The art of becoming your own home improvement contractor depends on the size of the project, your own experience and the amount of learning you require beforehand. You need to understand what a contractor does if you wish to be your own home improvement contractor. First of all, he need not do any of the work himself. The project manager is the home improvement contractor. He keeps the project on time, oversees everything from planning to order materials to hiring subcontractors. In most cases, he provides worker's compensation, liability insurance and obtains permits.
The main qualities of a good general contractor are experience and know how. Whether you can bring that to the table depends on the project. It is easier to be a home improvement contractor if the project is smaller. Information can be found at home improvement stores, TV, the internet and any number of books. To start, you have to plan the project in detail. Finding out what materials will be required, what subcontractors you will need and how long it will all take.
Next, enquire if any building permits will be needed. Most new structures and some electrical need permits. Find out with your local authority to understand the requirements. While you're at it, find out about building codes and zoning regulations. You might need planning help from an expert for larger job.
To locate and hire any subcontractor would be the next big responsibility for a home improvement contractor. Subcontractors are the experts who do a specific part of the project, this include electricians, plumbers and any other type of expert who can do a job that you would rather not do. This is where being your own home improvement contractor can be a disadvantage. An experienced local contractor has relationships and experience with local subcontractors.
You will need to hunt out each subcontractor, coming out a contract and supervise the work as the home improvement contractor. Many subcontractors realize that you will only need to hire them once and may not be motivated to do the same kind of job they would do for a contractor who means a lot of return business. You can overcome that problem by establishing a good relationship with the subcontractor and providing a good working environment. A good deal of education and a detailed understanding of the project can help you find success as a home improvement contractor.
Tips to Start with
It's a good idea to get a few quotations once a project has been decided. The project has to be defined and the requirements highlighted to achieve this. Obtain at least 3 quotations. Don't be taken in by very low quote as it can mean that substandard material will be used, inexperienced workers will be hired or that the price will increase as the project proceeds. Prepare the home improvement contract with your selected contractor. It should include all of the project's demands.
The home improvement contract should comprise of specific materials, all scopes of work to be done, start and completion dates, a warranty on the work and materials, the contractor's specific duties (site cleanup, getting permits, etc.), a clause limiting work to the home improvement contract and stating that any additional work requires a change order, the manner of settling disputes should be highlighted and a clause allowing either party to back out of the contract within three days of signing without penalty.
The home improvement contract should also include a payment schedule and not make a large deposit. Ten percent is just nice with regular payments made by schedule or at the time that certain benchmarks are completed. Be sure that all the work is done to your expectation before you make the final payment. Use the home improvement contract to spell out all understandings between you and your contractor. If you expect the contractor to personally oversee certain aspects of the job, put it in the home improvement contract.
In the home improvement contract, if you want the contractor to give liability insurance and worker's compensation. Don't leave anything to chance. Most contractors have several projects going at the same time and verbal agreements can be forgotten, misunderstood or confused. Before signing the home improvement contract, ask any questions to ensure that you understand what the meaning of each clause. Home improvements can be stressful, let the home improvement contract take some of the stress away.