How Can a General Contractor Help You for Your Home Improvement Project?

Often times, it can be stressful to construct a home or a commercial building. It is a very daunting task. Professional service providers ensure the safety of the entire construction procedure when residential and commercial properties are being built. This is where seeking guidance from a general contractor comes in. A lot of business managers will definitely feel the load go off their shoulders as they seek help from these professional companies that can help them boost the aesthetics of their buildings.

Leading a pool of workers for a big construction job is definitely tough. Supervising and managing the entire thing needs a lot of time and effort. Not to mention, it needs to be run by someone with complete knowledge about the project; someone who can commit and find the perfect subordinates to respond to concerns and problems depending on the style and preferences of their clients.

One of the major responsibilities of a general contractor is to pay attention to the littlest details in connection with the construction whether it is commercial or residential. He needs to supervise every procedure and make sure that everyone’s working their best to attain efficiency and finish the job on time. A general contractor must hire people who are highly skilled, professional and experienced in order to come up with precise structure and magnificent set of designs.

Commercial service providers, though different from the general contractor, provides the manual labor and equipment necessary for the project. Services such as redesigning some aspects of the house employing concrete designs, carpentry and masonry are things that a general contractor should work out, if his client says so. So if you want these things in your home or commercial establishment, you can ask your professional service provider to do it for you.

Aside from these, you will never get stressed due to the project. You will have more time for other factors in your business that needs immediate attention. Just inform them of your desired outcome and they’ll do the rest for you. You can also save time and money by hiring a company to acquire the workers for your building project. As they have access to wholesale materials and products, you will also save a lot of money if you hire their services.

If you happen to hire someone for your construction needs, it will definitely be a worthy undertaking so finding the top quality contractor would be the best challenge for you to slay right now.

They Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used to! Women Who Project Manage Their Home Construction

It’s well known that project managing the construction of a home will save you money – and give you more decision making control. What is less widely known is that many successful project managers are women – who have no construction experience whatsoever.

My company has been selling cedar homes for 18 years. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of home buyers. Their backgrounds and experiences are as varied as the houses they build. However, I’ve noticed that the women who elect to project manage the construction of their homes share similar characteristics that uniquely qualify them for the job.

What women lack in home construction knowledge, they more than make up for in natural curiosity and organizational skills – or as some prefer to say, “multi-tasking abilities.” Anita Legaspi and her husband Ray (neither of whom had construction experience) built a 3,600 sf custom cedar home near Lake Stevens, WA about 5 years ago. At the time, Anita was a stay-at-home mom who enjoyed sewing and Ray was employed at Boeing. They realized early on that “they could get more house for their money if they did it themselves.”

Of the pair, Anita had more time available to organize the project and research their options. She realized that her experience with soliciting items for school auctions would also be helpful in obtaining subcontractor bids for their home. “I wasn’t afraid to talk to people and ask questions. I had the ability to communicate on the phone,” commented Anita.

With the help of a timeline (outlining tasks and deadlines), Anita obtained bids and contracted out: the foundation, shell construction, electrical, plumbing, roofing and deck installation. Anita, Ray and their son Christian did much of the painting and finish work themselves.

Anita admits that the time spent building the home was difficult for their family. Ray and Anita chose to live onsite by utilizing their small trailer and a camper. She remembers the initial fun of “camping,” complete with bonfires (to burn up the stumps) and hot dog roasts. However, the summer fun dissipated when wet weather set in. Ray and Anita realized that their trailer was becoming more claustrophobic than cozy – and it wasn’t very well insulated..

Looking back on their house building days, Anita offers this advice: 

  • Decide what’s important to you. If you really want that special kitchen – go for it.
  • You can never go wrong with quality.
  • Develop a cost breakdown sheet to help you compare bids and expenses.
  • Big name companies don’t always offer the support you’ll need. You need to be able to communicate with a dealer, subcontractor, etc. You should feel like you can call them any time.

Nancy and Paul Davis knew that they wanted a cedar home for their mountain retreat near Cle Elum, WA. Neither Paul nor Nancy had bought property before and the whole process of developing the property and building a home was new to them.

In an effort to learn more about the process, Paul and Nancy attended a Log Home Seminar and also researched companies and products on the internet. According to Nancy, “The seminar was good for us. It brought up all the things we hadn’t thought about.”

Prior to staying home with their son Cory, Nancy had been a foundry supervisor and had also worked in a human resources department. She knew a few things about interviewing, hiring and managing people. She also knew that if she and Paul were to build the cabin themselves, “it could take years!” Their solution was to put Nancy at the helm and have her manage the construction of the cabin.

Paul and Nancy elected to undertake the finish work themselves, but hired separate subcontractors to handle the foundation, shell construction, electrical, plumbing and roofing. At one point, Nancy put together a work party with three girlfriends. Together they installed the wood flooring in the great room and kitchen. However, Nancy noted that this was done “only after we had dinner out on Friday night to discuss our approach – and of course, a great breakfast with lots of chit chat before we actually began.”

