A Home Remodel: Tips and Tricks

Ourr home remodel back in November 2018 and we are just now wrapping it up in August 2019. Our contractor told us that we would be done by May 3, 2019, our due date for baby Theodore. Well, that didn’t happen. Here’s why and what I recommend you do to keep your project on time, or at least close to the due date.

Hiring a General Contractor

  1. Make sure the person you hired is licensed or that you are covered under your homeowners insurance, if anything were to go wrong (this includes someone getting hurt on the job site or flooding, for example)
  2. Make sure this is your GC’s full time job, make sure that they don’t have another full time job to balance- if your GC has another full time job and this is his part time gig, trust me, it will not work
  3. Ask him, “How do you ensure work is done correctly on site?” You want a GC that will be there at the beginning of the day to explain work that needs to be done, so errors aren’t made and your project isn’t delayed.
  4. “How do you evaluate the work when it is done at the end of the day?” He should be onsite every day so mistakes can be fixed same day as to not delay your project.
  5. Ask, “How many different people do you have for each trade?” You want to know how many bids he plans to get for each trade. For example, ask for plumbing, electrical, structural engineering, architect plans etc. You want to have a GC that has SEVERAL GREAT people.
  6. Ask for references for previous jobs, and ask how many projects were done on time
  7. Research each reference thoroughly and make sure that you have a “good feeling.” Did the previous jobs approve of his work, was the work exceptional? Did your GC complete their job on time? Did they have any issues with poor work? Did they pass inspection on the first try?
  8. But a “good feeling” isn’t all you need… you have to have hard evidence that he does GREAT work… you need PROOF.

It is your GC’s job to…

  1. Be on site each day that there is work done.
  2. Review the work same day- for example, if there is a plumber there, make sure your GC verifies that the work is being done correctly and that, hopefully there are no leaks/ water getting into the house.. More on this later.
  3. Write up the plans that include the electrical and plumbing plan prior to the remodel even starting
  4. Verify that the plan written up is what you agree to as homeowners
  5. Complete the project in the timeframe that is set forth, otherwise they won’t be receiving payment
  6. Stay on budget, get competitive bids, show you those bids (minimum 3)
  7. Provide references for all trades.. you want to make sure that these people know what they are doing
  8. Ensure that each trade is licensed, and be able to present the license to you.
  9. Draw up the permit and schedule inspections.
  10. Be on site for inspections and notate any changes that need to be made (If you have a good GC, there shouldn’t have to be any changes during and inspection.. if there are changes start making a note of how many, because too many means he isn’t hiring skilled workers and will extend your timeline).
  11. Schedule trades to come onsite to fix any changes from inspection.
  12. Mediate any discussions or concerns around poor performance from trades.

This is just a start on what a GC needs to do, I’m going to continue to try to share with you the issues we had, but this is hopefully a good start to get your project going. At the end of the day, I truly believe that you can be your own GC. You need a flexible job so you can be onsite a lot, but if that is possible, try it. We finished our project on our own, it may take longer but it will be done right. And if your GC isn’t doing his job anyways and you are the one late at night researching on YouTube what a “rough in” plumbing inspection is, then you might be able to be your own GC. At the end of the day if the work isn’t right, your inspector will tell you so. There are checks and balances in place, but it is always better to have the work done right in the first place.

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