The Two Biggest Challenges In Hiring a General Contractor
Planning to renovate your apartment? Find out the top two challenges in hiring general contractors and why a design-build firm may be a better option!
If an apartment renovation is on the horizon for you, you may be considering who to hire for your project, from a general contractor to a design-build firm or even an architect. The biggest difference between these roles is what falls within the scope of the project. When it comes to a general contractor, there are certain potential challenges you should be aware of when determining who to work with for your apartment renovation.
First of all, what do we mean by general contractor? Typically, a contractor works directly with the homeowner and their bids only include the cost of labor and raw materials and sometimes finishes. The contractor handles obtaining raw materials and executing the physical tasks, but the homeowner (or someone else hired to do the job) is responsible for providing a design plan and overall project management, as well as sometimes selecting and procuring finishes.
Potential General Contractor Challenge #1: Option Overload
You could speak to four different general contractors and get four completely different answers, then go into a tailspin figuring out which one is right, from any topic, from pricing to approach. Not only does information exist in different silos, but add to this the spiraling effects that COVID continues to have on all industries and the result is a widening gulf between desires and capabilities. A good general contractor or design-firm will be upfront about lead times, both reasonable and realistic. The best thing you can do is research and interview as much as possible, asking questions and learning about the contractors and firms and how they approach projects.
From within the industry, we’ve also noticed a spike in commercial contractors pivoting to apartment renovations due to COVID shutting down so many commercial spaces. Changes and large-scale reopenings are on the horizon and even here in some places, but it still remains to be seen when commercial work will pick back up at the rate it once had or when the industry in general will stabilize. The important takeaway for anyone contemplating an apartment renovation in a city building is that a firm with mainly commercial experience may not be the best match for handling the rules and regulations of co-op buildings or other residential concerns.
Potential General Contractor Challenge #2: Lack of Clarity With Scope
Perhaps even more of a challenge than option overload is getting a firm understanding of what is and is not in the scope of a general contractor. Construction has so many moving parts; unless someone has experienced home renovation projects in the past, it’s difficult to intuitively understand what is and isn't included, a huge deal when it comes to building a budget.
In a large-scale construction project, there’s carpentry, mechanical, electric, plumbing, and finishes and fixtures. When hiring a general contractor, how much of those elements will be included? It’s sure to vary from contractor to contractor. Will the cost truly be inclusive of everything that your project will entail? Differences in how a general contractor or firm will approach these questions is why pricing varies significantly. Ultimately, a thorough interview and conversations with your potential contractor or design-build firm will be very clarifying in determining scope, managing expectations, and ultimately deciding what type of firm can best handle your project.
Resources for How to Choose a General Contractor
In addition to the two biggest potential challenges, you may find some more helpful information in this curated collection of related blogs from our series about contractor considerations:
Here’s one: you probably don’t need an architect, especially if you’re not making any huge structural changes.
A survey found that 69% of homeowners cited poor general contractor performance as a reason for the failure of their projects. Yikes!
Can you remodel a kitchen in just 20 minutes? How much do bathroom renovations actually cost? Our CEO Aaron Popowsky shared some thoughts on these questions and more.
If you’re searching for a general contractor to hire for your apartment renovation, you might find that a design-build firm like Gallery, which handles every aspect of a project from start to finish, is better suited for your needs. If a New York apartment renovation is in your future, contact us at your convenience for a free consultation.