Be Your Own Contractor?

onthelakeMarch 22, 2009

Good Day,

My husband and I will begin work on our 1904 house this year. It has good bones, but needs a TLC, updates to the kitchen and bath, new roof and winterizing (heating system and insulation). We had planned on being our own GC, doing what work we can ourselves and hiring out what we do not have the skills for (electric, plumbing, gas lines, roofing, heating system, insulation). We have the added bonus of a father who has a good general knowledge of housing issues and would assist us with the "oversee" aspect of being our own GC. I also have the time free to be present and active as a GC and DIYer (as in no 9-5 job to go to).

I wanted to hear about the experiences of other who have acted as their GC and any advice you could offer.

Many thanks.

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We have done this in four houses and it turned out fine. We are lucky to have a carpenter who knows alot about the other work, but prefers not to be the GC, but is around to help troubleshoot. You sound like a good candidate. The main issue you might run into is finding subs that will take you seriously because you're not in the business. You just have to be upfront, ask lots of questions and let them know there is plenty of work down the road if this one works out. I would start with a small project to get your feet wet, keep files, get every estimate and contract in writing, etc. Act like its a business, because it is. Also take out permits, as you'll then have the inspectors on your side too.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 7:50PM
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My experience has been the same as Allison1888's - I am the GC on my current kitchen remodel, but my carpenter is a friend who helps enormously.

I must say that I find the exacting detail of being the GC exhausting. "Do you want this line here or 1-1/2" to the right?" Should the cover panel be 24" or 24-3/4"? My brain doesn't work like that naturally, and it wears me out to do it. Only the fact that I'm saving money makes it worthwhile. (For example, I'm spending only about $7,000 more on my kitchen, complete with moving the plumbing and new everything, than I did to remodel the master bath five years ago, with a GC. Both were complete gut and rebuild jobs.)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 6:59AM
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You will need to oversee the work and that can be difficult if you have other responsibilities outside of the house.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:21AM
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Thanks for the ideas. Allison--that's exactly how I had planned on attacking the idea: as a business. It's good to know I was not deluding myself into thinking just because I can run a business efficiently I can also manage this. I look forward to that aspect of the renovation and is part of the reason we decided to enter this adventure now--at this point in time, I can make this my full-time job. I am ridiculously meticulous about details and budgets and contracts and schedules. I miss that part of my old job, in fact. I understand (see other post about timelines) that this is a slower way of going about things, but I can accept that.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:42AM
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