Should I hire general contractor for basement renovation?

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Posted by: from Toronto
1/12/2017 at 1:27:30 AM

I am planning to renovate my basement in two months, wondering if I should hire a general contractor to take care of everything for me, or maybe I can hire different contractors for different part, e.g. electrician, plumber..etc.. Will it be cheaper to hire different contractor directly? If yes, I am trying to get an idea how much I can roughly save by doing that.

Thanks a lot.

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 10:11:28 AM

Yes you should have a contractors because you don't want other tread to point finger to each other.

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 10:14:31 AM

Hi Jeff,

Hiring a general or someone to take on the whole project may cost you a little more. However they are the one taking accountability for your project in completing tasks to code and your expectation.

Hiring each individual trade takes more time on your part having to go out and different quotes from all the various trades and if the individual you hire doesn't do it to code or to satisfaction than you are paying twice to have the work done correctly.

Sometime by trying to save, you pay more.

Kind Regards

Scott Lawson

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 10:15:12 AM

If you don't have extensive experience I would strongly advise hiring a contractor to do all. He will have more control on sub trades etc.

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 10:59:26 AM

Hi Jeff,

Yes, you can save if you hire the contractors individually . First you should get three detailed Estimates from good Carpenter/Contractors ( TrustPros or BBB.) They must be told the same idea you have in mind. You supply, toilet, taps, ceramic tile if required and lights. tell them you have the Electrician & Plumber ready when required. After you have met with these contractors , you should have a pretty good idea on exactly what you want and where walls go. Then do the same thing with Electricians & Plumbers and if you must alter

your heating ducts as required & the Carpenter cannot do it ,you must call a Mechanical/Heating Co. If you do not have time for this, then yes a general will take care of all this.

Good Luck (Do your Homework)

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Dave from Crown Choice in Nanaimo
Date/Time1/12/2017 at 11:03:22 AM

Hiring a general contractor is most often the best choice for some who would need to ask this question. It can be very difficult to get the trades you need when you need them. Even if you were to hire the different trades you could wind up paying more for each trade as each trade could be charging a hire rate than they would charge a general who has more work for them.

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 11:13:07 AM


All the replies are right, but one thing to consider, if you are the general, any trades get hurt on your project, you assume the responsibility unless they are WSIB compliant.

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Robert from Accent Interieur in Val David
Date/Time1/12/2017 at 11:42:27 AM

Hi Jeff,

There is no easy answer. How much do you know about construction? How much research are you willing to put into it so as not to get screwed? Maybe if you can get a referral of a trusted contractor you would be better off. People often think they can save money doing it themselves and in the long run end up costing themselves more just do to not knowing certain details, such as the order things have to happen in, or what you should expect of a hired trade, or if they might be leading you down the garden path.

Good luck!

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 1:46:44 PM


Thank you for posting your renovation question on Trusted Pros website. It is an excellent question and is asked often by customers.

There are pros and cons to hiring a general contractor for oversight of your renovation projects and it is not just concerning cost. If you hire a reputable general contractor, chances are s/he will be partnering with reputable subcontractors. The expertise and experience of your general contractor will cost you; it's only fair. They oversee the whole project and are often the first ones to be praised or scorned for the work completed.

A general contractor who has a good long-term relationships with their subcontractors, may be able to negotiate the cost and save you money that you would have had to pay IF you hired these same subcontractors on your own.

On the other hand, our experience has shown that customers who have chosen to use a general contractor that is not necessarily well-known or reputable in an attempt to cut cost are setting themselves up for disappointment and possibly disaster.

Whether you use a general contractor or not, we highly recommend that you thoroughly investigate all the companies and professionals that you are considering. If you hire a general contractor, don't assume that you will feel equally comfortable with the subcontractors s/he partners with. Consider asking your general contractor which companies he uses for sub-trades and do a background check on them too.

Lastly, there is a third option you may not have considered. Some customers hire both a general contractor and a couple tradesmen/women of their own choosing. They negotiate with the general contractor both their price and the responsibilities they will have. If you choose to go in this direction, be prepared to take on a more of the responsibility for the project.

At the very least, you need to ensure that your general contractor respects your decision to hire your own tradesmen/woman and that they are committed to diligently work with them.

