Live and learn. That still holds true for us at S + H Construction, even though we’ve been in this business for almost 35 years. Some of what we learn falls under the category of “you can’t make this up,” while other things are just old realizations that get reinforced with each passing year. We’ve noticed that the learning process is also true for a new generation of homeowners who, just as with generations past, are learning by experience the enduring truths about renovation work and new construction, and why it’s important to hire a legitimate general contractor. With an abundance of home improvement and “home–flippers” shows, many people are led to believe that being a general contractor is something that anyone can do or manage while learning on the fly.
House flippers, formerly known as developers, for the most part, have one goal: to put as little money as possible into a project while maximizing the return on their investment. This usually results in sacrificing quality. When I think back, we probably put a couple of kids through college fixing “issues” that occurred on various development projects over the years! Granted, there are full-time developers who turn out a good product and have good contractors working for them. Unfortunately, they seem to be the exception. The first-time or part-time “flippers” face further challenges. Time is the most important resource when managing a project and this is usually in short supply for people who still have to show up at their day job in order to pay for the work being done. It is critical to have an experienced individual maintain a regular presence at the job site. That person ideally is a lead carpenter/job super who can alternate between wrangling subcontractors, material deliveries, and meetings with homeowners and architects, while still being able to perform physical work. Many of these same issues apply to homeowners contemplating a new home or a renovation. While home improvement programs and DIY information are readily available, in most cases, redesign, remodeling, and even maintenance issues require the expertise of a professional. It is not always as easy as it looks.
Learning by experience is one way to go about things, and taking advice is another. Our recommendation for new homeowners, or any homeowners for that matter, who are considering a renovation or new construction, is to find a good reputable contractor and a good reputable designer and bring them together as a team to design and build a project using the best practices from the industry. You may have to live in your home for a long time. Don’t cut corners. Build it to last.