We’ve all been there: your toilet’s clogged, your car battery’s dead, and you have no idea how to fix it. Where do you go?
Google, of course.
Internet sources like DIY blogs and YouTube have empowered consumers to do all sorts of tasks that originally required calling a pro. In fact, Americans watched over 100 million hours of YouTube how-to videos by 2015.
The problem is, these resources have empowered DIY-ers to forgo the professionals when they’re actually important. One of these important resources is a general contractor. We’re happy to work alongside both DIY homeowners and general contractors, but here, we’ll outline how and why we believe that the general contractor benefits YOU, the homeowner who’s considering a DIY project. Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, building a custom shower in your dream bathroom, or doing new construction on a home addition, a general contractor is ideal for these types of complicated projects.
A general contractor saves you time and money.
The top reason homeowners forgo the general contractor and manage the project themselves is to save money. A general contractor charges either a flat fee or a percentage of your total project, so managing all the individual components yourself could, in theory, save you money. However, unexpected challenges should be expected in any large project. You should expect it to take longer and cost more than what YouTube says.
A general contractor can orchestrate individual subcontractors most efficiently, and is responsible for the quality.
The general contractor has a vetted, qualified list of electricians, plumbers, carpenters and landscapers. Before he or she is hired, a seasoned general contractor has already invested dozens of hours into ensuring that every person entering your home uses high quality products and does high quality work. As a first-time project manager, you can’t be confident of quality and skill if you’re hiring a subcontractor for the very first time. A general contractor can also get an individual trade, such as plumbing or electric, into your home more quickly.
In a good economy where tradespeople are in high demand, those subcontractors can pick and choose the best opportunities like any other successful business. When given the option, we’ve found that the trades choose the contractor jobs over working with DIY homeowners. As a result, you can get a better electrician or plumber into your home through a contractor.
Why? A good general contractor sends blueprints with detailed measurements. Whether remodeling a kitchen or building a new kitchen from scratch, subcontractors such as plumbers can actually come into a home without previously seeing the space and go straight to work. The contractor already saved the tradesperson hours of (billable) work, saving you the expense of their time. With a DIY homeowner, a plumber needs to do a home visit and take measurements first. Where a new job through a general contractor might have a turnaround time (from initial call to completed job) of two or three weeks, an average turnaround time with a DIY homeowner takes two months or more!
That’s not the only way that the general contractor can minimize the billable hours of subcontractor work. As a DIY contractor, you’ll have to go to Google for the order of project steps. Generally, there’s an accepted order of who comes and installs when. Foundation, framing, electric, plumbing, drywall, right? A general contractor already knows the best order, and it may vary on a case-by-case basis. He or she will know how to minimize the billable hours and avoid any downtime. If your DIY project gets off schedule and the electrician comes in on the same day as the drywaller and the plumber, someone has to stand around and wait. You’ll get billed for those waiting hours, cutting into your DIY savings.
A general contractor protects you from building code violations, warranty violations, and damages that cost you money.
For starters, if a less-than-reputable subcontractor throws an old toilet out the window, misses the trash bin, and hits your neighbor’s car, the general contractor assumes liability for the damage. If you are the general contractor, you’re liable for that damage. Additionally, if a subcontractor is injured on the job and you’re the general contractor, you could also be responsible for his healthcare costs. Suddenly, you’re not saving much money by doing this project alone.
Building codes and product warranties are a complex, ever-changing area of expertise. Work that isn’t done up to code can result in fines, difficulty getting future building permits or construction loans, and even problems with home resale. A general contractor is always aware of current building code, and will assume the responsibility and costs if any of the subcontractors do a sub-par job.
General contractors also will ensure that work done doesn’t nullify any product warranties. Most of our high end bathroom and kitchen products come with warranties, because no brand-new toilet should stop working after a year. However, if you do some of the work yourself or hire out an inexperienced contractor to do the tiles or drywall, an innocent mistake can nullify your warranty. If that product malfunctions, the replacement can only come out of your pocket.
How do I find a good general contractor?
We value our DIY homeowner clients and are happy to work with you personally to meet your needs. In fact, we’ll come out and offer an estimate for free. But for the reasons above, we’ve found that projects go faster and smoother for homeowners who use a general contractor.
Because our company values are based on trust and quality, we have relationships with some of the best-rated, reputable general contractors in our area. If you’d like a general contractor with the Kegonsa seal of approval, reach out to us. We’ll help you find someone that will work perfectly for your unique project.
