5 Things You Need to Know About General Contractors

Category: First Time Buyer,

A general contractor can renovate your home, increasing its value while also making it a better place to live. But what is a general contractor exactly? How do they operate? We answer five common questions in order to ensure that your home improvements go smoothly. 

What is a General Contractor? 

What’s the difference between a general contractor and a tradesperson or sub-trade? In a word, scope. A general contractor oversees your project from beginning to end, handling responsibility, overseeing design, procuring materials, taking on liability, and dividing up the work. Sub-trades, on the other hand, are brought in to perform a specific task such as electrical work or floor installation. A general contractor will often utilize various sub-trades throughout the project. 

“The general contractor is your greatest advocate in your renovation,” explains general contractor Cam Holden of Construct by Nuthatch. “They’re in charge of both their own employees and the sub-trades so they play the biggest part in bringing your vision to light.” 

Do I Need a General Contractor? 

Some jobs are best left to a general contractor while others can be tackled by a sub-trade, or even done by the homeowner themselves. The size and scope of the project will be a major factor in this decision

Some general contractors are happy to do smaller projects in the $5-10K range, while others work exclusively on larger projects. The best way to find out if a general contractor believes they’re a fit for your project is to ask! 

What Renovation Projects are Most Popular? 

Kitchen and bathroom renovations are most popular, but bedroom improvements are very common as well. As more people work remotely, home offices are growing in popularity, with basements or even closets being converted to work areas. Decks and other outdoor projects can also increase curb appeal and, thus, the value of a home. 

In addition to being a general contractor, Holden is also a real estate agent, providing him a unique perspective. 

According to Holden, the two groups who most frequently undertake renovations are those who are preparing to sell homes and those who have just bought. 

“Typically, when someone’s about to list, they’ll want to do the low hanging fruit projects such as painting, upgrading fixtures, changing out doors, and repainting cabinets,” he says. “These are easy projects that can increase value and help you sell your home.” 

Those who are moving in are more apt to tackle big projects such as room remodels, extensions, and layout redesigns. 

Those planning to sell will often get good ROI for the smaller cosmetic touch ups. Larger renovations will increase the value of the home, but not always by enough to cover the entire investment. Those who plan on staying in their homes for a lengthy period will get to enjoy living in their improved homes, and recoup much, if not all of their investment when they do eventually sell. 

How Can I Help My Contractor? 

From a contractor’s perspective, not all clients are created equally. According to Holden it comes down to communication, planning, and trust. 

“We really like it when clients communicate with us,” he says. “Having an open conversation throughout the project leads to a better result.” 

Before a general contractor can fulfill a client’s vision, they must first understand it. Articulate conversations can be valuable, but a picture is worth a thousand words. 

“Pictures, drawings, even doodles and sketches on a napkin or piece of paper can help,” says Holden. “We really like it when clients give us their full dedication to the plan.” 

Sometimes, of course, clients will improvise throughout the course of the project when inspiration strikes. According to Holden this is not unexpected.

“Changing your mind is fine,” he explains, “but it might push the job timing out  a little bit and incur a few extra costs.” 

Are Home Renovation Grants Available? 

Does all of this sound expensive? The good news is that certain home renovations are subsidized by government organizations.

“There’s tons of grants that BC Hydro, FortisBC, and CleanBC are giving to homeowners when they do renovations,” reports Holden. 

$50 per opening is available to homeowners replacing windows and doors. Fortis also gives money to those upgrading their insulation. 

Holden cites a project he’s currently involved in where a heat pump system is being installed on a home in North Vancouver. The federal government is contributing $5K to the project, while the municipality offers an $8K rebate, for a total of $13K in deductions on a $15K project. 

“It almost pays for itself,” he says. 

Pinsky Mortgages believes that educated decisions are good decisions. Since no two homebuyers are the same, we offer free consultations that allow us to understand your unique situation. Contact Pinsky Mortgages today and help us help you get the mortgage that best suits your needs. 

Cited Sources
Personal Communications with Cam Holden

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