Own Home Project - GC’ing for first time

8 Replies

I guess there is always a first time for everything. Though remodeling is not new for me but I have always been the person who had companies come into my house, quote the project, the selected one will do the work and then I write checks. My involvement has been in providing design as I felt they were good with designing the standard way which was not always the best.

I have ambition of being a savvy investor down the road – (buy/fix/rent or buy-flip-sell) and feel that I should have gone more hands-on with the past projects (kitchen/bathrooms/family room) to learn more basics. As we are looking to remodel our basement, I feel I should GC this project to gain that exposure. I guess it will be a great learning opportunity to understand deep dive details of remodeling and working with subs. Am I right in thinking that this experience will help me down the road when I will look at potential houses for fixing/flipping? I want to build that sound knowledge base that I can leverage later on and make better decisions. I know certain things that I need to look for. I have made a list of things that needs to be done but this is where I need guidance from BP members on how I should handle this. I will have a team of contractors but who among them (example – Framing/carpenter/ somebody else?) can be the one I can consult with? I am sure it is not easy but unless I jump into it, I don’t think I can learn as much.

Your feedback will be highly appreciated. Btw, if there is already any thread that has such discussion, the pointer to that would be great!

@Lucky Oldham

Basement remodel is a great place to get your feet wet. Will likely involve most phases of construction (depending on the extent of the rehab). I would definitely recommend GC'ing (if local codes permit this), but have a great team around you. Hire a quality all around carpenter who has good references and has done basement remodels previously then have them guide you through the process. Essentially you will be GC'ing alongside them. 

Make sure you follow all permitting processes since you will need to do this on your own flips and work as closely with the other subs as you can. Ask lot's of questions, hold boards, clean up for them, stay as present as possible. Some people don't feel comfortable doing this, but tell them you want to learn and remember that you are paying for the project. The next one will be a lot easier and in time, you will have confidence in this sometimes unpredictable phase of investing. 

Don't forget the electrician!

Absolutely @Max Tanenbaum ...:) He is one of the main contractors that I will have. Also, thanks @Marshall Downs for your inputs. Here is my small synopsis/plan...what all you think i am missing..?

Scope of work: Remodel basement – no structural changes other than removing a wall to create open space; mainly bringing up a fresh look to the basement that is still stuck in 60s. Demo to remove old walls, bar. Install mold resistant sheetrock, acoustic ceiling, new flooring, recess lights, replace toilet, vanity. Add some cabinet for storage.

People I need for this->

Designer – working already with one person on that

Carpenter – install sheetrock on walls; acoustic ceiling, general finishes; any cabinet/storage work; carpenter can install new floors (?); baseboard; windows; trim - I’d look up to him for general guidance and to answer even my questions.

Electrician – run wiring for recess lights;

Plumber – some work to move water pipes; remove and reinstall hot water radiator pipes ; replace toilet, setup Vanity.


Someone for insulation, Demolition

What are your thoughts about

  • Type of contract - I should do only fixed price contract with them for scope of work – right? No Time & Material as I’ll not be around to check on them.
  • How about material that is needed? Of course I will buy big major items but small items – I should reimburse them for what they buy based on receipt or ask them to include that in their initial quote for contract?

Guys, thanks a million...

You are on the right track, and here are a couple more things to consider:

Since you have hot water heat you will likely need to bring in a boiler tech. This is somewhat area dependent, as some plumbers do work on boilers, but they split plumbers from HVAC contractors a while ago in my area and now you need a boiler certification to even move a radiator.

As for the type of contract, yes definitely lump sum. If a carpenter can't provide you with this and wants to do time and material move on, they are not the right person for you. You should, however, ask for an hourly rate in addition to the base bid in the event something unforeseen arises which inevitability will happen. If/when something comes up ask for a change order which documents the change in work scope.

Which brings up another point...treat this as you would a larger project such as a flip with regard to checking insurance and licenses. Get contracts for everything, even if it is just a signed quote that adequately describes the scope of work. Have your subs all supply lien waivers (you can find templates online or at your title company if they are not readily available) upon progress payments. Do not get too far ahead in payment versus work completed.

Good luck!

Ditto on the need to get permits.  If you want to be a professional some day, act like a pro now.  Also agree that you should get a fixed price contract for each sub based on a very thorough scope of work.  The subs should review the SOW in detail and note any uncertainties that may result a change order.  If you do the demo first and everything is exposed before the sub contracts are signed you should not have any surprises.  Also, make sure each sub sees a complete plan showing the work of every other sub.  All the subs need to coordinate well with each other and understand how their work impacts others.

A couple of other comments: 1) get a drywall sub contractor to do that work.  They will be much faster and cheaper than a general carpenter - unless the carpenter also did drywall  in a past life.  It is amazing how fast the rock is installed and you can hardly buy the materials for their all in $$.  2) If you can get a way from your day job on occasion it is well worth it to keep an eye on the project. Take a vacation day if you need to.  Volunteer to be grunt labor for the subs.  Stay out of their way of course but you will be amazed how many problems can be resolved quickly with a little oversight.  Good luck!

Awesome @Marshall Downs and @James G. I have few follow up questions –

On insurance – I will confirm that they have insurance in case they screw something up accidently on the site then the damages are covered. On the flip, if they get hurt while doing the job at my place, are they covered with their own insurance? Do I need to add any insurance coverage on my homeowner’s policy for this project and take off when project is done?

I may be jumping the gun but do I need an attorney for anything? I know flippers do have attorney but I guess that is more commercial in nature and this is personal work so far.

Marshall, can you explain what you meant by “Have your subs all supply lien waivers (you can find templates online or at your title company if they are not readily available) upon progress payments”.

James for focusing on contracts – so I guess each sub will have a standard contract – what specifics we need to put in will be scope, cost and payment milestones (and notifications that can change the scope) - anything more?

Btw, here is note for my local colleagues

@Shaun Reilly

@Brian Ortins  @JamesLoisou

 and other folks in Newton area -

Do you know of a reliable carpenter that I can use? I have couple but they are tied up with their current jobs until end of the year.

Thanks guys...wonderfull inputs.


For insurance you can get added as additionally insured to their policies. This transfers liability to them and their insurance protects you for the project duration. You shouldn't have to add anything to your homeowners policy, but may want to run this by your agent.

Can't think of anything you'd need an attorney for unless you want them to review contracts.

Lien waivers are a way to protect yourself against a contractor encumbering your property with a lien, so when you pay them progress payments have them complete a waiver of lien each time for the amount you pay them.

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