Kicking off a home remodel project is a big undertaking, so you want to make sure you’re working with the right partner for your job. Here’s a look at 3 common remodeling options when it comes to planning your next major home improvement.
Home remodels are a great way to add value to your home and create a space that you and your family can enjoy for years. In order to ensure a successful project, one of the first big decisions you’ll need to make is who you’re going to work with. Typically, your remodeling options fall into one of these three categories:
- One-person operation
- General contractor
- Design/Build firm
Below, we break down the pros and cons of each, so you can make a more confident decision when it comes to your next remodel.
1. Remodeling options: One-person operation
As the title suggests, the one-person operation usually consists of the owner of a small construction company who works directly with clients on their remodels. They do much of the work themselves and, like many larger construction firms, contract out more specialized areas like electrical and plumbing.
Lower costs. Since the owner is taking care of a large part of the construction work and doesn’t have a staff to employ, meaning less overhead, you may find that he or she may charge less for your project.
More direct interaction. As a client, you’ll likely have more direct communication with the owner of a one-person operation than a larger firm. They’ll be working directly on your project and will be in your home to answer firsthand any questions you may have.
Possibly shorter timelines. Since the owner isn’t having to juggle multiple employees and crews, and create and maintain complex work schedules, your project may be done faster than if you were working with a larger team. However, as just one person, the owners of these small construction companies will often need to limit to themselves to smaller projects in order to complete them in a timely manner.
Higher risk of job not getting completed. When you work with a sole proprietor construction company, you face a greater chance that the person may get called away, or lured by, another more lucrative project than yours. Or, he or she may simply not be able to keep their company afloat. Either scenario can leave you and your remodel high and dry, forcing you to start your search all over again for someone to complete your work.
In addition, even if the work is done on time, there’s a chance he or she won’t be around a year or two later if an issue arises that needs to be resolved.
Smaller skillset. With one person, you’re typically going to get one skillset. They may be great at one part of your project, but not so great at another. For example, are they adept at design or is their focus solely on construction? Plus, the bigger the project, the more outside people will need to be brought in. That will require scheduling, organization, and planning that may prolong completion of your project.
Unpredictable timeline. While a one-person show can result in quicker completion of projects because there’s no one else to manage or coordinate, it can also have the opposite effect. Will he stay focused on your remodel or get distracted by his other jobs? Does he have a reliable network of subcontractors who can stick to his schedules? With a one-person operation, your timeline may turn out to be very fluid.
2. Remodeling options: General contractor
Another option for your remodel is to hire a general contractor, along with a separate designer. As with the one-person operation, there are pros and cons to this approach as well.
Greater design support. Since you’re hiring a designer along with a contractor, the design will play a much larger role in your project. You’ll have more input into how the space will ultimately look and function, and you can work with the designer beforehand until you’re happy with the space prior to work beginning. Typically when working with a one-person operation, you’re hiring a contractor with little design experience.
More, better organized resources. The best general contractors are really good project managers. They usually have a reliable subcontractor network and can efficiently mobilize resources to make sure your remodel sticks to a predetermined timeline.
Less budget control. Since you’re working with a general contractor separately from your designer, the drawings you agree to before construction may not align with your actual budget when you go over those plans with the contractor. Even worse, construction may start according to your designer’s renderings, only to result in budget overruns down the line as the layout you worked on with the designer requires more extensive construction than initially thought.
3. Remodeling options: Design/build firm
A third remodeling option is to hire a design/build firm, where both the design teams and the general contractor (and construction teams) are all under the same roof.
Great communication. Since the designers and project managers are used to working together, you can expect frequent and useful communication with you and among the teams. Both teams are aware of each other’s timelines and work side-by-side once work gets underway, available to answer your questions and to quickly consult each other if any issues arise.
Tighter budget control. If done properly, your design/build firm will establish an overall budget with you at the outset of your project. Then they’ll work with you on a design that meets that budget. The construction costs will align to that budget as well, and then they should execute on that. The result is a project that’s completed without budget bloat or unexpected cost overruns.
Cost. Working with a design/build firm will usually cost more than a one-person operation. You’re collaborating with teams of professionals rather than single proprietor, so you’re not only paying for more bodies, you’re also getting the extra value of those seasoned experts.
When compared to working with a separate general contractor and designer, the costs will be relatively similar. The main (positive) difference is that you’ll only be writing a single check to one firm whose costs are aligned, rather than having to manage two separate budgets.
Can be hard to price shop. When pricing out design/build firms, the cost differences can be very slim — about 5%-10% — particularly if you stay within the same design style for your home. When you set your budget with a design/build firm, typically they’re already building in a 5% variance or so just to account for contingencies, so price shopping to try to make up for that can be challenging.
Are you thinking about doing a remodel and aren’t sure where to start? We’re happy to discuss your project and help you make an informed decision that best meets your needs. Simply schedule a conversation with us!
For more ideas on how to help plan and budget for your next remodeling project, check out: