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Residential Home Contractor – FAQs

As a residential home contractor we are frequently asked about our services. How role does a contractor play in the construction process? Can I save money by serving as my own GC? And many others. Below is a list of our most common FAQ’s. Have additional questions? Give us a call or go to our Contact Us Page and send us an email.

WHAT CAPACITY DOES THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR SERVE IN THE COURSE OF A CONSTRUCTION PROJECT?

The general contractor is the individual primarily responsible for the project development. While part of a team consisting of the architect, engineer, subcontractors, and the client, it is the General Contractor who is the only individual whom is involved in every step of the construction project. His input is considered during design, he controls the actual fabrication, and ultimately responsible for the completed project in excess of ten years after completion.

The contractor considers input from every member of the construction team decides what best fits the clients needs and makes it happen. His duties consist of project management, administration, and budgetary considerations. While balancing these duties he must ensure that the project is built to the highest standards within the budget constraints.

I WAS TOLD THAT I COULD SAVE MONEY BY SERVING AS MY OWN GENERAL CONTRACTOR. IS THIS TRUE?

Anyone who suggests that you be your own general contractor is doing you no favor. Unless you have many years of actual working experience as a general contractor more than likely you are going to cost yourself more money than you could ever save. As Owner / Builder you not the person you hire assume responsibility for the overall job, this includes all code compliance issues, permits, and in some cases state and federal taxes. In order to run a construction project smoothly, on time and budget a qualified professional devotes an excess of forty hours per week.

While your acting as your own general contractor who is performing your chosen profession? Using your vacation time off from work to perform contracting duties will not allow you enough time to fulfill the necessary requirements. So in essence you are not only losing the income from your profession but you are losing time you could be living in your completed home, additional money it will cost you to complete, and possibly substandard construction due to a lack of experience. The pitfalls are many and this is not a course of action we recommend.

IS THERE A STANDARDIZED FIGURE TO CALCULATE BUILDING COSTS?

There is no standardized format for construction costs. Each project is a prototype in it’s own right. Very rarely if ever are two jobs exactly alike, the exception of course would be a tract of homes. Square foot pricing is an approximate method at best. Homes with large rooms with lots of square footage are obviously going to a lower price per square foot than a smaller residence containing similar features. Renovations featuring a kitchen and bathroom remodel will carry a larger square foot price tag than a family room addition. Finishes are also features, which raise the cost of project. There is no exact way to price a project other to have a completed set of plans and specifications.

HOW LONG WILL THE RENOVATION TAKE AND WILL WE BE ABLE TO STAY IN THE HOUSE DURING CONSTRUCTION?

Project duration depends on many variables, scope of work, weather, product availability etc. So once again there is no set method for determining the project length until a full estimate has been completed. Have your contractor provides you with a construction schedule at the start of the project and an updated schedule at least twice a month as the project moves forward.

As for remaining in the house during the course of construction this is not something that we would recommend, especially if you have young children. While every attempt to maintain a clean and safe work place is made, renovation is a dusty dirty job. Exterior walls may be removed. Water shutoff, kitchen and bathroom facilities unavailable, and the power could possibly be turned off for long periods of time. This is a very disrupted life style and it places a strain not only on family relationships but also on contractor / client relationships as well.

DO YOU BID JOBS?

Most of our projects are negotiated bid projects designed to fit the homeowner’s budget. While we do entertain competitive projects we do so with the understanding that there is the possibility that we can be awarded the project without having to be the lowest bidder. The largest pitfall of competitive bidding is the interpretation of the blueprints. Unless the plans are totally comprehensive with extensive construction details and specifications regarding finishes pricing becomes a matter of speculation and interpretation. This is where the homeowner typically runs into problems, trying to compare bids in a competitive bid scenario.

Ninety per cent of the time when there is a sizable difference in project cost the low bidder has insufficient experience and has not done a complete analysis of the project before submitting their bid. This will lead to one of two scenarios, first shoddy craftsmanship because they have not allotted sufficient time or material to perform the job correctly or secondly expensive change orders due to a lack of thorough planning and examination of the plans and specifications. This leads to a desperate contractor short of job funds trying to up sell or charge for anything he can find. Please try to remember you can’t get something for nothing. If the contract price seems to be to good to be true it usually is.

WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS DO YOU DO?

We pride ourselves on providing only the highest quality craftsmanship for both residential and light commercial structures. From the largest estate home to the modest addition our clients have all found satisfaction from the products delivered and services rendered by State of the Art Builders.

State of the Art Builders
3657 Louis Road
Palo Alto, CA

Telephone: (650) 856-8509
E-mail: sotab@sotab.com