Home Improvement – Should You Be Your Own General Contractor?

For those planning a home improvement project for which keeping the budget modest is a major factor, the question often arises, “Should I be my own general contractor?” Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

First let’s look at what a general contractor is and does.

In a nutshell, a general contractor, or GC, is the person responsible for the overall, successful completion of the project. On a small home improvement project that could mean doing the actual construction work as well as managing the details such as permits and staying on budget.

For a larger project such as a room addition, a major structural remodel or building an entire house, it falls to the GC to hire, manage and pay the sub-contractors (the workers who will be building the moulds, pouring the concrete, doing the framing, etc.) as well as making sure the job gets done on budget, on time and accurately.

If you are thinking of being the general contractor for a large project, having at least an intermediate level of knowledge of the construction process, including pulling permits, local construction codes, contracts and proper insurance is very important.

Also, you need adequate time to supervise the goings on at your site. I don’t know many people with the free time away from a job to successfully manage this type of large undertaking. If you are short on knowledge and/or time, but are still thinking of acting as GC on your major home improvement project, I wish you good luck. This is not to say you can’t do it, but the headaches might not be worth the trade off.

Let’s not forget that the main reason to act as your own GC is potential cost savings. Since professional GCs generally mark up every piece of material and every sub-contractor salary, sometimes by as much as 30% or more, if you can save some of that money by acting as your own GC, by all means do it.

But if you are not familiar with the details of completing your project, those potential cost savings can turn into cost overruns in a hurry. With a smaller home improvement project, however, the stakes are not as high and so the potential benefit is there without the same degree of risk.

But even with a smaller home improvement project, there are qualities a GC should have that are important.

Unless you’ll be doing all of the demolition, sawing, nailing and finishing yourself, as GC, you’ll be hiring, managing and paying the sub-contractors. People skills, knowledge of finances and a healthy dose of common, good sense are necessary.

If you’ve never done a home improvement project similar to the one you will be taking on, a willingness to ask questions – even ones you think are just plain dumb – is vital. Also, having a “can do” problem-solving attitude is recommended. After all, you’ll be the one everyone looks to when a fix, change or solution is needed.

The main argument against being GC on your own job is a big one. If you don’t like the finished job, you have no one to point the finger at (or fix what you are unsatisfied with) but yourself.

The value of a good GC is his or her experience and ability to solve problems. While there will certainly be extra cost involved in your job by hiring a general contractor, in the end the peace of mind might be worth the expense.

Home Improvement Projects Can Increase The Value Of Your Home

Home improvement projects can improve the look and value of your home dramatically. Though in some cases, using a home improvement project as a way to increase the value of your home can actually backfire and cost you money. So how will you be able to tell if the project that you have planned will add to the value of your home or decrease the value of your home?

The first thing that you need to know is the appraised value of your home. You must know the appraisal value, or estimated resale price, of your home before you can determine if a project will increase or decrease the value of your home. Although you may feel that your home is worth a certain amount of money, and that a home improvement will increase the value by X amount of dollars, your feelings will not set the final selling price, the appraisal will.

When completing a home improvement project that you believe will dramatically improve the resale value of your home, you need to consider your neighbors houses. If you have the nicest house in your neighborhood, but you are trying to sell it for twice as much as the appraisal value of other homes in the neighborhood, you will be disappointed.

A general guide is to not try to sell your home for more than 20% of what the surrounding homes will sell for. For simplicity, let us assume that the homes in your neighborhood are appraised at a value of $100,000. This would mean that you could expect to get about $120,000 out of your home if you make selective home improvements.

What this means for you as a homeowner is that you should seriously rethink any home improvement project that would cost more than $20,000 going by our above example. Using the above example, it is easy to see that a $30,000 home improvement project would cause you to lose money in the long run.

Now, if you can make a home improvement that costs very little, but results in a higher resale value, it may be a good idea to pursue that project. Going back to our example, if you can spend $5,000 on a project and this results in your home being appraised at $115,000, then it is a great investment idea.

You also want to consider the appeal that your home improvement project would have to a future owner. For example, swimming pools and hot tubs may be something that you enjoy, but would a potential buyer pay extra for those features? There are some fairly safe projects that you can pursue that other home buyers generally find valuable. Some of these include kitchen remodeling, adding or remodeling a bathroom, adding a new room, landscaping, etc.

Also keep in mind that maintenance projects do not usually result in an increased value for your home. Replacing a broken furnace or hot water heater usually will not improve the value of your home when selling it. These are considered maintenance issues that all homeowners expect the home to have working. Most people would not consider paying full price for a home that does not have these basic features in working order.

The bottom line is that if you are interested in increasing the resale value of your home you need to make smart decisions. Smart decisions on which home improvement projects to tackle can put extra money in your pocket when you sell your house.

New Look In Child’s Bedroom Home Improvement Project

Having children is such a wonderful experience for parents. Getting ready for the new baby can become a lot of fun, but a lot of work too. A child’s bedroom home improvement project can be as simple, or as hard as you want it to be. Once you have decorated for the baby and the baby grows up, they will outgrow the baby look room, and you will need to do something different in it. You might feel overwhelmed at not knowing what to do to change the room, and yet not spend a lot of money doing it. There are many ideas that you can do to change the look of the room without spending a lot of money. A child’s bedroom home improvement project might take a little creativity, but you can do it, and for not a large investment too.

Once your child goes from baby to toddler or older, you will definitely have to get a larger bed. A child’s bedroom home improvement project will have to include a different bed. The crib has to go, but there are places you can go to get a larger bed for your child without spending a fortune. If you don’t mind garage sales, you can find great buys on newer used items and in some cases, they may be something brand new that was just stored. Garage sales can be a blast. In order to spend less, set a budget and have an idea of what you are looking for. You can find many things in garage sales, that you don’t need, but want, so stick to your list and your budget. A child’s bedroom home improvement project can be very rewarding when finished, and you did all the work.

You might want to repaint the room as the starting point of your child’s bedroom home improvement project. There are many color choices these days, along with sample cards that you can take home and place on the wall to use as an example of what the color will look like. While you are in the paint department, you might want to look at some of the wallpaper borders available. They have many choices as well as popular cartoon picks. You can get pictures of cartoon characters that just stick up on the wall. You don’t even have to paste or glue. A child’s bedroom home improvement project can be that simple. If you are decorating a boys room, there are even sports characters that stick on the wall.

Make sure if you have the room, to add a desk or table and chairs, with a book shelf in your child’s bedroom home improvement project. Reading is a great thing for kids and the younger you start them out, the better they will do in school. You can pick these items up at garage sales or second hand stores too for little money. In some cases, you might find a good desk that just needs to be refinished. You might be able to pick one up for under ten dollars and once it is finished it could be worth hundreds. Once your child sees the changes you have made, they will be ecstatic. Yes, a child’s bedroom home improvement project can be a little work, but worth all the effort.