8 Steps That Guarantee You To Be a Real Estate General Contractor

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – I’m closing on a triplex (two 2bed/1bath units and one 1bed/1bath) on Monday that needs renovation and I’ve decided to GC this project on my own. The Local Records Office in Norwalk, CA sat down and started getting my thoughts together about a calendar and timeline and I realized that this process would make a great article for anyone doing their first renovation or anyone who wanted to get more organized. My golden rule for renovations is to make a realistic budget and timeline and stick to them.

Here are the 8 steps I follow when renovating a property:

Step 1: Demo

Maybe the most critical step because having a clean working environment will actually save time and money. Have your demo crew take down walls and get everything out of your way before making any improvements. Also, have them remove any trees or bushes that are in the way of progress. Then have the demo crew remove all of the trash and debris.

(Note: A beginner mistake is to perform these steps room by room or unit by unit but that actually ends up costing more time and money when contractors have to return so whenever possible have the contractors perform their task for the entire project before moving to the next step.)

Step 2: Waterproof Building Envelope

Another critical step because nothing would be worse than renovating a property only to have some or all of the renovations ruined after the first rainy day. In this step, I focus on making the property is completely protected against the elements. This includes fixing or replacing the roof, the gutters, the windows, the window capping, masonry work, gradation issues, sidewalks, basement, parging, and foundation work. Make sure that by the end of this step the building is 100% waterproof.

Step 3: Preliminary Framing

Now that the property is a blank pallet and watertight you can begin any structural or light framing you are doing on the project. Not every project requires this step but if you are moving or installing walls now is the time to build them. Also, use this opportunity to repair or replace joists and sub-flooring if necessary.

Step 4: HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical

In the next phase the heating, cooling, electrical, gas and plumbing systems are put in place. Here are some common tasks that occur during this phase of the renovation:

The HVAC contractor will run the ductwork so it can properly be distributed to each

  • Floor
  • Plumbing lines are installed
  • Water lines for kitchens and baths are installed
  • The main electric panel is replaced or cleaned up
  • Electrical wiring is repaired/replaced
  • Switches and outlets are changed/upgraded

After all of the ducts and lines are installed your framing contractor will return for some secondary framing. All this entails is dry-walling and boxing in the ducts/lines that were just installed.

Step 5: Insulation and Drywall

The next step requires the installation of insulation and drywall. Make sure that the drywall contractor hangs, tapes, spackles, and sands the drywall and leaves it ready for the painter to begin painting. Painters can sand and prep the walls but they are usually more expensive than dry-wallers so try to have the dry-wallers do most of the wall prep.

Step 6: Paint, Lighting, HVAC, Plumbing, Kitchens, Baths

This phase of the renovation covers interior paint, lighting installation, HVAC, and finalizing the plumbing. This is the home stretch and a great deal of work is done in this step. Common tasks include:

  • Prime and paint interior walls
  • Install kitchen cabinets
  • Order/install counters
  • Install new interior doors
  • Order/install flooring
  • Install trim/molding
  • Install light fixtures, switches cover plates and outlet cover plates
  • Make sure the HVAC system is installed and fully-functional
  • Install sinks, vanities, toilets and kitchen/bath fixtures

Step 7: Interior Punch list

If you’ve made this far take a deep breath because you are almost done! The interior punch list phase is the time when you go around and put the finishing touches on your renovation project.

Common punch list tasks include installing HVAC trim covers, outlet light switch covers, doorknobs, cabinet handles, touching up paint and all of the small items that really make the project look great. Make a list and go down item-by-item and cross them off as they are complete.

Step 8: Exterior

The final step is the exterior renovation. This step includes exterior landscaping, exterior paint touch up, mailbox installation, property address number installation, flower boxes, window shutters, door hardware and any other item dealing with exterior curb appeal.

Congratulations you’re done! As you can tell overseeing your own renovation project really isn’t that scary if you are super organized and stick to a timeline. Follow these steps and over time you will streamline your process and become more efficient. Best of luck and make sure to let me know how it goes.

Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/RecordsOffice

Like us on Facebook facebook.com/localrecordsoffice

Watch us on Youtube youtube.com/user/LocalRecordsOffice

Watch on Vimeo vimeo.com/localrecordsofficevideo

Talk to us on Disqus disqus.com/by/local_records_office/

Look for us on LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/local-records-office

Pin us on Pinterest pinterest.com/localrecords/

Tumble with us on Tumblr localrecordsoffice.tumblr.com/

Watch us on Dailymotion dailymotion.com/local-records-office

Find us on WordPress localrecordsoffices.wordpress.com/

Should I Work on my Own Home by Doing DIY Projects or Hire a Professional Contractor?

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – You don’t need the construction skills of Bob Vila to start working on your own home, yet it’s no secret that you can save money if you do some of the work yourself, of course not all projects could be done by a rookie DIY’er. As a general rule, estimates from contractors in our area run 1/3 for materials and 2/3’s for labor. So theoretically, we save 66% by doing the project ourselves, right?

Doing it Yourself Projects Has It’s Benefits but it Also Has it’s Downside

To decide, consider:

  • Cost of materials: Can materials be purchased at contractor cost or will you pay a hefty up-charge? Is it possible to find materials at salvage or a Habitat-type store to increase your margin of profit?
  • Cost of time: How much longer will this take to DIY? And in real dollars, how much will this add to holding costs? Holding costs include but are not limited to mortgage payments, insurance (generally higher when property is empty and/or under construction), utility bills, and lost rent. If it takes 2 weeks working nights and weekends to complete a project your contractor can finish in 2 days, add 10 days of holding costs.

Great DIY Example

The decision to DIY should be a simple mathematical equation where you:

  • Price materials
  • Estimate the time needed to complete the project
  • Multiply the number of days/weeks by the daily/weekly rate for holding costs, then
  • Subtract that amount from the contractor bid

Of course it’s not that easy… how much fun would that be?

For starters, you may not be delaying completion of the project if other work is going on anyway. Contractor delays are a common problem and if yours has a history of putting off your projects for another day, you might be able to finish sooner than he can anyway. But besides that, there’s value hidden away in DIY projects that can only be mined by rolling up the sleeves and getting your nails encrusted with something icky.

Learning New Skill Will Help You on the Long Run

By learning a new skill, you increase both ability and confidence. You’re also learning to identify quality work, the amount and difficulty of labor, special tools needed for the job, and reasonable time estimates for completion. If you decide to hire someone next time, you’ll have a much better idea what’s involved in the project and if bids are reasonable. That type of knowledge is invaluable to the rehab professional, paying dividends with every new project.

Just Another Opinion

Consider taking on at least one new project with each rehab, even if it’s as simple as replacing a light switch or changing out a doorknob. With experience, you’ll learn which repairs save the most and which are best left to others. During your first few houses, try to be as hands-on as possible and consider it part of your rehab education.

You Don’t Have to be a Professional Handy-Man to do Great DIY Projects

If you have no handy-man skills whatsoever, you might try working alongside your contractor (if he’ll have you). He may tell you to pound sand (politely of course), but if you have a good working relationship, it’s worth a shot. Later, you may find that hiring reputable contractors for most (if not all) of the work will save enough in holding costs to justify the expense.

To learn more about real estate and Local Records Office go to http://www.LocalRecordsOffice.co

Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/RecordsOffice

Like us on Facebook facebook.com/localrecordsoffice

Watch us on Youtube youtube.com/user/LocalRecordsOffice

Review us on Yelp yelp.com/biz/local-records-office-las-vegas-2

Watch on Vimeo vimeo.com/localrecordsofficevideo

Talk to us on Disqus disqus.com/by/local_records_office/

Look for us on LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/localrecordsoffice

Pin us on Pinterest pinterest.com/localrecords/

Tumble with is on Tumblr localrecordsoffice.tumblr.com/

Watch us on Dailymotion dailymotion.com/local-records-office

Find us on WordPress localrecordsoffices.wordpress.com/

Contracting A Trustworthy Contractor to Get the Job Done by Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES – There are three things every real estate investor needs in their arsenal: money, deals, and a good contractor (there are probably others, but these are key). Good contractors make life much easier. All too often people – myself included – don’t like the idea of hiring or interviewing people; it’s a daunting process.

 

Unfortunately, this can lead to rushing into choosing the first contractor that gives a bid just because it’s easier. We all know – even though we may not admit it out loud – that a little due diligence up front often pays off in the end. Hopefully this article will shed some light for those starting and maybe even some of the experienced investors out there. But, before we start interviewing, take a deep breath and relax – this is fun!

