Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
It’s tempting to do a home improvement project yourself instead of hiring a professional because you think you can cut some of your expenses. But is it worth all the effort? Or will it ultimately be cheaper to hire a contractor?
Hiring a contractor in terms of time and money is cheaper because contractors have the expertise and professional ties to reduce your costs. Moreover, you bear much less risk and avoid repetition as contractors must comply with safety codes and technical best practices.
Read on to learn more about the advantages of hiring a contractor rather than taking a DIY approach. We’ll also cover what you should consider when hiring a contractor.
Why Is It Cheaper To Hire a Contractor?
A general contractor typically adds a 20 to 30 percent markup for their services. The amount is so tempting that you may think you can save it by doing the work yourself. But that’s only true in theory.
Here’s why you should hire a contractor rather than go the DIY route.
A Contractor Has the Knowledge
Renovating a part of your house, like the kitchen or bathroom, is not as easy as you may think. There are so many things to consider before and during the project, but since you’re not the expert, chances are you’ll ignore at least a few of them.
First, you need good knowledge of safety requirements and technical processes like plumbing or wiring. Otherwise, you may end up cutting electrical wires or ruining the pipes. You may also create hazards or be forced to do it all again due to faulty construction.
You have to be familiar with the different types of material as well. For example, a bathroom needs waterproof materials and proper insulation, or you’ll have a mess on your hands soon!
Contractors are familiar with all these details. They know the ins and outs of a project and prioritize safety above all else.
A Contractor Has Access to Skilled Workers and Equipment
Home renovation equipment isn’t limited to basic tools such as extension cords, adjustable wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, and pliers. You may also need demolition tools like Sawzallss, crowbars, and sledgehammers.
Power tools are another necessity, including electric nailers, drails, jigsaw, and sander. Lifting equipment is also necessary for heavy items because a simple ladder won’t be enough.
Buying or renting all these tools and equipment might cost you a lot, but a contractor already has them.
A Contractor Saves Your Time and Budget
Time is money, period. You can’t spend all your time overseeing the workflow, organizing people, and dealing with problems that pop up occasionally. A contractor gets paid to always be there and take care of everything.
Besides, they know where to purchase the necessary materials and have established relationships with suppliers and skilled workers. They know many different retailers and can find the best products based on your budget. So, ultimately, they’ll save you money.
A Contractor Knows All About Codes and Regulations
Experienced contractors are familiar with local and state laws and know what licenses you need for your renovation project. Plus, they can take care of the regulatory issues so that you don’t need to worry about being up to code.
General contractors usually work with licensed subcontractors like electricians, carpenters, and plumbers who you can trust.
A Contractor Gives You a Warranty
All contractors have to provide a warranty on their construction work for at least one year—in California, the period can be extended to 10 years.
If something goes wrong during this period, the contractor must redo the work or fix the issue. For example, if a leakage appears in your roof due to improper sealing by the contractor, you can call them and ask them to repair the leak as soon as possible without charging you again.
But if you do it yourself and things don’t turn out how you want, all your money and time will go to waste. Additionally, no one guarantees that you won’t make further mistakes and incur more losses!
How To Choose the Right Contractor To Reduce Costs
Despite all the benefits, the project may cost you much more than the initial estimates if you don’t hire a reliable, licensed contractor.
So, let’s look at what to consider when hiring the right contractor:
License – Before anything, ask for their up-to-date license and check them out. A license ensures the contractor is qualified and can perform the work properly, without risks or faults. Plus, you won’t risk being sued by your neighbors if something happens.
Experience – A contractor’s experience plays a crucial role in their performance. After dealing with real-world problems for many years, you’ll know what to expect from a project and how to tackle the difficulties.
Ask if they’ve worked on projects similar to yours, and even visit their former clients to find out how well they managed the work.
Background – You should also check the contractor’s background to see whether they have a history of misconduct. In case of an existing violation, the records should be available at the Better Business Bureau or the local court.
Formal Bid or Estimate – Ask for formal bids or estimate the project’s costs before signing anything. This way, you can compare different contractors and narrow down your options. Besides, you’ll gain a holistic view of future costs and will better manage your budget.
Insurance and Permits – It’s wise to find out about your state and city permits and discuss them with your contractor. Ensure no laws are violated so that you’ll have nothing to worry about if you get a surprise inspection.
Also, ensure they have an active liability insurance policy for potential damages to the property and workers.
Sign a Contract – Writing everything you have discussed and agreed upon in the form of a contract makes it formal. Include all the details, including the estimated costs, responsibilities, timeline, and materials. Also, include how you’ll resolve disputes.
When renovating your home, time, money, quality, and safety are four essential factors. And a contractor is the only person who can manage them all simultaneously.
Given their expertise and professional ties, working with a contractor will be cheaper, less risky, and less time-consuming than DIY work in the long run. But you need to choose the right contractor to get the best results.
- Washington Post: Think you can save by being your own general contractor? Not so fast. Your inexperience could cost you.
- Ygrene: 10 Tips to Finding a Reliable Home Renovation Contractor
- Schorr-law: Why It Is Important to Hire Licensed Contractors
- Sunshine Contracting Corp: Five Simple Reasons You Should Hire a Home Contractor Instead of Doing It Yourself
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