seeking remodel advice

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by greendragon, May 22, 2007.

  1. greendragon macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2006
    i'm going to attempt a home update remodel and act as my own contractor. has anyone here ever done this? and if so, please give advice.

  2. MultiM macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2006
    TO. I've moved!
    How much experience do you have dealing with subs etc? What sort of remodel? My best advice is to make sure your goals (needs) are clear and in writing to the sub. Get written agreement on deadlines, costs and the like. Good luck!
  3. Legolamb macrumors 6502a


    Nov 27, 2006
    North of where I'd like to be
    Besides the general knowledge needed re: building codes in your area, plumbing, electrical, carpentry knowledge, contractors have established relationships with many suppliers, and can more credibly deal with them on pricing and delivery time than a one-of client like you are. Delivery timing is critical when you are dealing with multiple suppliers. We tried to "save money" on our remodelling project. Ended up spending way more and nearly cost our marriage :eek: But it all depends on how complicated the job is.
  4. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
  5. SMM macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2006
    Tiger Mountain - WA State
    I have done this on several occasions. There are books on the subject. Your project can go smoothly, or be a nightmare. It is largely influenced by how good your project plan is, the subcontractors your select, and luck.

    Here are a few pointers:

    1) Make sure your plan has enough flexibility to allow for the unexpected. It will happen - even on small projects.

    2) Subcontractors usually pay for materials by credit. If they do not pay their supplier, you can be held equally accountable, even if you pay the subcontractor. This is really screwy, but is the law nonetheless. Make the subcontractor give you his materials invoice(s), and YOU write the check. Then deduct it from the bid total. If they will not do this, get one that will. Small construction companies are notorious for paying off their last job, with money from the current one. You do not want to do business with someone who is kiting.

    3) Everyone will supply references. Dig a little deeper. If it is a significant scope of work, check for lawsuits, and/or judgments against the sub. Important: be sure to check on any warrantee work that was required, and how well it was attended to.

    4) Read the contract carefully. Make sure the entire scope of work is clearly documented. If it is a time critical scope, add a penalty for delinquency.

    5) The subcontractor may require advance money. Much if this can be mitigated by doing item 2 (above). Smaller contractors, or larger projects may require to make periodic payments against a schedule of values (SOV). These are usually estimates ("I have now completed X% of the work, and am billing for that portion"). It is quite common for these SOVs to be challenged. Sometimes it is easy to discern. For example, if a sub is building a masonry wall, 40 feet long by 8 feet high, it is pretty to estimate what percentage has been completed. Some scopes are not as easy to determine. Use your judgement.

    6) It is common for the owner to hold back anywhere 5%-15% of each invoice. This is called retention, or retainage. The contract will stipulate when the final retainage payment is to be made. There is quite a bit of variability in this. A good rule of thumb is 30 days. That gives you some leverage, if you find any issues after the work has been completed.

    7) I am repeating, read the contract carefully. However, if you feel the contract is the main thing that is making you feel confident in using a sub, you have the wrong company. Contracts are the 'last line of defense'. You never want to go to court in a contract dispute.

    So, these are some quick and dirty tips. Picking the right people to work with is essential. But, you also must be honest about your abilities as a project manager. That is what you will be. If you sit back and wait for it to 'happen', you may create your own problems. Keep on track with what is happening. Identify problems early, and communicate any issue to everyone downstream. Be a good customer! Few people ever bother developing this skill. It is one of the most important things a person can learn. It helps you in so many places. Yet, it is often overlooked.
  6. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    One thing to keep in mind is how big and or expensive is this project. You can very easily run out of money or get in over your head if the project is to big and this is your first time as a GC.

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