A. A licensed architect brings finesse and expertise to a remodeling job because of his training in building design, engineering, and ergonomics. An architect will examine your house, listen to what you envision for your renovated space, then provide floor plans or complete blueprints. He will also help select a general construction contractor, work with a structural engineer for permitting, and oversee the construction plan to ensure all work progresses according to plan.
It’s important to note that there is a big difference between architects and contractors: Architects perceive space in terms of visual and aesthetic appeal; services provided by a general contractor entail viewing space in terms of its most efficient use. But both can save you money through the creative use of space and materials.
A. Building permits help to regulate construction and ensure that all residential and commercial property construction is safe. The safety of the occupants of buildings is the primary reason for having construction codes, and the permits are in place to make certain that whatever work is being done to a home or business complies with those codes.
Although property owners are allowed to get their own building permits, among the duties of a general contractor is to secure the permits. Most times, it is in the property owner’s best interest to have the contractor they hired do this. There are a number of reasons why this is best; for starters, the contractor is better qualified to answer all pertinent questions from the building department. But most importantly: If property owners secure their own building permits, they, and not the contractor, are responsible and must answer to building inspectors during home inspections. And this could cause delays of up to several weeks.
In addition, the contractor is able to save the homeowner money by negotiating fees. Permit fees are usually calculated by the value and scope of a project. A good contractor will know how to acquire permits with the least amount of money.
A. Remodeling a house can be a monumental undertaking. For people busy with their daily lives – work and family – it’s best to hire a general contractor for the project. If you decide to manage your own home remodeling project, be prepared: It could tie up your time and become your second full time job.
Think about whether you are able to perform all the work a contractor does, including being familiar with the basics of construction and organization of work. You could save money, but would the end result be worth the cost savings? When considering these options, always think about the ultimate value of the home improvement project and whether you have the luxury and know-how to do the job yourself rather than leaving it to an industry professional.
A: Green Remodeling reduces operating costs in the home by increasing efficiency, conserving natural resources, increasing the value of the home, improving indoor air quality and in turn, overall health; reducing waste, reducing emissions costs, and increasing productivity of occupants, and improving quality of life.
A: Green Remodeling can be done in small ways and doesn't necessarily have to encompass the entire home. It’s easy to pick and choose elements that fit each particular homeowner. The following can be used:
• Non-toxic paints and sealants
• Programmable thermostats
• Energy efficient appliances
• Natural flooring
• Local building materials
• Natural fiber rugs and fabrics
• Recycled material roof shingles and tiles
• Energy efficient lighting
• Insulated hot water pipes
• Tank-less water heaters
• Quality insulation
• Native plants for landscaping
A. It used to be that property owners and general contractors could not be held liable for the negligence of independent subcontractors or their employees. But as the use of subcontractors increased and subcontractors, in turn, retained their own subcontractors, it became harder to find a responsible and solvent party to sue in the event of damages incurred from a subcontractor’s negligence. So the courts developed theories under which owners or general contractors could be held liable for the negligence of subcontractors. These theories usually were grounded on the amount of control retained by the owner or general contractor over the work being done. The bottom line is: Circumstances do arise in which there is both a general contractor and an owner with retained control over a project and both may be found liable.
A. You may sometimes wonder: What is a general contractor? A general contractor company is a business that employs several people in the office and others, carpenters, excavators, etc., who work in the field. The general contractor is the foundation of the operation, so to speak. He is involved in going out to bid on a project and overseeing the entire scope of the project, bringing in suppliers, subcontractors and skilled craftsmen to perform the necessary work. The general contractor is usually the first – and main – point of contact.
The construction manager is the entity responsible for almost all phases of construction program management, including bid solicitation, job management and accounting. He works directly with subcontractors and suppliers, overseeing their work throughout the construction process, while devising ways to add value and maximize cost savings in the construction management plan. A construction manager is generally present on the site of high-end construction projects, in which his presence is often crucial to the overall outcome of the project.
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