If cost is a primary motivating factor for you, then know that you likely can save funds by becoming your own general contractor. However, you will need to be comfortable having a few more conversations and possibly learn some basic timelines for construction. Some subcontractors should be able to help you out a little with the learning curve but ultimately you are in charge and they are accountable to you.

Given the busy season of construction these days, especially in the GTA, you may also need to patiently encourage those working for you to keep on the timeline. If one subcontractor is lagging behind, you and the other subcontractors are prone to be negatively affected. The other subcontractors will likely have tight schedules to adhere to. In the electrical field, we also have the availability of the Electrical Safety Authority inspector to take into consideration.

You asked to get a rough idea of how much you could save by becoming your own general contractor. This is also a good question but not one that can be easily answered. Best way to find out is to arranged for a few professionals to put together some free quotes. Then you will be informed enough to compare, do the math, and go from there.

This advice is by no means exhaustive. However we hope it will aid your exploration on this topic.

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Date/Time1/12/2017 at 7:08:01 PM

By reading all the comments on this site,they would confuse even me, and I'm gen.contractor. You can't never benefit by acting as a contractor,You are opening your self to all kinds of problems and on the end it's going to cost You more money and mess that You can't imagine.This is worst industry ever,if You rob the bank for $5,000.00 You will end up behind bars for 10 years and this industry for something like that You get awarded.Now You can reach Your conclusion what to do.

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Date/Time1/13/2017 at 10:19:40 PM


Hiring a General Contractor should be cheaper as long a busy GC hires their own trades guys (plumber, electrician, carpenters). If he does not have his own people he should save you money by negotiating with sub-contactors and suppliers. GCs know what subs to hire and they have a working relationship with them for many years. Also hiring a reliable company will eliminate stress and save time.

I would recommend you to make calls and compare quotes!

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Jeff in Toronto
Date/Time1/14/2017 at 12:31:06 AM

Thanks a lot guys. After reading all the replies, I decide to hire a general contractor since I don't really have lots of time on this, I think I do need someone to help me to manage the project.

Thanks again. You guys are really helpful!

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Date/Time1/15/2017 at 12:44:14 AM

Hey Jeff,

This is a great question, and the answer depends on your personality and timeline.

So lets say your projected cost is $30,000 and you can save $3,000 selecting individual contractors.

You get a few different quotes from each trade and have everything lined up and going smoothly. All the sudden your electrician cant perform the work for whatever reason. You dont have close connections with other electrical contractors and are now forced to delay all other trades by 3-4 weeks while you find another company to do the work. Your project is delayed and some of these other contractors are no longer be able to maintain schedule, your project is now at 8 weeks and still not finished. I could continue but I think you can understand my point.

The benefits of hiring a general contractor (gc) are not only timeline. You get to hold one company liable for any issues, you pay one deposit rather than 5 or 6, the gc will most definitely have discounts on all materials and have great cohesion with other subcontractors, among many other benefits.

In the end your project may cost a little more, but you will have it completed on schedule and within your budget.

I hope this helps.

Scott Ahonen

BIA Contracting Inc.

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Date/Time1/15/2017 at 10:34:01 PM

Much better to hire a general contractor, otherwise it might end up with higher cost.

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Date/Time2/21/2017 at 9:29:00 PM

The answer to your question is this: how much is your time worth? Please break down each scope of work and go and a get quote for it.

Now let me advise you, that my electrian gives me preferred rates,and preferred scheduling. As does my plumbing contractor. As does my drywall taper/mudder. Why? Because they get repeat business. I can say, with full assurance, if you go and get individual quotes for each scope of work, you will end up paying more. What you are missing is how all these trades link together, who is doing the scheduling, and who is assuming the responsibility and liabilty?

Trying to piece the job together yourself may look good on your excel spreadsheet, but when it comes to actually getting someone to come out and do the work, good luck. Good trades are busy, and so prioritize as such. They work with GCs who will give them repeat business.

I typically pass through the sub-trade costs with a markup-up of 10%. That accounts for the day I have to sit idle waiting for an ESA inspection, or the 3-5 days I am waiting for mud to dry.

Decide on a budget; if you want to nickel and dime at the outset, then chances are you can't afford the project you have in mind. Re-align your expectations, and listen to what feeedback you get.

Best of Success,


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