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  • Corey Gilmer

Do you really need to hire a general contractor and/or designer for your next project?


A residential general contractor is a home remodeling professional who organizes and executes larger remodeling projects. Often these professionals are confused with home improvement pros. But as they will be quick to tell you, a home remodeling professional deals with longer projects that incorporate specific design and architectural ideas to provide a homeowner with a better living experience, either by adding space or making better use of an established space.

A home improvement contractor is usually tasked with smaller, though no less important items, such as installing new windows, flooring, cabinets, siding, landscaping, etc. A good way to think of a residential general contractor is that he is in charge of home improvement contractors, or what are referred to in the field as “subcontractors”.

When to Hire Residential Contractors

Many people do not realize that the average kitchen remodel takes 5-6 weeks to complete. Not to mention that to complete the remodel you are likely to need an electrician, a plumber, a countertop contractor, a cabinet contractor, a flooring pro, a painter, and someone to install the appliances. That’s a lot of people. A well planned and scheduled project can save you hundreds of dollars and days off of the timeline. A good RC should not allow for any days of "down time." Ask to see his/hers project schedule to review for any gaps that could be eliminated.

The brilliance of a residential general contractor is that he can not only coordinate all of these other professionals and schedule them so that one person is not in another’s way, but he also knows what a good price is on their labor charge and how to do some of the work himself, whereas the average homeowner will not.

Rules to Follow

We have often found that many people hire a residential general contractor when they don’t really need one, and on the flip side of that, there are people who don’t hire them when they should. Here are some quick rules of thumb:

  • If the job is going to take more than a week, hire a GC.

  • If the job requires several different pros to complete, hire a GC.

  • If the job requires a few permits, hire a GC.

When selecting a home professional, using a few guidelines can help protect you from fraudulent contractors. These warning signs indicate a contractor who may be running a scam:

  • Does not list a number in the phone book.

  • Asks you to get required building permits.

  • Only accepts cash.

  • Solicits door-to-door.

  • Says you will get a discount if you find other customers for that contractor.

  • Says your job will be a demonstration.

  • Offers exceptionally long guarantees.

  • Asks you to pay for the entire job up front.

  • Tries to scare you into signing for repairs claiming they are urgent.

  • Demands a lien on your property.

Always read and understand every word of a contract before signing. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Make sure when you are hiring that you ask for a residential general contractor because this title also applies to professionals who specialize in commercial and industrial projects. Using the word “residential” helps you to ensure that you are not wasting time talking to the wrong person.

You’re going to save money

Ever bought a piece of furniture that looked so good in the store, but was too big once you got it home? Ever painted three or four times trying to find the right color palette? It may seem like like an oxymoron because you’re going to have to pay the additional designer’s fee, but the truth is that hiring a designer can help you avoid costly mistakes and help you make design decisions that will increase the value of your home. And if you’re on a tight budget, a designer is going to know how to get the best value out of what you can spend. An experienced designer is used to working on a line item budget and will help you understand where every penny is going.

You’re going to save time

We’d figure to start off with the two things most people wish they could have more of: time and money. Just like hiring a designer will benefit you financially, a designer will also save you on time. A designer already has a trained sense of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, and they’ll be able to anticipate any obstacles that may come up.

You’re going to get professional assessment

When you hire a trained designer, you get an immediate plan of action for your space. Professional interior designers went to school and had several apprenticeships to do what they do. A trained pair of eyes will see things you’re guaranteed to miss. Interior design is a delicate balance of art and science, and good interior designers have studied both, so they know how to put them together. If you want to learn more about what makes an interior designer an interior designer, read our article on it here.

You’re going to have a qualified liaison

A good designer will know how to speak the language when it comes to architects, contractors, and building owners. This is crucial in managing time and money. Strong communication between the interior design and the lighting, furnishing, and architecture is absolutely key. For example, proper outlet placement is going to depend on how you want your furniture placed. These types of issues should be addressed before any construction, and an interior designer will know exactly which issues need to be brought up.

You’re going to have better resources and contacts

Everyone knows it’s difficult to find good resources. But designers already work in the world of home improvement, so they’re going to have reliable connections that you may need. Hiring a designer will help you easily find an electrician, plumber, and/or contractor that you can trust. Designers also have access to tons of product and fabric that is not available to the general public. With these resources, an interior designer will create a space for you that looks collected and unique (instead of the big box retailer stuff everyone has in their home).

You’re going to have wow factor

Interior designers are trained to think creatively and spatially and learn to see an overall picture that clients often cannot. Thinking outside of the box is what designers do on the regular. Not only will you get a good design sense, but you’ll also get an attention to detail from proper lighting and furniture placement to fabric choices and color palette and fixture options. A professional interior designer will create custom-designed pieces to make sure everything fits perfectly and is truly special to your home. Designers can also get you furniture, fabric, and materials that are trade-only and not accessible to everyone else. People notice a well-designed home. Try to do it by yourself, and you’re stuck juggling the many elements that go into designing that a designer is specifically trained to do. And when they’re done, not only will your home look beautiful and cohesive, but it’ll be well thought out and highly functional.


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Gilmer's Home Improvements, LLC