Why Hire a General Contractor?
At first glance, the role of a general contractor can seem vague. Acting as a conductor of sorts for home renovation projects, general contractors are responsible for ensuring the successful completion of the project, making sure that the whole process runs smoothly.
However, according to some people, hiring a general contractor is an avoidable, even frivolous, expense. We decided to look into this and tried to find out the main reasons that can lead people to hire a general contractor.
What is a general contractor?
In Quebec, a general contractor holds a special license, as emitted by the Régie du Batiment du Québec (RBQ). Along with the title come several roles that can vary from one contract to another. General contractors are usually hired for large-scale contracts (ex: full kitchen renovation, finishing a basement, etc.) which require workers from several trades collaborating together (electricians, plumbers, carpenters).
Oftentimes, the general contractor is able to complete some of the tasks and for the rest of the job, they hire sub-contractors that they trust. Over time, general contractors build up their network of people whom they know can do good work.
Here’s a quick example that best illustrates the previous explanation: You want to renovate your bathroom. The floor, the bathtub, the light fixtures and the walls all have to be redone. Your general contractor will take care of the floor, but they will use sub-contractors for all the other tasks. If you want to complete this type of renovation project without the help of a general contractor, you would have to oversee each step of the process yourself.
If you hire a general contractor, they will basically take care of everything for you. Right from the start, you’ll notice the difference: without a general contractor, you’ll have to contact at least ten contractors to set up meetings (with plumbers, electricians, painters, etc.).
Afterwards, you’ll have to add all the prices up in order to keep your budget in check, buy the materials and take all the right decisions along the way. To this end, having to take so many important decisions over a short amount of time could create problematic situations, since chances are that you’ll forget something and that this omission, no matter how minor, could end up having major consequences.
When hiring a general contractor to oversee your renovation project, you’ll save time and potential sources of stress. In order to get their license, contractors have to prove that they have enough knowledge to complete large-scale projects. For you, this translates into a certain proof of quality, since they are responsible for the project and for any after-sales services that come with it.
Photo: Quantum Construction
Difference between hiring a general contractor and a specialized contractor
As you may have guessed, contrary to general contractors, specialized contractors do not have the proper authority or the right license to oversee and organize a full-scale renovation project. They must concentrate on their own task and cannot work on something that isn’t covered by their license.
The other main difference between the licenses is that with the RBQ, specialized contractors are entitled to a $20 000 surety-bond, whereas for general contractors the bond amounts to $40 000. If there’s a problem during the renovation process or shortly afterwards, the client will be able to get compensated through the RBQ.
In the case of a general contractor, they are responsible for everything, regardless of the source of the problem (ex: one of their sub-contractors).
Hiring a general contractor
Before you sign a contract with a general contractor, make sure that you establish a relationship that is based on trust. Read our article about our meeting with Yves, a general contractor, to learn more about the role of a general contractor. In other words, a general contractor has to listen to the client and take their needs into account.
They have to respect deadlines and budget restrictions. After the project has been completed, they must offer proper after-sales services. More specifically, they are under the obligation of having a valid RBQ license and a Quebec Business Number (NEQ). Soumission Renovation checks these things for you. We also guarantee that the contractors we refer to you have a clean reputation (no OPC complaints on their record, no trials lost in the last few years).
If, after having read the previous paragraphs, you still decide to oversee the work yourself, you should at least take out a good insurance policy.
Looking for a good general contractor for you renovation project?
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