Hiring a general contractor for a new home, basement finish or bathroom remodel is highly recommended by any local building department as well as any bank or financial advisor you may be using. This is pretty well understood, however, what is not as well understood is the vital role he/she will play throughout your project and why picking the highest rated General Contractor is CRITICAL.
To dig into this further we need to understand what a General Contractor is. By definition, a general contractor is a manager, and possibly a tradesman, employed by the client on the advice of the architect, engineer or the client him/herself if acting as the manager. A general contractor is responsible for the overall coordination of a project. Now that we know “what” a general contractor is, lets understand what they will be responsible for and why it is essential to know and trust whomever you are hiring. A general contractor is responsible first and foremost to you, the owner, and to the building department for the completion of any and all permits/inspections. As such the general contractor is responsible to facilitate and coordinate the completion of all related tasks/sub contracts set forth by the building department and in accordance with the “code” for the completion of the permit and all inspections within the allotted period of time given. This is pretty well understood, here is what you may not be aware of. Did you know that the building department does not inspect the quality of the workmanship or the quality of the materials being used? Why is that important…you may ask? Well if the building department isn’t inspecting the quality of the job that was done nor the quality of the materials being used…what are they inspecting, and who does inspect for those things?
The building departments role in the permit process is simple – inspect the work performed to be in accordance with the code as laid out in the guidelines under the permit. Let me give you an example…framing by code CAN be up to 24″ O.C. (On Center) and that is all that is required. We all know that 16″ O.C. is more beneficial and of a higher quality construction, however it is not required by code. Also the quality of the lumber being used is not a requirement. An example of this is Douglas fir vs. Hem fir lumber. Douglas fir will have far fewer knots in the wood and will generally be straighter when framing than hem fir and most Douglas fir you purchased will be stored indoors or very well protected from the weather. However, most builders use Hem fir because it is a lot cheaper and is not something a homeowner will notice or care about…that is until later on when they see how wavy and out of square they are over time. My point is that these items are not inspected by the building department and are only going to be addressed by the General Contractor. Every item under the permit has examples to go along with this, HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Tile, Etc. Every one of these items are only given guidelines to stay within to satisfy the permit, quality of the work performed and quality of the materials is not something inspected unless it is in violation of the code and needs to be altered or repaired to meet that specific code requirement.
KNOW YOUR CONTRACTOR not just the company he/she is working for! It is absolutely critical to know the principles and ethics your general contractor operates under. Furthermore, it is equally important to know the level of quality that your general contractor is known for through reviews, etc. Your general contractor will be the only individual on the project that will have the means and authority to dictate to the sub contractors to do the job right, correct mistakes made, use the proper quality materials and ensure that quality is maintained throughout the project. Most general contractors in town are very lazy…they simply call the sub contractors and ask how things are going without ever stepping foot on the job, unless to walk the job with you, the owner, and put in “face time” as we call it. It is imperative that you hire a contractor that will be there during EVERY step of the process, going through the hurdles with the subcontractors to ensure a high level of understanding is present when critical decisions are being made and the “authority” is there to make sure no one is over stepping their bounds or providing inadequate fixes to the problem that no one would catch. Let me give you an example. We were building a custom home for a client whom hired another contractor to handle the beginning erection of the foundation and “rough” construction inside which we would then take over all of the interior finishes so the homeowner knew the quality was in the finish work. During the rough construction phase, the HVAC was improperly installed and instead of fixing the problem properly, the general contractor shrugged it off saying “thats not something the building department would ever catch, so what do I care!” Leaving the mistake for our company to fix during the finish stages of the project, which we absolutely did knowing it was wrong.
Everlasting Homes is dedicated to ensuring the highest quality workmanship and materials are used throughout the project and that is why we are brought along side many homeowners today to inspect and finish what some builders just could not. We will design everything with you in person at our design centers, we will walk the project with you weekly so that you are aware of every aspect of the project and answer all of your questions as they come up. If you are looking for a Custom Home, ask us about our custom home program. We partner with a very well respected builder in town that will erect the structure for us and we will finish all of the interior for you at a very reasonable price but maintain our companies highly awarded quality. If you are looking for a custom or simple basement finish, we invite you to try us out. We offer FREE plans and design consultations and have won every major award in Southern Colorado for our basement finish work. We promise that we will help you in any way that we can, even if that means referring you to someone else in the event we do not do the work you are wanting.
Thanks for reading,