In our existing Calgary economy, many homeowners are choosing to be their own general contractor for home renovation projects, and this is completely understandable based on the need to be cost effective. The problem lies when homeowners do not have a full understanding of all the construction codes, requirements, costs and moreover, the snowball effect that often occurs when starting what can appear to be, a ‘small’ project.
We have been in the construction industry for over 30 years and every now and again, we come across clients who want to engage our services for only a portion of the work. We’re happy to work with clients in whatever capacity they need us for, however in some particular instances wherein the client was acting as the general contractor, it was pretty clear that they were in unchartered territory.
On a recent project, the overview was that the clients purchased a home to renovate and they chose to install all new windows. The windows they wanted would be much larger than the pre-existing windows in the home, and they proceeded to purchase all new windows from a supplier. Since the new windows were substantially larger, they needed someone to remove all the existing windows throughout the home, cut back the existing stucco around the windows at the exterior, reframe all the new window openings, and I will mention that some window openings had to be structurally engineered given that the sizing was substantially greater. (It is also important to note that when you increase a window size, the City of Calgary requires this to be permitted which also means drawing and elevation requirements to show the existing, the new changes, and the incorporation of structural engineering where applicable). Now keeping with this train of thought, lets jump back to the interior. All the existing window trim had to be removed, the drywall cut, and the vapour barrier and insulation moved out of the way in order for the new framing to be done.
The clients came to us after they ordered the windows and once we provided them with our estimate, we were engaged for the drawings, engineering, permitting, and framing work. (We had advised the clients that they would have drywall, vapour barrier/insulation repairs, paint touch ups and stucco repairs at their exterior after our work was completed). However for that remaining work, the client also wanted to hire out these scopes and unfortunately, pricing was not attained for these areas either. To add insult to injury without having a familiarity in construction, they had also decided to repaint the exterior stucco of the house before any of this new work had started.
No one wants to find themselves in a situation such as this and I urge all homeowners to first weigh your costs versus benefit. Ask yourself this one important question – Do I have enough of a legitimate understanding in residential construction in order to GC my own project successfully? If you feel the answer is yes, and before committing to a large purchase, it is paramount to acquire all necessary quotes for each scope of work to be done. Clients need to fully understand the extent of their financial commitment.
Bottom line, and when in doubt about what you are getting yourself into, hire a general contractor/builder. We will walk you through each step of the process, provide you with complete pricing, coordinate all trade partners, and it will be money well spent. Whether you are considering an exterior home renovation, addition, new home build, or the like, give TriLink Builders a call and let’s have a conversation!