As you might already know, I act as the general contractor for all of our renovation projects, while Andy is always on-site working as our project manager. When I started renovating houses, I knew I was going to get my hands dirty, and I had no problem with that. I also knew that I was going to be doing a lot of delegating, since I didn’t know how to do more than a few of the jobs we were going to need—like rewiring a house or hanging drywall.
Of course, I expected to learn a lot about construction, and I definitely have. There are a few things along the way that have really surprised me, though. When I first started as a general contractor for our projects, I never thought I’d find myself doing any of these things.
Mediating Between Conflicting Parties
Keeping jobs organized is one thing. Stopping a fight between a neighbor and a plumber is another! It usually doesn’t get quite that dramatic, but when I have a few different subcontractors on the site, along with inspectors, neighbors, and anyone else who thinks they have a say in the matter, I’ve learned to be really diplomatic.
Never underestimate your general contractor’s ability to deescalate and solve issues to move on and get the job done. I’ve had to learn how to do this over the past few years, and it can be a real challenge. At the end of the day, though, settling arguments with my kids has never been easier!
Translating One Kind of Jargon into Another
Everyone who works on a home renovation project seems to speak a different language, and I’m not talking about English, Spanish, French, or German. I’m talking about architects, designers, carpenters, inspectors, plumbers, masons, and electricians. They all have their own languages, and as a general contractor, I’ve had to learn a little bit of all of them so that I can communicate with them and help them communicate with each other for a smoother and more efficient job.
Becoming multilingual in professional and trade jargon has also helped me a lot in negotiating for better prices on materials, finding the best subcontractors to work with, and getting better and more accurate estimates on work.
Finding Money When We’re Over Budget
Okay, so I probably could’ve predicted this one if I’d thought ahead. It seems like every renovation goes over budget at one point or another, but it’s not usually your general contractor’s job to find the finances to take care of this problem. I guess that’s what I get for being an investor and a contractor, right?
The great thing about being our general contractor, though, is that I have my eyes on all parts of the renovation. I can see where we’re under budget, where we’re over budget, and where we can squeeze out some more cash to make it all work. Being in the middle of all of this has really helped me get a better idea of what our renovations will cost us from the start without all the trial and error we used to go through.
So, should you be your own general contractor for your next renovation project? It’s a lot of work, but I’ve found it’s really rewarding. And, when you have a project manager as great as Andy working by your side, it’s a great job to have. I can’t tell you whether or not you’ll like it, but it’s definitely helped me learn a lot about the whole renovation process and how to improve our home renovations business along the way.