Home Improvement – Should You Be Your Own General Contractor?

For those planning a home improvement project for which keeping the budget modest is a major factor, the question often arises, “Should I be my own general contractor?” Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

First let’s look at what a general contractor is and does.

In a nutshell, a general contractor, or GC, is the person responsible for the overall, successful completion of the project. On a small home improvement project that could mean doing the actual construction work as well as managing the details such as permits and staying on budget.

For a larger project such as a room addition, a major structural remodel or building an entire house, it falls to the GC to hire, manage and pay the sub-contractors (the workers who will be building the moulds, pouring the concrete, doing the framing, etc.) as well as making sure the job gets done on budget, on time and accurately.

If you are thinking of being the general contractor for a large project, having at least an intermediate level of knowledge of the construction process, including pulling permits, local construction codes, contracts and proper insurance is very important.

Also, you need adequate time to supervise the goings on at your site. I don’t know many people with the free time away from a job to successfully manage this type of large undertaking. If you are short on knowledge and/or time, but are still thinking of acting as GC on your major home improvement project, I wish you good luck. This is not to say you can’t do it, but the headaches might not be worth the trade off.

Let’s not forget that the main reason to act as your own GC is potential cost savings. Since professional GCs generally mark up every piece of material and every sub-contractor salary, sometimes by as much as 30% or more, if you can save some of that money by acting as your own GC, by all means do it.

But if you are not familiar with the details of completing your project, those potential cost savings can turn into cost overruns in a hurry. With a smaller home improvement project, however, the stakes are not as high and so the potential benefit is there without the same degree of risk.

But even with a smaller home improvement project, there are qualities a GC should have that are important.

Unless you’ll be doing all of the demolition, sawing, nailing and finishing yourself, as GC, you’ll be hiring, managing and paying the sub-contractors. People skills, knowledge of finances and a healthy dose of common, good sense are necessary.

If you’ve never done a home improvement project similar to the one you will be taking on, a willingness to ask questions – even ones you think are just plain dumb – is vital. Also, having a “can do” problem-solving attitude is recommended. After all, you’ll be the one everyone looks to when a fix, change or solution is needed.

The main argument against being GC on your own job is a big one. If you don’t like the finished job, you have no one to point the finger at (or fix what you are unsatisfied with) but yourself.

The value of a good GC is his or her experience and ability to solve problems. While there will certainly be extra cost involved in your job by hiring a general contractor, in the end the peace of mind might be worth the expense.

Easy Home Improvement Projects

Fixing up your home can be fun and often times very profitable even when you’re only doing a few easy home improvement projects. There are several touches that you could add to a bathroom or kitchen for added value in your home. These easy home improvement projects are very quick too. In this article you will learn some modest ways to fix up your home, and add significant value in less than a day.

Adding Trim to Your Ceiling

One of the neat tricks you can do when creating some easy home improvement projects is to add some trim around the top of your ceiling. Simply take a border of colorful wall paper about 5 to 6 inches wide and apply it around the top of the ceiling. This will give your room a rich look and is very cost effective.

Paint Your Bathroom Light Switches

If you would like to save some money fixing up your bathroom you can paint the light switches. Don’t forget to do the plug-in covers as well. There are several easy home improvement projects that you can do to the bathroom. Maybe you could add a toilet seat cover and matching towels to add a nice look. The cost is very minimal, but can add a nice touch to the room. If you have a spare bedroom you may want to consider painting those switches as well.

The kitchen is another place where you can apply some easy home improvement projects. Try changing the handles on your cabinets. If the timing is right, you may find some great deals on closeout cabinet accessories at your local stores. Often times at the end of the year your local stores will have huge clearance sales and unload very nice packages of hardware to add to your kitchen cabinets. This is great when searching for some easy home improvement projects to do.

Change the Lights for Appearance and Savings

There are so many choices in lighting these days. You could add a couple simple energy saving lights to your kitchen or bathroom for your next easy home improvement projects. Many lights can add value and energy savings, helping the budget as well. Once you have finished inside you may want to think about some easy home improvement projects for the outside of your home next.

You can add some lighting to the outside of your home to make some nice touches. This is another one of those easy home improvement projects that only takes a couple hours, but if done right, can add value and convenience if you have nighttime gatherings at your home. As you can see there are many simple little projects you can implement to add some easy decorative touches to your home.

Look Online for Some Ideas

The internet is a wonderful place to search for easy home improvement projects. You just might be surprised just how simple and fun it can be the next time you get ready to make a few changes to your home.

Quality Home Improvement Ideas for Budget Bathroom Remodeling

When homeowners want to start a home improvement project around the home, whether it’s in the kitchen or it’s a major bit of bathroom renovation, they tend to get sticker shock once the research begins. Budget remodeling is key, but that’s doesn’t mean you have to settle on the cheapest goods, materials and labor. It just means smart home improvement. You can use some tried and true home improvement tips to shave money off the cost of your next remodel that will still turn a simple bathroom into something truly unique.

Of course the best way to eliminate budget problems is to plan appropriately. Nothing will blow your home improvement budget faster than going at it without a plan. A general contractor will help you plan accordingly but if you’re doing it alone you definitely need to take the time to develop a game plan for your bathroom renovation and remodeling. Get the big problems drawn up first, figure out your dislikes and target those things that you’d love to update. Here are some great tips to update your bathroom without breaking the bank:

Home Improvement Design Challenge One – Ditching the same tired color scheme

Updating the colors in your bathroom is easy, and there’s really no cheaper way to go about giving your bathroom a new look during the home improvement process. Too many bathrooms are a drab white or come with contrasting “safe” colors that contractors use in the building process. The problem with stark white or contrasting blacks & whites is that they don’t often match the personality of the homeowner. Use softer tones, earth-tones and other simple palette choices to quickly transform your bathroom into a room you’ll find most comfortable.

Home Improvement Design Challenge Two – Shrinking the Vanity

The vanity is the focal point for most bathrooms. It’s not uncommon to have a lot of counter space in master bathrooms with plenty of storage. A small vanity is common in smaller bathrooms. If you can get away with it, don’t replace this with another big cabinet system. Instead, purchase a pedestal sink and open up the floor plan. The style and extra space will definitely enhance the comfort of the room.

Home Improvement Design Challenge Three – Originality in the Flooring

This is where a lot of homeowners try to save money by installing cheaper material like a vinyl floor or cheap replica tile. Instead of getting cheap on the material, do something a bit more unique. If you decide to splurge in one area, this is where you should do it. You want your floor to be durable and last, while also standing up against the moisture. A great idea (and easy to install) is a pebble floor using smooth natural stones or larger glass beads.

Bringing Your Bathroom Remodel Together

If you’re concerned with how budget remodeling will look in your bathroom, remember that decorating and some additional improvements can really accent the remodeling you do in the rest of the bathroom. Custom moulding isn’t expensive, especially in a small bathroom space and it can really flesh out your color in the paint. Likewise, linen shower curtains can help the reach of your linen curtains. It doesn’t take much to create a beautiful new bathroom and you can still get a custom, luxury look even on a budget.