Who you gonna call?

Don’t deny it, those words bring to mind the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man indulgences of actor Dan Aykroyd and the ectoplasm scraping Bill Murray emerging from a white 1959 Caddy Miller-Meteor. So heroic, weren’t they? Risking their lives to save New York City from hostile ghosts.  And there was no question Ghostbusters were the right guys for the job!


In the world of home construction, home improvement and renovation, it’s not always so obvious who to call.


Do you need a General Contractor? A handyman/handywoman?


The most important question to ask when you are looking for a home renovation/home improvement professional is:


Will more than one trade be needed to complete the job?


Projects for a General Contractor (GC) include:


1. Renovating a kitchen.

2. Remodeling a bathroom.

3. Finishing or renovating a basement.

4. An addition.


Projects that don’t require a General Contractor include:


1. Installing flooring and baseboards.

2. Repainting your home.

3. Building a fence or a deck.

4. New windows installed.

5. Replacing your roof.


Before you pick up the phone, determine the scope of your project. Will your job require the handy work and knowledge of an electrician, a drywaller, and a plumber? Or do you need just one of the above?


A GC takes care of onsite and offsite project management. They charge a service fee to schedule and coordinate trades, apply to your municipality for permitting, order and coordinate material and product delivery, make sure the renovation process stays on time and on budget, among many things.


A handywoman/handyman is more likely to work alone, or with a couple of helpers. They come onsite to get one job done, such as floor installation, and are not working alongside another trade.


In a bathroom renovation, on the other hand, you are making improvements to a mechanical room—meaning, it’s likely you will need a plumber, electrician, interior designer, drywaller, tile setter, and finishing carpenter onsite at some point during the project.


If you do decide to hire a GC to install flooring and baseboards, you are paying service fees that you don’t need to pay. Also, keep in mind most GCs won’t install materials they haven’t supplied because they cannot warranty them. If your floor should open up and swallow a family member, or start oozing green goo a year after installation, for example, it’s hard to know where the issue originated—with the product? or with the installation? And impossible to know who should warranty the product and work.  


If you are uncertain of who you’re gonna call, don’t be afraid to call us and ask!


Extra Tips for Hiring your General Contractor


If you are out to hire a GC, consider checking up on the following before you sign a contract:


1. Have you done this kind of work before?

2. What professional organizations are you members of? CHBA? BBB?

3. How often is a project manager on site?

4. Visit their website to check out portfolio—Do they showcase photos during the renovation process, or just professional photos of the complete project?