Could I be my own GC?

dancingqueengwMarch 28, 2012

We have had four contractors come in to look at our Master Bedroom/Bath remodel. We have bids back from the two I like best but they are in the $40k range and that does not even include new carpet in the bedroom or closet. I'm thinking that perhaps I could skip a GC and do that myself. I do have an excellent electrician, tile guy and plumber who have done work on our home and I trust them. We could not DYI as I don't know how and my husband has significant health issues and no expertise. Do I just need to go for a GC and cut my material selections to the bone? The allowances from one bid are really low and the 2nd guy said that the labor would be about $25,000 and I could obtain my own materials. We would get rid of the popcorn ceilings, tear out and replace the tile floor with new heated tile, tear out and expand the shower by 4 inches, take out the old whirlpool tub and replace with freestanding, replace the toilet and replace one cabinet and both sinks. Maybe I just have sticker shock?

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What are you putting in this bathroom for $40K? I would ask for an itemized list of what the contractors have allowed for. Once you have that, you can go to your electrician, tile guy & plumber and let them bid their individual jobs. They can probably put you in touch with any other trades you need as well. For materials, you have the option of going through your subs and having an allowance or you can purchase all your materials yourself and have them just include labor in their quote. You will need to prepare a spec sheet for all your light fixtures, plumbing fixtures (incl. rough-in valves), floor tile, shower tile, tub, vanity, sink, countertop, & toilet. Use this list when getting your quotes. Then you can compare and see if there is any savings to be had by GCing yourself or if you're better off hiring a GC. Personally, I think it can be done for less (maybe 1/2 that much) and still have good quality & a mid- to high end look.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:35AM
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I have GC'd 2 bath renovations - no expansion of shower though - that's the only element of yours that concerns me. The other work you're planning you can definitely supervise. If you do decide to go with a GC - get them to quote the labor only and buy the materials yourself. you should be able to get a contractor discount on everything.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Yes, you have sticker shock.

Sure you can be your own GC. Do you know the order of the reno and which trade follows which? Can you accurately draw up the list of product to be used and purchase them all correctly and then store them until needed? DO you know how to create a waterproof shower and tell that it's been done correctly as well as perform other quality control inspections? Can you look at a plumbing rough in and be sure that the plumber hasn't compromised the floor joists by hacking on them too much? Do you have several hours every day to be available to answer questions on site with 15 minutes notice? Can you babysit half a dozen two year olds? Are you well organized, great at written and verbal communication and can easily handle conflict?

If you can't do every one of the above, then I suggest that you might get into more trouble than you realize by being your own GC.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:12PM
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For remodeling, you definitely could be your own GC as long as you have the time to do all the research and deal with the city permit office. Are you moving any walls? If not, it should be easy to get an over the counter no plan combination permit as owner/builder for your plumbing and electrical. You can even do this online in some cities.

Generally, most people that want to be their own GC do the demo themselves so you're going to have to find someone to do that and a carpenter to do the framing.

Also, the time frame of getting everything done extends greatly when you are your own GC. It's hard to get everything coordinated as well as a professional.

Like others have said, get an itemized list. How big is this bathroom? $40k sounds like a lot unless you're going super high end and moving a lot of plumbing.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Thank you for the input and I will ask for the detailed info. I am not moving any walls. I am moving a sink about 18 inches. I am expanding a shower by 4 inches and I am getting rid of a huge whirlpool and the deck that it is in and replacing it with a free standing tub. Maybe a tub with bubbles if I can afford it. I am replacing the ceilings, really just getting rid of the popcorn, and updating the recessed light fixtures and putting in a new more quiet fan- all are going into the same location. I am tearing out the tile floor and putting in new tile that is heated. No, I don't know the order of how things need to be done so that is a good point but $25,000 for six weeks of work seems like a lot to me for two people and I still have to buy everything else including cabinets, sinks tile and everything. I will ask my current guys for some idea of what things would cost and I appreciate the thought about that.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:02PM
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You may be suffering from sticker shock. Is replacing the popcorn ceilings the only thing you're doing in the bedroom?

This is what we did for about $45,000 in our master bed and bathroom remodel (bathroom is in the process right now), using a GC and his subs. We have worked with him and his team before; obviously, we like them. DH and I are at a point where we can't/won't DIY any big project. We have spread the project over about two years.

In the bedroom: repaired the subfloor, got very plush and thick new carpet and pads; skimmed and re-skimmed the walls ( a long, tedious job), and painted; replaced tinny old windows with four new Pellas, double-glazed with integrated blinds, added crown molding; moved ceiling light in sitting area and replaced it. One coat of primer, two coats of BM paint, eggshell on the walls, semi-gloss on the trim, flat on the ceiling.

In the bathroom: gutted the whole thing down to the studs in the floor and parts of the wall, put in new insulation and subfloors; all new plumbing, which was a big job, as the original was so old and messed up; skimmed the remaining walls; installed new vanity with double sinks; built new shower (a combo of Daltile and Walker Zanger), with two pony walls; frameless glass shower doors with Safeguard; all new hardware (Moen Kingsley) and medicine cabinet; new sconces, and can lights in the ceiling; paintied walls and trim. Not included are the new floor (vinyl, need the softest possible for my back and legs); probably two small wall cabinets matching the vanity; a piece of Corian to cover a long shelf next to the shower; a new bathroom door, paneled to match those in the bedroom. As is clear, we did not go high-end on everything, my goal was as pretty as we could afford and easy upkeep.

Have you DIY-ed a big project before? You need to have your plan complete before you begin, and have your materials chosen and ordered and timed for arrival appropriately. You need to coordinate all the sub-contractors, although the fact that you know them is good. We also know our team, but the fact that our GC can coordinate them so easily is very helpful. There is also the clean-up, which is a fairly big deal. Our old carpet, windows, shower, vanity, countertop, and all the other stuff was out the door and carted off so quickly that I barely saw it go, and the place was dusted and vacuumed perfectly. It is a very big job!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:37PM
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Wow sabel I wish I could get all of this. I am only replacing the popcorn ceiling in the bedroom. My plan is to replace the bedroom carpet later this year. I had thought about window replacement in the bathroom but windows are $4k each and I have three of them. I'm also not thrilled with the large window company that begins with A whose windows I've used as replacement in other parts of the house. I have to get them to come back out every year to adjust the crank so I can close the window. So not worth it.

I have a small dressing area with a sink that leads into the actual bathroom. I am keeping the cabinets in the dressing area but getting rid of the popcorn ceiling, replacing the sink and countertop and replacing the tile floor which also runs into the rest of the bathroom. The main part of the bath has the shower, a cabinet with a sink and the huge wasted space whirlpool tub. This is the part I want to gut. I would have very little change in where the plumbing would go - expand shower by 4 inches and move a sink 16 to 18 inches. Toilet would be new but in same place. Freestanding tub would replace the whirlpool.

I will go through and identify what I items I would like and how much each will cost. I don't know how to cost the shower glass but I am betting $1200 is really low for an allowance for a 46 x 46 shower when two sides are glass.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 9:10PM
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Lynne Reno

Our shower glass cost $1673 installed: 3/8" clear glass, chrome hardware. Door 24"x68" Return panel (this goes between tub and shower) 50 3/4" x 54 7/8", 12 1/8"x68" inline panel (goes next to shower door).

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:31PM
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