Should I Be My Own General Contractor? Part 3

Quick recap, you’ve weighed the pros and cons and chose to be your own General Contractor (GC); you’ve also jumped the initial insurance and bank hurdles. Now it’s time to find contractors to give you estimates. As a general rule of thumb 3-5 estimates are a good comparison. Start with 3 and if you have one estimate that is drastically different (low or high) get another estimate; or if one contractor you met with made you feel uncomfortable, get another estimate. The goal is to feel confident in the contractor and their crew’s ability to do quality work.

When picking subcontractors, look for companies that can offer full service within their interior or exterior fields. The more they can do the less contractors you have to coordinate schedules through. For example, if you find a roofing company that also offers siding and gutters, get estimates for all three. If you go with a multi-service company, they will schedule the workers accordingly and if any delays arise they already know and will accommodate, again, less work for you as the GC. Look for companies with a reputable background, local office, have longevity, and have all the necessary licenses per state requirements. A good place to start is to call around to builders and ask for recommendations or who does their work.

Many homeowners think they can shop around and purchase materials cheaper than the contractors. However, this is rarely the case, and if it is the case, you might be looking at lower quality materials. The reason? Many contractors have a standing relationship with their supplier and get discounted rates based on the annual volume of materials that contractor buys from that supplier. Contractors often purchase their materials in bulk, which results in a discount. If you decide you still want to purchase the materials yourself, you are in charge of determining the amount of materials and what materials for the job. If the contractor installing the work is NOT providing the material, they will not spend the extra time coming up with a material list for you (unless otherwise compensated). If any additional material is needed while installing, whoever purchased the materials is required to supplement. If the contractor supplies the material, they can arrange for the supplier to send the needed material quicker than calling you, the GC, to get it. If you do decide to still purchase the materials yourself, shop a few different suppliers and make sure the quality of products are equal.

Typically, the builder or GC is in charge of getting all the necessary permits for each step. It may raise your estimate a bit, but specifically ask that each contractor get the permits themselves. Why? For a few reasons: A homeowner can pull any building permits for their own property without having any state required licenses. If the contractor pulls the permit, this ensures that they have all the proper licenses and insurance, because they cannot obtain the permit with out it. Contractors are also more familiar with the permit process and won’t get hung up by overlooking details.

When commencing work, it’s a good idea to have your contractors sign a document that says something similar to the following even if they are properly insured and covered with workers compensation.

“The Contractor expressly agrees that it shall be solely responsible for supervising its employees, that it shall comply with all rules, regulations, orders, standards, and interpretations, promulgated pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, including but not limited to training, recordkeeping, providing personal protective equipment, Safety Data Sheets and labeling as required by the right to know standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200

The parties intend that an independent contractor relationship and not employer-employee relationship will be created by the agreement. (YOUR NAME) is interested only in the results to be achieved. The Contractor is responsible for the means and methods of achieving the project goal.”

This basically covers you from any fines or responsibility if OSHA gets involved with an accident or procedures not properly followed.

Lastly, whether you decided to do it yourself or go through a general contractor, enjoy it! You are building your home and it’s an exciting step in your life.

Out-of-Town Roofing Contractors

Roofing Bloomington, IL

Many homeowners in Central Illinois were devastatingly impacted by the storm that arrived last fall- home repairs continue to ensue 6 months later.  As a local contractor, it is our responsibility and duty to both inform and educate the Bloomington/Normal area in regards to the risks of out of town contractors, commonly known as “storm chasers”.

The exterior construction business is a rather large portion of all remodeling that takes place on homes; it continues to have national, year over year growth.  As the demand for exterior construction needs rises, the population of “storm chasers” has proportionately grown. These contractors will follow storm activity nationally, never staying too long in one place. It is commonplace for “storm chasers” to ascend upon a storm ravaged area with a sales staff exceeding twenty sales people.  These sales people will go door-to-door knocking and asking for permission to inspect the damaged roof, siding, gutters, and/or air conditioner. Upon completion of the inspection, the sales staff may ask to contact your insurance company directly; they may even ask for a signature seeking permission. Be cautious and hesitant of what you sign- read all contracts and legal documents carefully; many of these permission slips and documents have a clause requiring the homeowner to employ said contractor upon an insurance settlement.

Feel free to contact your insurance company for contractor recommendations.  For example, Country Companies’ adjusters have a policy in place where they can recommend three contractors. State Farm has a preferred vendor list.  However, most insurance companies have additional policies in place to attempt to mitigate their liability to the homeowner in the event of the contractor not completing the work in a professional manner.  This is the exact moment where it becomes the homeowners responsibility to perform their due diligence.  The majority of insurance companies nationally place a one-year timeframe upon the initiation of a claim from a storm.  This being said, unless there is imminent damage, most homeowners have time to initiate an insurance claim.

The following are a list of bullet points on ways to perform said diligence:

-Run “construction storm chasers” through whatever Internet Search Engine you use.

-If a salesman comes to your door, do not sign anything.  Please take time to review the estimate and the contractor.

-Inquire as to where the company is physically located and the length of time in that location.

-If it is an out of town contractor, inquire what type of service after the sale will you get.  Is the contractor willing to drive, in some cases, hundreds of miles to return for service?  Please get this portion in writing.

-Please demand copies of both Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Insurance.

-Ask to see required state permits and licenses. Both contractors and insurance adjusters have to be licensed by state agencies.

-Inquire if the company has employees performing the work or will it be subcontracted out.  If it is subcontracted out, demand copies of the Subcontractors Insurance as well.  Ask to meet the Subcontractor that will be working on your home prior to work being started.

Please utilize the above questions.  There are many other tools available for a homeowner to use.  Such as, Internet reviews, local business associations and reviews, BBB, and referrals.  We urge you to use these resources to determine the caliber of your potential contractor.

First Roof Of The Season

Our guys have been anxious to get back to roofing after this long, hard winter.  When your house is having the roof replaced make sure your contractors don’t skip on the safety of themselves and your property! All workers should be wearing a harness and for certain grades of steepness toe bars should be installed. Windows in the concentrated area of working should be covered with boards to prevent and scratches or broken windows.  For added assurance, have your contractor list you as an additional insured. Before and after pictures soon to come!

Protect windows with boards
Protect windows with boardsIMG_2992

A tarp makes the majority of clean-up easier
A tarp makes the majority of clean-up easier