Whether you’re doing home renovations in Vancouver or anywhere in the country, the basics are the same. Home renovation projects are typically controlled by a general contractor. He will estimate the scope of your job, determine what trades are involved and draw up the appropriate plans. This would include hiring all sub-trades, getting the proper permits and supervising on site operations.
General contractors take care of functions that tradesmen like plumbers can’t do. They control the project, overseeing everything to completion. You might try to do this yourself but end up with problems that no specific trade could fix. Amateurs attempting a full scale job will run into trouble. So at the very least, meet with a professional to see what jobs you will be competent performing if you want to get involved in the work.
Meeting With the General Contractor
Drawing up an estimate can take quite a few hours, so remodeling contractors will meet with you to see of they are a good fit for your project. For example, you may say you want a kitchen renovation job when all you really need done is the counter top and a few cosmetic changes. Well this is probably a job better suited for a handyman. If so, ask for a referral to a tradesman they know.
If you feel it’s important to put a time line on your project, consider that your contractor has to determine how busy their tradespeople are at that time of year. For instance, if you wanted a brand new kitchen done before Christmas, and it’s already September 15th, the contractor will have to check schedules for the entire work force to see if they’re booked up. If the carpenter and plumber are really busy, they may need to charge for overtime which will add to the estimate.
The general contractor is the supervisor and may not actually do any of the physical work. His job is to make sure tasks are done in sequence, on time, and hopefully on budget. So if the kitchen remodel comes to $10,000 he may add 15%, to see that the entire project is complete.
That fee is a bargain if you consider how costly it can be if you mess up. What would it cost if a wall has to be re-done, or you have to re-schedule an entire crew like the electrician for instance. Your job could come to a grinding halt if that happened.
A contract is a binding legal agreement with your home renovations company, and details the rights and responsibilities to ensure your project is done to your satisfaction. It also safeguards you from financial or personal loss, for bad workmanship, or on-site injury during the project. When everything is spelled out in the contract, it leaves little room for confusion. A good estimate is spelled out in detail and then if agreed on, the contract is drawn up in detail.