Tag Archives: contractor

Recommended Summer Reading

I hope you are all having a great summer. If you have the opportunity to take vacation this summer and have some time for a little light reading, why not read up on home building and renovations? One of the best ways to ensure that you have a positive experience building your new home or with your major renovation is to make sure that you are educated about the process. In past articles I have talked about finding a builder you can trust. Once you find that builder, you still need to make sure that you maintain a level of oversight to make sure you do not get overcharged or ask for things outside your contract.

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Filed under General Questions, Home Improvements

DIY or Hire A Contractor for Home Improvements?

So, you want to be “that guy”.

The one who decides to build a detached garage by himself. The guy that doesn’t have the right tools, so he MAKES the tools out of scrap iron and a wires stripped out of a broken lawnmower.

You want to be McGuyver.

How hard could it be?

Don’t we all? Not just to show your spouse how manly you are. Not just because you want to save money. But because the idea of paying someone to do something that looks so simple just bothers the hell out of you.

Before jumping headlong into this “easy” project, make sure you are hungry, because a big ol’ bite of humble pie may be in your future.

We all have skills. No doubt many of you are capable and skilled enough to do home improvement projects. I simply caution you that approaching a task that looks simple, but is beyond your technical ability, could cause more headaches than its worth. To figure out if you should tackle a project yourself or pay a professional, ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I afford to pay someone to do it?
If the answer is yes. Then hiring someone is certainly an option. If the answer is no, you need to ask yourself some more questions…

2. Do I have the tools for the job?
If not, does the cost of the tools, outweigh the cost of the contractor?

3. Do I have the skill and experience to do the job?

If you have done a similar project in the past, you should feel comfortable doing it again. But if you need an extra set of hands, ask a friend to help. Share your skill. If you are not sure if you have the skill, that should be your first red flag.

4. Do I have the time?
Life gets in the way. If you need that deck put up in a hurry in time for a party or family function, you may want to consider hiring someone to get it done for you. Work, kids, family all make jobs take twice as long as you think.

5. Can you afford to do it wrong? What starts out as a project with the best of intentions – saving money, making the wife happy etc… could end up cost you a lot. If you tackle a project beyond your abilities, you might end up having to hire a contractor to fix your mistakes thus costing you more money, pissing off your wife and more importantly, creating an event that lets your spouse use the phrase “remember that time you tried….”.

In the end you need to like the result. If you do it wrong, your mistake will be staring you in the face for a long time and you will not be happy. If you hire a qualified professional to do it, you may not be able to beat your chest and claim it as your work, but you can enjoy the home improvement and still take credit for making it happen.

So, before you jump headlong into any home improvement project, do an honest assessment of all the questions above. Generally, the larger the project, the more likely it is you should hire a professional. The same goes for project complexity. If a project involves electrical, plumbing and other components, get a general contractor (such as myself) involved to manage the subs for you. If all you are doing is replacing a toilet, building shed or something that does not have the potential to adversely affect your quality of life, then have at it McGuyver and be “that guy”.

Good luck!

– Jim


Filed under Home Improvements

English Please!

How many times have you approached a contractor and asked a simple question, and in return heard an explanation full of terms like e-factors, stress bearing walls, truss angle and zip system approaches. All you want to know is if the skylight can be moved. Instead you hear “blah blah blah blah, skylight, blah blah blah, …no.”

Well, from personal experience, I can tell you that going into a realtor or banker’s office is no less painful. I’d like to think that as a builder I speak in a language that my customers can understand, with answers that are simple, to the point and not full of “see how smart I am” language. Well, let me tell you, a lot of real estate agents and bankers do not have this same philosophy and quite frankly can make a nerve-racking experience for the new home buyer even more stressful. I mean when the banker asksĀ  “Would you like a fixed or an adjustable rate loan?” or “Do you want a mortgage with or without this points?”. I can see the look on the future home owners face…you know the one? The “what the #$@*&!! is he talking about” face.

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Filed under General Questions