled a bathroom then you will not have a good grasp on how long the process will take.  Working efficiently is key to getting a remodeling project completed in a timely manner.

When you do not have time

Acting as your own general contractor and hiring trades to come in and complete the remodel for you may sound like an easy task and a way to save money.  Possibly – but do you have time to interview 3 or more specialty trades as well as verify their license,insurance, and reputation?  Additionally you will want to review the scope of work and payment schedules carefully to be sure everyone is including the same materials and scope of work.  If you have the time and the inclination, that is great however, we caution you against this route.  Especially if you do not have a construction background.  And no, handyman work around the house does not count – and neither does having a father or brother who is in construction!

Also, if you do not have all day every day to spend on managing your project, we highly recommend you hire a contractor.  If you think finding and interviewing one contractor is time consuming and stressful, think about how long it will take to tack on designing your space, gathering the necessary permitting documents, purchasing your material, coordinating the schedule for the installers, looking up online how to do the work, checking the quality of work, and keeping track of payments to sub-contractors and you will have a full time job!

What kind of contractor should I hire?

Sometime the question really isn’t “should I hire a contractor”, but “what kind of contractor should I hire?”

There are different types of contractors and it is important you understand the difference before reaching out to get estimates.

Specialty Trade Contractors:

These are contractors whose licenses are specific to one trade.  For example, a plumber is not trained or licensed to do drywall work.  A roofer is not trained or licensed to do stucco work.  If you have a garbage disposal that is backed up or broken, you would call a plumbing contractor because that is their specialty trade – plumbing.  If you would like to upgrade your electrical panel, you would call an electrician.

General Contractors – Sole Ownership:

General contractors have been trained and have all the skills necessary to perform any home remodeling service.  This does not mean they should.  General contractors who self-perform all the work have the basic knowledge necessary to complete your remodel, but they are not specialized in any one specific trade.  When a self performing contractor is working on your project, he is also responsible for trying to find additional work, creating proposals and estimates for other homeowners, taking care of his own warranty work, invoicing, collecting payments, scheduling, and gathering material.  This is a large workload for one person!

General Contractors – Corporation:

General Contractors who are a corporation are more established and larger organizations than a sole ownership.  Corporations are responsible for hiring, firing, and coordinating subcontractors and their installation schedule.  Many times they offer design and build services (most sole ownership contractors do not offer this option).  They also coordinate delivery and installation of finish materials (many sole ownership general contractors require the homeowners to take on this task).  All liability for injuries and property damage are the responsibility of your contractor (this is true whether you work with a sole ownership contractor or a corporation contractor)

Once you decide what type of project you are trying to accomplish, take a good hard look at your schedule and your finances before deciding whether or not to tackle a remodeling project on your own.  If you decide you want to hire a contractor, take the time to make sure you reach out to the correct type of contractor for your specific remodeling project.