A low point for Nancy came when she was the only person onsite and “the cabinet people dumped all our kitchen cabinets right in the middle of our driveway.” It was up to Nancy to figure out how to get them all inside by herself. Nancy called for back up and said, “I had to be really assertive, which is totally out of my personality.”

Today, the Davis’ are very proud of their 2,300 sf cabin retreat. “We knew we could do it with the support of knowledgeable people in the industry.” Based on her recently acquired construction management skills, Nancy offers the following tips: 

  • Find your own system to stay organized. Nancy used a notebook divided into tasks, i.e. electrical, plumbing, and roofing, etc.
  • Network with other people within the construction community and seek their advice
  • It’s OK to be assertive – especially when you are trying to track down answers and make decisions.

“Everybody is blown away by how beautiful my home is,” says Diane Weibling who project managed the construction of her own 1,200 sf cedar home in North Bend, WA. For ten years, Diane, a family support worker for the Seattle public school system, read “how to build your own home” books at the North Bend library. The librarian finally told her she was going to have to stop reading and start building her own home. And that’s exactly what she did.

In addition to her library research, Diane attended open houses and talked with other homeowners. She says that the idea of project managing the construction her home evolved slowly. “I felt like if I wanted it done right, I’d have to do it myself.”

She obviously did a lot of things right. Her home has a panoramic view of Mt. Si – in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. People drive slowly past her home so that they can appreciate her unique setting and beautiful home.

Diane took time to look for bargains on cabinets and appliances for her new home. She said, “I got all my solid maple kitchen cabinets for $1,200. Someone had ordered these and never picked them up. I went to the Sears Outlet and checked out their scratch & dent models. I bought a fridge with a broken plastic handle that I easily replaced. I bought a demo wood stove at the fair and saved $600.”

Her project managing experience has taught her a few more things, including:

  • Try not to micromanage the subcontractors. It’ll drive you (and them) crazy.
  • Ask the builder how many projects they have under construction. It may mean they won’t have blocks of time to give to your project – and this could extend your timeline.
  • Ask for contractor prices

Each of these women brought unique skills to their home projects – none of which was a background in construction. What motivated them to manage their home construction? Certainly money was a factor. By project managing the construction of their own homes, each woman realized many thousands of dollars in savings. The savings could result in a lower mortgage payment – or it could mean having a larger home for less money – or both! In some cases, project managing is a way for the homeowner to maintain more control over all aspects of the home’s construction. 

Project managing home construction is not an option for everyone. The state of Washington allows homeowners to serve as their own general contractors (or project managers) – but not all states will permit this. Bear in mind also that not all banks will finance owner-built homes. Lastly, remember that when the plumber doesn’t show up on schedule, you’re responsible for keeping the project moving forward and on budget. Some subcontractors are aware that your home is a one-time project for them – whereas a contractor will be calling them for other jobs in the future. This may affect the quality and timeliness of their work which in turn may adversely affect your timeline and budget.

None of the women interviewed for this article had building background and none of them had ever project managed the construction of a home. However, all three women had a natural curiosity about the process and were willing to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. Certainly, the end result for each of these project managers is a beautiful home and many thousands of dollars saved. The most unexpected outcome has been a change within each woman. When asked, “What did you learn about yourself” all three women project managers responded, “I learned I can do anything I set my mind to.”

What Factors Affect Home Resale Value? Simple Home Improvements To Increase Your Home’s Value

It’s never too early to start thinking about selling your home, and many real estate experts say that the best time to start is before you even buy it. If you’re buying a new home, chances are you’re going to be selling it in five, ten, or twenty years from now. While reselling may be far from the top of your priority list, there are a few interesting facts to keep in mind. Some attractive features of your new home might turn out to be investments that don’t pay off when it comes time to sell, while other features that you overlook now could have a positive effect on your home’s value over time.

When looking for a new home, your top priority should still be your own needs and desires, but it can’t hurt to have “resale value” in the back of your mind. After all, a home is a huge purchase, and it can turn out to be a great investment.

All features of a home will essentially be built into the price. If you do your best to learn about the true value of these features, especially their effects on the value over many years, you will have a better idea of how much you should be paying initially.

Features that add to your home resale value

Good location
Real estate experts agree that a good location is the biggest factor in adding value to a home. The home should be in a growing community; close to freeways and commercial areas, but not so close that the neighborhood is too noisy or congested. It’s also a good idea to check city records for any proposed land use action that will affect the area. The neighborhood may look peaceful now, but the city could be planning on tearing down the green space to build a new freeway. Planned city action could drastically change the value of the house over time, positively or negatively.

Large kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. It’s a central location for gatherings, and it’s a room in which you spend a great deal of time. Large kitchens that are open, accessible, and adjacent to dining and family rooms will add substantially to your home resale value.

Three or four Bedrooms
Bedrooms provide room to spread out, secluded workspaces, or extra space for a growing family. As far as the home resale value is concerned, three or four bedrooms is ideal. If the house has five or more bedrooms, make sure they’re not inflating the price too much. You shouldn’t be paying much extra for more rooms, as they won’t add significantly to the resale value. Also, if the home has less than three rooms, your pool of buyers will be limited and you could have a harder time selling in the future.

