Tips & Advice On Residential Electrical Remodel
Residential General Contractors – When to Hire
A residential general contractor is a home remodeling professional who organizes and executes larger remodeling projects. Often these professionals are confused with home improvement pros. But as they will be quick to tell you, a home remodeling professional deals with longer projects that incorporate specific design and architectural ideas to provide a homeowner with a better living experience, either by adding space or making better use of an established space.
A home improvement contractor is usually tasked with smaller, though no less important items, such as installing new windows, flooring, cabinets, siding, landscaping, etc. A good way to think of a residential general contractor is that he is in charge of home improvement contractors, or what are referred to in the field as “subcontractors”.
When to Hire Residential Contractors
Many people do not realize that the average kitchen remodel takes 5-6 weeks to complete. Not to mention that to complete the remodel you are likely to need an electrician, a plumber, a countertop contractor, a cabinet contractor, a flooring pro, a painter, and someone to install the appliances. That’s a lot of people.
The brilliance of a residential general contractor is that he can not only coordinate all of these other professionals and schedule them so that one person is not in another’s way, but he also knows what a good price is on their labor charge and how to do some of the work himself, whereas the average homeowner will not.
Why Hire a General Contractor?
Having read this far, you may already have a sense of why you might want to hire a general contractor. A general contractor can be a major asset. Here is why.
First, they know the codes. Hopefully you have hired someone who is recommended and has a good reputation. They will understand what permits need to be pulled and how to get code enforcement to approve the project. If you have never dealt with building codes and inspectors, this can be a major asset.
Second, they know the process to get the job done as efficiently as possible. They should understand which components need to be completed when and know how to schedule their sub-contractors accordingly.
Third, the liability is often transferred to the general contractor if someone gets hurt. Any general contractor worth his salt will have worker’s comp insurance and thus protect you if someone falls off the roof.
Fourth, they likely can get better prices on materials and labor. This is simply the nature of the business. They do more volume and already have good relationships with sub-contractors; thus, they get better prices and may actually save you money in the long run.
Finally, they can warranty their work. If something goes wrong in six months, most folks will come out and try to make it right. After all, they want more business from you, and good ones stand behind their work and reputation.
What Does a General Contractor Do?
A general contractor will oversee your entire project and make sure it is done to your satisfaction. Let’s imagine you’re getting ready for a full kitchen renovation. You may not realize that a kitchen renovation involves several kinds of subcontractors, all performing different tasks at different times. For one kitchen reno, you may need the help of an electrician, a plumber, a countertop manufacturer, a cabinet contractor, a flooring specialist, painters, and finally someone to install your new appliances. That’s a long list of people for you to be in charge of!
Hiring a general contractor will ensure that the proper trades are hired and the work gets done. General contractors know how to hire, coordinate and schedule all the subcontractors so you don’t have to. They also have an advantage over the average homeowner because they know pricing and good quality work when they see it.
Another thing your general contractor will take care of for you is all administrative tasks. From ensuring all subcontractors are paid, to getting building permits, to securing insurance for all workers. Your general contractor will have the appropriate liability insurance and workers’ compensation should anything go wrong. Often times basic homeowner insurance will not be sufficient enough for a renovation project.
Hiring a general contractor also comes with a warranty of at least one year. This means that if anything should go wrong with your newly renovated kitchen, you can simply call your general contractor to fix it. They will either take care of the issue themselves or get in touch with the original subcontractor to make the repair. If you do not have a general contractor, you will be the one trying to track down the plumber you hired. You will also have to pay for any repairs or touch-ups out of pocket if you act as your own general contractor.
The responsibilities of a general contractor
Residential contractors oversee and coordinate nearly every aspect of a home improvement or remodeling project. They hire the other professionals whose skills are needed, from plumbing and electrical subcontractors to painters and flooring installers. Whatever trade or professional services are required, the general contractor will schedule the subcontractors so that work is completed in the most efficient order.
Qualified contractors will also have proper licensing, worker’s compensation and insurance, which means they take on the liability for property damage or injuries that may occur. The less tangible — but still important — value they bring to your job includes expertise in project management, plus knowledge of the best construction methods, local building codes and the industry standards that apply to your particular project.
In addition, should something go wrong, the general contractor will be responsible for having it made right and for the costs to do so.
General contractors also have a role in the validity of certain product or material warranties. Roofs, windows and other features (especially those that are critical to structural integrity and long-term performance) may have warranties that will be voided if the work to install them isn’t performed by a qualified and certified contracting professiona
Shouldn’t Contractors Have Their Own Staff?
If you decide to hire a general contractor, he or she may have a permanent staff of employees. In this case, you might have few, if any, subcontractors involved in your project. Hiring employees versus subcontractors is an economic decision. The employer — in this case, the general contractor — must pay salaries and purchase worker’s compensation insurance for employees. It’s not cost effective to increase the size of my staff because the workload is inconsistent. Hire subcontractors to do anything beyond what my employees can do.”
Since subcontractors are independent business people, general contractors don’t have to pay to insure them or pay employment taxes on them. Hiring subcontractors for overflow work or to perform tasks that call for expertise that isn’t needed on a regular basis saves expenses for the general contractor and ultimately, for you.