If you’re planning a major home renovation, you’ve probably heard the term General Contractor come up. You may be curious as to what a general contractor does and if you really need to hire one. Before you begin your next project, take some time to find out why and when you should hire a general contractor. It may end up saving you a lot of stress, time and money.
What is a General Contractor?
Most simply put, a general contractor is the person in charge of getting your project done. There are both commercial and residential general contractors, but we will be focusing on residential general contractors as they are the kind you would be hiring for any home improvement project.
A residential general contractor is the person who executes larger home projects and organizes all of the trades involved with the project. If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, this will require the work of several trades or subcontractors as they’re sometimes referred to. A general contractor will find and hire these subcontractors, work out the administrative duties involved, and ensure your kitchen renovation is completed on time and on budget. They oversee all aspects of the project so you don’t have to worry about it.
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.
Why Do You Need a General Contractor?
A general contractor will take much of the stress out of your renovation experience. You will not have to worry about working out confusing schedules or having the right permit. Your general contractor will take care of all of that for you — that’s why you hired them.
Another benefit of having a general contractor on your project is that they will always be the single point of contract. Should anything go wrong with your project, or there is a disagreement between trades, your general contractor will be able to step in and sort it all out. General contractors have seen it all, and will know how to handle any problem should it come along.
General contractors come with a wealth of knowledge and experience that is invaluable to your project. They understand how homes are constructed and know the sequence that projects should be carried out. They also understand building codes and other legislation so you don’t have to.
When Should You Hire a General Contractor?
Hiring a residential general contractor is not always necessary. In fact, there are many jobs that will only require you to work with a subcontractor directly. If you’re unsure of whether you need one or not, keep these tips in mind. You should hire a general contractor if your project…
- Will take longer than a week
- Involves several different subcontractors
- Requires permits
If you are simply having your living room repainted or your shower drain fixed, you do not need to hire a general contractor. If you are having a major renovation done, such as your bathroom, kitchen, or basement, it’s a good idea to invest in a general contractor.
How Much Does a General Contractor Cost?
The cost of a general contractor depends on the price of the overall completed project. Some will charge a flat fee but it is more common that you will end up paying a percentage of the overall project to the general contractor. In general, they charge between 10 and 20 percent of the total job cost. This price includes all of the total cost of materials, permits, and subcontractors. Keep in mind the countless hours of stress and planning a general contractor will take away from you. Paying someone else to oversee all details is well worth the money.
Now that you have a better understanding of what general contractors do, why and when you should hire them, you can confidently make a decision as to whether your project needs one. When you’re ready to hire a general contractor, click on the below banner to be connected with top general contractors in your area for free. Hiring a general contractor might be the best decision you’ve made for your home.
Article updated November 26, 2019.