+ What is a “General Contractor”?
A General Contractor is the prime contractor who is responsible for most of the work at the construction site, including that performed by the trade partners. The General Contractor oversees all work while verifying that it is installed as detailed on the drawings, defined by the building codes, and are within industry standards.
+ How does a General Contractor prepare his estimate?
In order to successfully prepare a well thought out estimate of services, it is important for the General Contractor to know what the Client’s “investment amount” is prior to. This investment amount is also referred to as a budget. By having a firm understanding on this amount, he can create an estimate of services that is attainable for the Client while staying within the Client’s investment scope. It is also useful to understand what the Client’s level of “grievance” is for requesting the work to be done. In other words, what is driving the Client to want to this done? For example, is this a retrofit to refresh and update the existing home? Is this a refurbishment, renovation, and/or remodeling project to improve and transform the existing home above and beyond its initial condition? Some Clients are looking for an idea of the costs associated with a renovation/development for future consideration. In other instances, this has become a necessity based on a change in their circumstances where more room is required. By better understanding your needs, the General Contractor can work with you to provide the best solutions, while keeping a realistic approach.
+ Why do General Contractors have different pricing?
Every business has overhead associated with their company. Some Clients believe that the larger the company, the more overhead there is therefore costs must be more. This is not necessarily true. Yes, a larger company will have more overhead, but they should also have more employees to take on more projects, meaning the pricing is still relative. Varying margins are a factor, although General Contractors who have been doing this for a long time should know the true costs, and their experience is worth more. Those who have only been doing this a few years may be still trying to figure out these costs as they go. Inexperience comes with a smaller fee. Another consideration is if the General Contracting company is incorporated or is he acting as a sole proprietor? There is more overhead associated with an incorporated company verses a sole proprietorship. However with that said, it is useful for Client’s to know that every General Contractor must have specific insurances and documentation in place to protect each Client and their project: WCB for all workers in case of injury; Liability insurance; A government issued license to accept retainers, including a Surety Bond to guarantee workmanship or alternatively, they can be a member of the Alberta New Home Warranty Program. Being a member of the Better Business Bureau is also an added comfort to the Client, but not a requirement. If there is ever a question of why one General Contractor is lower than another General Contractor, be sure to ask, and request copies of these particular documents for your own protection.
+ When will the project be completed?
From the moment you decide to renovate, a common question is, “When will the project be done?” We provide our Clients with an estimated time for completion, although there are many factors that can come into play: Unforeseen circumstances (such as weather delays or concealed conditions) may add time to the overall schedule; Delays in Client selections, or significant Client generated additions or deletions to the project scope made during the renovation; An Industry boom can cause scheduling delays with all the trade partners already booked months in advance; Or, if the project carries over a major holiday such as Christmas, this can contribute to an extended time frame. We will do everything that we can to ensure a reasonable timeline by updating the Client of any and all issues that affect this.
+ Can I make changes during my renovation/development?
Yes, in most instances, you can make changes during your renovation. During the renovation we will discuss timelines with you and indicate what decisions need to be made and when. In order to ensure the project’s success, you need to make decisions ahead of time so this will not delay the overall scheduling including all the subsequent trade partners. With that said, we will assist you in making timely decisions. It is important to understand that certain selections may take time to order. New Windows and doors most often fit into this category taking 4-6 weeks. However, should you change your mind on an existing selection once all your selections have been made and processed, there are also adverse affects to keep in mind. For example, if you have reselected a tile that has now become a special order tile that takes 4 – 6 weeks, this will affect the project scheduling and time lines creating a snowball effect. Further, most suppliers charge a minimum 25% restocking fee if the product has already been acquired. Any changes made during the renovation that are not included in the original contract, will be documented on a Change Order form including the cost of the change, for your signed authorization prior to the work being done, or the product ordered.
+ Can I do some of the work on my own?
Generally we discourage our Client from managing and/or doing some of the work on their own. The reason you hire a General Contractor is to: Manage the project in its entirety; Take care of all the scheduling of trade partners while knowing the timelines and stages of work; Manage the budget and your expectations. Most often the Client will know someone who is capable of doing one particular area of work. However timelines always become an issue in doing this, including liability issues and so forth. As a General Contractor, we have longstanding relationships with all of our trade partners and suppliers and as such, we trust their products, reliability, workmanship, and dedication for customer satisfaction. It’s best to leave this to the professionals. There are numerous benefits of having a General Contractor such as guaranteed workmanship, warranty, contractor discounts in pricing, and most importantly scheduling and peace of mind.
+ What if I only want Interior Finishing Services?
Please visit our Prism Interiors Ltd. website at www.prisminteriors.ca to review our extensive finishing and specialty millwork services. We’d be happy to discuss your interior finishing requirements with you in more detail.