2.5 Bathrooms
One bathroom in the master bedroom, one shared bathroom, and a half bathroom for guests is ideal. If the house has more than 2.5 bathrooms, make sure it’s not inflating the price, as more bathrooms will do little to increase the resale value. Two bathrooms is also an acceptable number, but any less than two will hurt the value of the home.

Large, rectangular lot
Most buyers are looking for a fair sized, rectangular, level lot. Small yards, odd shapes, or sloped lots will decrease the home resale value. There should be enough space in the front and back yards for a person to consider them accessible. Enough room for decorations or activities is a huge plus.

Closet space
A walk-in closet for the master bedroom is a very desirable feature. Aside from the master bedroom, a home should have enough closet space scattered throughout. A lack of closet space can alienate certain buyers, and depreciate the value of the home.

Two-Car garage
Depending on the location of the house, a two-car garage is most desirable. If the house is surrounded by other homes with larger garages, it might be best to consider a larger garage size to match. In general, two is the magic number. More or less could affect the home value in undesirable ways.

Hidden, main floor laundry room
A laundry room should be out of sight to avoid becoming an eyesore, and it should be located on the main floor of the house. An easily accessible laundry room can cut back on trips up and down stairs. Remember, even if an inconvenient laundry room isn’t an issue for you, it could be an issue for your potential buyers, and it could hurt the value your house.

House size vs. surrounding houses
The size of the house can either increase or decrease its value, depending on its location. If the house is a large luxury house surrounded by smaller homes, the surrounding houses will drag down the value over time. On the flip side, if the house is small or medium and it’s surrounded by larger homes, the value could increase over time. If you’re looking at a home, compare its value with the values of the surrounding homes, keeping size in mind.

Surprising Features that don’t add to home resale value

A view
While a pretty view is easy on the eyes, it doesn’t do much for the value of a house, and it could be costing you a lot of money. Compare the price of the house that has a view with another comparable house in the area that doesn’t have a view. Is the price inflated because of the view? Chances are, when it comes time to sell, you won’t be getting the extra money back from the sale.

Fancy landscaping
Unless you are thoroughly impressed with the fancy landscaping, don’t pay extra for it. Landscaping can be the sign of a hobby or investment made by the previous owner. If you can’t imagine yourself enjoying the landscaping in the future, let the seller know. If it doesn’t interest you and you’re not willing to invest the same amount of time and money as the previous owner, the landscaping will eventually deteriorate, and you won’t get your money’s worth when it comes time to sell.

Swimming pools
Houses with swimming pools were very popular a few years ago, but with the recent awareness of dangers and injury statistics, families with children are steering clear of them. Unless you want a pool for your own recreational use, make sure you’re not paying extra for it, as you won’t be seeing a return on the investment.

Multiple stories
In the past, multi-story homes were very popular. Recently, the market has made a surprising shift, and now single-story homes are far more desirable. The exception is single-story homes surrounded by multi-story homes. In most cases, a single-story home will pay off more in the end.

Fireplaces
Though they are quaint and comforting, fireplaces do little to increase the value of a home. Let the seller know that you’re indifferent to the fireplace, and you don’t see it as an additive feature of the house-at least not one that’s worth paying for.

Home Improvements That Increase Home Resale Value

While you’re looking for a home, or if you’ve already moved in, you can always think about ways to increase the resale value. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Home improvements
While you’re browsing homes, look at any “less than desirable” features as an opportunity to make some home improvements. Any ideas you have, from paint color to new furniture, could go a long way toward increasing the home’s value. Assess your own skills, or form a relationship with a contractor, and view the home from the perspective of a restorer. If the lot is sloped, could a new terrace or porch do the trick? If the home only has two bathrooms, could a new half bathroom be added in? Can you turn the home’s imperfections into assets?

Kitchen & bathroom renovation
If you’re checking out a new house, and the kitchen or bathrooms appear uninviting or cramped, consider the cost of renovating these rooms compared with the money saved from purchasing the house in such condition. Even do-it-yourself fixes, like new tiles, new cupboards, or a new coat of paint can increase the value drastically. Keep in mind that most buyers scrutinize the kitchen the most, with the bathrooms a close second, followed by the master bedroom. If you see beauty potential in these rooms, you could turn that potential into profit.

Remove wallpaper
Most buyers don’t like wallpaper. The design is often dated, and buyers don’t want to have to remove it themselves. Here’s where you can turn a hindrance into an opportunity. If you’re willing to put in the effort to remove the wallpaper yourself, you can significantly increase the home’s resale value. When the wallpaper is removed, make sure to paint the walls a neutral color, as this allows a wider range of buyers to essentially project themselves into the home and imagine their lives within its walls.

Your house is your home

While these facts represent the opinions of many real estate experts, thinking about home resale value is still a guessing game. You’re betting that today’s valuable features will retain their value in the future. There are many proven trends, and it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on the local markets and neighborhoods in which you plan on commencing your search. While your house is a large investment, it’s also simply a home. You need to find a house that you can see yourself living in for many years. Keep these tips in the back of your mind, begin your search with confidence and optimism, and when you’ve finally found a new home it will be a positive financial investment, as well as an investment in the future of you and your family.