 

Contractors Are the Root of the Real Estate Market

 

Tip #1: Set up interviews for 4-6 contractors; 5 are often the sweet spot. Yes, this will ultimately mean that you have to tell someone they are not getting the job, but that’s okay. It’s business and as long as you keep it that way, you shouldn’t shy away. As a general rule, if you call 4 contractors, 1 will not show up/cancel, 1 will show up but not bid and 2 will give you bids. I don’t mean to insult or bring down contractors with this, but it’s often what we see.

 

The idea behind calling 4-6 is to get 3 bids total. If you get many more than three, it’s too much time and work to compare. Plus, if a contractor knows he’s bidding against 2 others for one job and 6 others for a second job, which one is he more likely to put the time into bidding on?

 

Tip #2: Have a detailed scope of work and provide each contractor with that scope for bidding. It’s really easy to walk into a property and say, “Here’s my project. I want some new lighting here, new kitchen there, some carpet and some paint.” This will only lead to confusion and an impossible comparison of contractors’ bids. Take the time to develop a clear, detailed scope of work.

 

This can be anywhere from 60-120 lines on a spreadsheet, depending on how big the job is. After you’ve developed a relationship with a contractor, then this may get a little more lax, but err on the side of details! Having a detailed, line-by-line scope will ensure that you and each contractor are on the same page both through the bidding and when the work is done.

 

One last note on this point is that contractors will often have their own way for bidding jobs. I understand that may be easy for them, but this is your project and if you want to be able to compare apples to apples, they need to use the scope you give them and price it the same way as everyone else. If you aren’t in control for something as simple as the scope of work, what’s going to happen when you have a difference of opinion on where that wall goes or when something needs to be completed?

 

Being Cheap May Cost You More

 

Tip #3: Cheaper isn’t always better. Don’t be afraid to pay your contractor for good work (you’re welcome contractors…). A good contractor can be worth what he charges. And you also have to consider the nature of the relationship early on. If this is the first job you’ve given a contractor, he’s probably not as keen to give you great pricing until you are able to keep him busy.

 

There are always exceptions to this, as sometimes the lowest bidder will do nice work. That’s great- hold on to them. But I think it’s more often that the lowest bidder gets selected, only to end up either over in time or budget, or even too difficult to work with. Getting references can often help with foreseeing these issues and that leads us to our next Tip.

 

Hire Licensed Contractors ONLY!

 

Tip #4: Make sure your contractor is willing to provide license, insurance, W9, and references. Any contractor that is serious will have each of these things and not shy away from providing them. License and insurance are pretty self-explanatory. You want to make sure your contractor is skilled in what he or she claims and is covered by insurance if there’s an accident.

 

The W9 is so that you aren’t paying his taxes at the end of the year. Equally important- if not most important – is the references. Get at least 3 references for good work and at least one for something that went wrong. Why something that went wrong? Because it is always going to happen- miscommunication, error in ordering, etc. It’s important to know how the issue was resolved. Don’t be afraid to have the contractor show you some of the jobs that they are currently working on.

 

Requirements and Restrictions Are Going to be Necessary

 

Tip #5: The contractor needs to be okay with your contract documents and the requirements in it. A good contractor will be okay with your contract; make sure it’s fair for each side. You may want to include a daily penalty for late work and/or a bonus for early work. Just make sure both sides agree and are happy with it.

 

Tip #6: Follow your gut. This is the last tip I have for you. Sometimes you’ll get to the end of your contractor selection process and the differences are negligible on paper. In this case, go with your gut. How did you feel while talking with them? Doing the walk-through? Go with that little tingle you feel in your gut, it’ll steer you where you need to go.

 

To learn more about real estate and Local Records Office go to http://www.Local-Records-Offices.co

Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/RecordsOffice

Like us on Facebook facebook.com/localrecordsoffice

Watch us on Youtube youtube.com/user/LocalRecordsOffice

Review us on Yelp yelp.com/biz/local-records-office-las-vegas-2

Watch on Vimeo vimeo.com/localrecordsofficevideo

Talk to us on Disqus disqus.com/by/local_records_office/

Look for us on LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/localrecordsoffice

Pin us on Pinterest pinterest.com/localrecords/

Tumble with is on Tumblr localrecordsoffice.tumblr.com/

Watch us on Dailymotion dailymotion.com/local-records-office

Find us on WordPress localrecordsoffices.wordpress.com/