Do you want to flex your creative muscles and save money while remodeling your home? If so, a do-it-yourself approach could be for you. But before you grab a hammer, you should consider the pros and cons of being your own general contractor.
Serving as a general contractor for an extensive kitchen overhaul or bathroom facelift is more about project management than construction. As the owner-contractor, you’ll be expected to hire and direct subcontractors, pull permits, order materials, and keep the project moving forward on time and on budget.
Are you ready for that weight to be on your shoulders? We’ve compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages to help you decide.
First, let’s establish what a general contractor is and what they do. Simply put, a general contractor oversees the execution of larger home projects.
This person or business is responsible for:
A general contractor won’t be seen grouting a shower wall or installing hardwood floor. Rather, these professionals play a more behind-the-scenes role in your home remodel.
What are the benefits of DIY’ing your home remodel? Serving as your own general contractor saves money, provides more control throughout the project, and helps you establish a network of helpful contacts.
Are you tight on cash? If so, being your own general contractor can slim down your budget and help offset the rising cost of lumber and labor.
Just how much money you can save depends on your specific project. Typically, general contractors charge about 10-20% of the total construction cost. However, for more extensive projects, you can expect to pay 25% or more.
Much of a general contractor’s job is communicating a homeowner’s vision to workers, subcontractors, vendors, and other people involved in the project.
But when that communication breaks down, mistakes occur. These mistakes might be small hiccups, like a plumber arriving an hour earlier than expected. However, serious errors can occur as well. A worker may improperly remove a load-bearing wall, for instance, or a subcontractor may install the wrong granite countertops.
Serving as your own general contractor gives you control over the entire project – from start to finish.
General contractors have a wealth of knowledge that the typical homeowner lacks. They have experience managing complicated construction projects, supervising subcontractors, and providing guidance when unexpected issues like mold or termite damage arise.
Though general contractors charge thousands of dollars, their technical know-how will help you avoid costly mistakes. If, for instance, you botch the plumbing in your powder room, you will need to fork out an additional $5,000 to $10,000 to replumb the space.
In sum, hiring a trained and licensed professional ensures that the work is done correctly the first time.
A time crunch makes any project more stressful, home renovations included. While some remodels can move slowly – a guest bedroom refresh, for instance – others are more pressing. If, for example, you’re DIY’ing your family’s only bathroom, you need to make quick work of the project.
Unfortunately, it can be hard for an amateur builder to serve as their own general contractor while also meeting a pressing deadline. Comparatively, general contractors are motivated to complete every job as efficiently as possible so that they can keep their queue moving.
Managing your own renovation is a physically demanding undertaking. If you don’t have the proper safety equipment, or if you have an old injury, you could seriously hurt yourself trying to lift and place material.
It depends. For better or for worse, North Carolina has fairly stringent laws surrounding owner-contractor home construction projects. According to general statute 87-1, any building construction or alteration project costing $30,000 or more must be supervised by a general contractor licensed in this state.
However, if the homeowner plans to occupy the dwelling for at least 12 months following the completion of the project, they may serve as their own general contractor. The only catch? They must submit an affidavit to the local building inspector verifying their eligibility for the owner-contractor exemption.
This affidavit must verify that:
To summarize, it is legal to be your own general contractor in North Carolina if you meet certain eligibility requirements.
But keep in mind that as the owner-contractor, you’ll be expected to field questions from the building inspector and, if your work isn’t up to code, you’ll be expected to fix your mistakes. Otherwise, you may face fines.
You might be tempted to tackle your kitchen makeover alone. After all, serving as your own general contractor can save money. However, as owner-contractor, you’ll be expected to lead subcontractors, fix hazardous problems like mold and water damage, and keep your project moving forward on time and on budget.
If you’re in the least bit intimidated by the prospect of managing a major home remodel, call Portico. As a reputable general contractor in Charlotte, we can provide the peace of mind and quality work you’re looking for. We also offer competitive rates.
Interested in learning more? Contact us today for a free project estimate.