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Renovation Series: Why Hire a General Contractor

This week we are sharing why it's important to hire a general contractor for your home renovation and the value they bring by having a team. Our goal for this series is to be a resource for anyone considering a home renovation, of any scale and budget. We will also review our first post, talking budget, quality, choosing your design partners and how it relates to hiring a general contractor.



Budgeting for a Remodel


Every decision surrounding a remodel will always circle back to your budget. It's smart to to determine a budget early on. This can be difficult when you don't know what to expect. You may have an idea of what something costs, or you might identify this an an opportunity to start researching.



If you have a general idea of what you want to remodel, let's say your kitchen, and a powder bath, talk to your contractor about pricing on those two spaces and they can give you a general number to plan for. We find that some people are hesitant to share their budget. The more you can share with a contractor, saves both of you time. And in general, it is never a good idea to rely on the TV shows and social media that show budgets, as they are always missing key elements. Most cases it's safe to assume your dream remodel is higher than you've planned for and that's okay. Builders can walk you through the process and help you scale back where needed.


The most common overlooked area in planning for a remodel is the costs on the pre-demo/design build phase. Some design build firms have architects in house and other firms outsource this to trusted architects. This cost will be at the client's expense, as it is an additional service. There is also a design cost to select all the materials for your remodel.


While it's nearly impossible to quote a budget without getting to know the project and overall scope, we have a general rule of thumb we use in early conversations we will add here:


Master Bathroom Remodel: Start at $50,000, we compare this to buying a car. The amount of money you're willing to spend on a new car typically equates to your bathroom renovation.

Kitchen Remodel: Start at $75,000, assuming this is a total gut of a modest sized kitchen, custom cabinetry, all new appliances, lighting, countertops, backsplash, etc..

Main Floor Renovation: Start at $150,000, this includes a combination of a few spaces, kitchen and mudroom, likely flooring and paint throughout the main floor. Possibly a mudroom, or removing a wall for expanded living space.

Whole House Renovation: Start at $250,000, typically a two story renovation, and does NOT include an addition.

Whole House Renovation + Addition: Start at $350,000, this number isn't tied to anything other than it's a larger project, scope overhaul and likely it'll exceed this number if we're doing a lot of custom work.


Research and discovery of your land, as built models, building code research, programming and permit fees, field verifications / land surveying and architectural designs, etc. are all things many people over look. Drawings are needed for permits, building, schedules and specifications. Of course, these are items your builder/remodeler should manage on your behalf.



Benefits of Hiring a General Contractor


1. Time Management

You have a full time 9-5 job; you work 40 hours a week. Why add more to your plate? On average our builders, project managers and design/operations team works 40+ hours a week whether it's on site, managing selections and deliveries, or even just thinking about your project.


2. Contracts

When you sign a contract, you have a guarantee if there's a problem, it will get handled not only efficiently, but correctly. Each contractor is different but your project will be under a warranty, so any problems after your project, your contractor will know exactly how to handle and in a timely manner since it's a part of the written contract.


There are also a lot of insurance papers and subcontractor contracts that go on behind the scenes. So even when you don't see anyone on the job site, they are busy pulling permits, getting new drawings from the architect, lining up the schedule, and above all making sure the job site is safe and ready for the next subcontractor to come through and complete their portion.


3. Experience, experience, experience

Occasionally people who ask for the bare bones of a project, and ask if they can do the rest them selves. Make sure you REALLY like DIY before you commit to a project that could end up exceeding your original budget and your original time commitment. This leads us into our next two reasons.


4. Licensing and Insurance

In order for a contractor to legally charge someone money for their work, they must be licensed by the state. With licensing, the state board ensures that the contractor is following all the rules and regulations in your area. Jkath license: #BC642455


On top of being licensed themselves, the have liability insurance and compensation for workers in case an accident happens and someone gets hurt on the job. An experienced builder will uphold high safety standards and a clean site to to prevent accidents.


5. Building Codes Knowledge

If you are remodeling your own home and lack knowledge of the industry, you won't be able to determine if the work of a subcontractor will pass inspection. Your general contractor will know all the local requirements and codes to save you the pressure of delays and extra money.


6. Trust

For us, we are a boutique remodel firm in Minneapolis/St.Paul Metro area. If one of our jobs is not satisfactory to our client, they will not be likely to recommend us. In this industry, recommendations are critical. Everything that a contractor selects from the materials, finishes, to the subcontractors, will be the highest quality and monitored closely. This ensures that together we will achieve the dream home that our clients are aiming for and above all make our clients happy for years to last.


7. Budget Assistance

Never worry about the cost breakdown of each item towards your set budget. A trusted contractor will make sure you are inline with your budget, and talk through any change orders that become necessary. Change orders are unforeseen costs like black mold, plumbing complications or an addition to the original scope (ie, add a front porch or custom beam work). If you are trying to manage your own budget, it can quickly get out of hand.


8. Paying a Builder's Fee

Wait, this is a benefit? Some people want to take on managing their own projects to save money and avoid paying a builder's fee. However, you can quickly lose money and time due to lack of communication between trades and overall delays with anything that is managed poorly. Often subcontractors respond more efficiently to contractors than they do to home owners. They have trusted relationships with contractors and can rely on a safe job environment, timely payment and organized communication regarding the scope of the project. It can be very challenging for subcontractors to rely on this information from the client directly who may not be well versed in this industry.


Occasionally we get feedback that potential clients are going with a different builder because they have a lower builder's fee. Builder fees vary from project to project but are typically consistent with scope size. Ask the right questions about how your builder's fee is determined. A great builder will talk you through your budget and provide frequent budget updates, or as requested; that way you can make sure they are on track and organized.


When you find a Design Build team that you love, trust the process and lean on this team. They are an extension of you and act as an advocate for the highest quality of work.


Check out our Custom Cabinet Series here.


In a custom build or renovation, never cut corners. This is your home, and in most cases, your forever home. You want to make sure the bones of your remodel will last as long as you live there. And often, this is the most important decision you've had to make since purchasing the home. Hiring an experienced general contractor will save you time, hassle and money.



Interested in connecting about your home renovation? Say hello here.


-Kayla and Jkath Team


Take a look at a few recent projects that we've completed by using our design/build team:

Arden Avenue - Whole house renovation

Westbrook Road - Kitchen remodel

Lake Harriet - Whole house renovation


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