10 Types of Projects When a Homeowner Needs to Hire a General Contractor

Fixer-uppers. Storm damage. DIY disasters. One of the most valuable lessons a homeowner can learn is when it’s time to hire a professional like you. Here are the 10 types of construction projects for which they’ll need the oversight and industry know-how of a general contractor to turn their home design dreams into realities.

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

1. Anytime Multiple Pros Are Needed

Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, cabinetmakers, flooring pros, appliance installers…for kitchens, bathrooms, or any other remodeling projects that require more than one specialty contractor, hiring a general contractor is essential for homeowners. 

No matter how big or small the project, when multiple specialty contractors are needed, coordinating the logistics and timeline of multiple subcontractors makes everything more complicated. A GC is needed to manage the day-to-day work, troubleshoot, maintain the site, and keep the client informed — all while keeping the overall vision for the project in check.

2. If They’re Tackling a Fixer-Upper

Even when clients seek out a fixer-upper, they might be surprised at how quickly their list of repairs and redesigns can get out of control (or by how sloppy their own attempts at retiling the bathroom can look).  Hiring a GC is not only the fastest way to achieve their dream home, but is also the best way to preserve their sanity during the extensive remodeling process.

3. Whenever Permits Are Required

As a contractor, you know all too well that to add a wall, turn a garage into a living room, or install a new fireplace, city and county building permits are required before work can begin. But your average homeowner wouldn’t know where to begin securing this paperwork. That’s why they need a well-versed professional like you to navigate the world of local ordinances and building regulations to make sure their project is above board and up to code.

4. For Simple Structural Changes

Homeowners might assume that they have to hire an architect and GC when making structural changes like removing a wall in order to open up a room. Let them know that you can handle smaller projects on your own, from getting a structural engineer in to assess the space and scope of the project, to overseeing construction and electrical work and obtaining the proper permits.

5. To Bring an Architect’s Plans to Life

Those working with an architect to build a custom home will need to find a GC to help translate their plans from abstract floor plans to brick-and-mortar homes. And oftentimes, architects will recommend a contractor who they know and have worked well with before — someone they can depend on to manage the work, communicate with them when issues arise, and work well with on a personal level.

Relationships between architects and contractors can be tricky since both come to a project with different perspectives. But you need each other, and how seamlessly you work together can make or break a project. So seek out architects you work well with and maintain those relationships so you’ll be their go-to contractor for new jobs that come their way, and also so you have a list of preferred architects to suggest when a client asks you for recommendations.

6. When the Homeowner is the Designer

Some design-savvy homeowners may want to tackle small projects themselves, without the help of an interior designer. For those jobs, your industry knowledge as a builder will be invaluable, especially when questions about scheduling, permits, and other aspects of the job the homeowner hasn’t thought of come up.  

But trust your gut: if you get the feeling a potential new client who’s looking to be their own designer is in over their head, give it some serious consideration before taking them and their personal project on.

7. For a Straightforward Addition

While architects are needed for involved projects, contractors can often manage small or simple additions on their own. Additions to ranch houses may be especially feasible for GCs to tackle without an architect’s input because of their single-floor designs and more straightforward construction issues.

8. In Case of Flood, Fire, or Storm Damage

When unfortunate events like natural disasters hit homes, top-to-bottom repairs are often required. Contractors are needed to take on extensive to-do lists for projects like ripping out water-damaged carpets and flooring, installing new drywall, repairing electrical damage, repainting walls, and restoring exteriors damaged by wind, rain, fire, or fallen trees. 

9. To Resolve Safety Issues

Whenever the safety of a homeowner and their family is at risk, tell them to resist the urge to hire a handyman or attempt the work themselves. As a building professional, your informed oversight on every aspect of the project will ensure the issue is resolved with no mishaps or additional safety issues.

10. To Fix DIYs Gone Wrong

We’ve all heard the horror stories about homeowners who’ve bitten off more than they can chew on supposedly easy home projects, leading to tragicomic results. When DIYs turn into disasters, homeowners need a pro like you to come to their rescue. 

It can be tricky to assess a project in various states of failure and deal with a stressed-out homeowner to boot. But your client will be grateful when you’re able to step in and set their world straight again.