January is infamous for New Year’s resolutions. From weight loss and healthier eating to job promotions and world travel, it seems people create resolutions for everything but the kitchen sink! If you’re considering a kitchen remodel this year, or you’re building a new home, you may be setting time-related resolutions in the New Year for your build job. Soon, you’ll be shopping around for household appliances of all kinds and picking out a new tile backsplash. But don’t forget the kitchen sink.
Kitchen sinks aren’t usually the most expensive part of your investment, so they’re frequently overlooked or selected at the last second. They’re pretty expensive to remove and replace, though, even if the sink itself is affordable. There are two things to consider in order to make sure you’re choosing the right sink the first time: how will you (or the plumber) install it, and what is it made of?
What type of mounting style should I choose for my kitchen?
A mounting style is simply the technique the plumber uses to install your sink. Most homeowners base this decision around the overall appearance and ease of cleaning, but there are a couple other features to keep in mind when deciding.
The simplest and most straightforward installation in new kitchens is a drop-in sink. A hole is cut in the countertop, and the sink is lowered into the opening and sealed. Drop-ins are advantageous because they will work with any countertop and tend to be more affordable sinks (both to purchase and install).However, they tend to be more difficult to clean — food can be caught between the lip and the counter.
Farmhouse sinks, also called apron sinks, rest on the very front of the cabinet; there is no counter surface at the front of the sink. Many homeowners prefer this exposed-front style because you can easily reach into the sink without worrying about water pooling on the counter and running over the edge as you wash dishes. Keep in mind that farmhouse sinks require reinforced, custom cabinetry, as the heavy sink is installed right over the top.
Undermount sinks are one of the more popular styles of sink installation. The sink is attached to the underside of the countertop using a high strength epoxy, so there is no lip on the edge of the sink — water and crumbs can be wiped easily into the sink. Homeowners choose this style for its sleek look and because it is easy to clean. The main drawback is that it becomes more difficult to replace your sink in the future, as the entire countertop has to be removed.
What’s the best material for kitchen sinks?
Not all sinks are created equal. When considering what your future sink is made of, think of what’s most important to you — is an easily cleaned sink more important than one that matches the counters? Will scratches and wear-and-tear marks bother you? Some homeowners are very particular about the kitchen sink material, while others want the sink that gets them the most bang for their buck.
Stainless steel is a popular, affordable choice in comparison to the other materials used for kitchen sinks. Stainless steel is heat and stain resistant, so you can throw hot pots and acidic liquids like red wine into the sink without worrying. Stainless steel is also a nice choice for a sink if you’re choosing stainless steel appliances, as more of your kitchen will utilize the material already. The only warning about stainless steel is that it’s very prone to scratch marks. Avoid a mirror finish stainless steel; a brushed steel will help hide minor scratches much more effectively.
Stone sinks tend to be the most expensive option available, and for good reason. Composite granite, like the photo, won’t show scratches and marks theway stainless steel will. Stone is very durable and comes in a wide variety of color options. If you are building your kitchen from scratch, you should consider a sink made of the same stone as your countertop for a sleek, seamless look. There’s only one caution for stone sinks — inspect it before it’s installed. While a massive stone sink is nearly indestructible once installed, it is at risk for damage during transit.
Porcelain or fireclay sinks are a must for all-white kitchens. They’re similarly priced to stainless steel, and are very water-resistant and easy to clean. Unfortunately, these types of sinks are not friendly to a dropped pot. They tend to chip over time, but can be repaired professionally or with a DIY hardware store kit. A fireclay or porcelain sink will be very heavy, so be sure to check with your builder and make sure that the countertop can support the weight. Porcelain also will have the widest variety of color choices, ensuring your kitchen can look one-of-a-kind.
Do you have a kitchen remodel in mind for this year? We can help you find options that fit your budget, style and function, so that your kitchen is beautiful to see and easy to use. Give us a call today, or send us a message on our website.
Despite vibrant summer seasons, Wisconsin is undoubtedly a state with icy winters. Madison-area locals know that when cold weather comes, it’s time to salt the sidewalks, swap our current wheels for snow tires, and keep a set of warm clothes in the backseat.
We know how to protect our vehicles and keep ourselves warm, but when it comes to protecting our home’s pipes, many folks struggle with winter-proofing. And if your home’s pipes aren’t winter-proofed correctly, it can result in some pretty expensive repairs come springtime. After all, if a burst pipe results in water damage, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 to replace flooring and repair the damage.
To help you save time, money, and headaches, be sure to winter-proof your home’s interior and exterior pipes with these top tips.
1. Winter-proof your home’s outdoor hose bibbs.
Pipes on the exterior of the house will freeze and burst most often because they aren’t insulated by the home’s heat. However, if there isn’t flooding, most homeowners won’t even realize that a hose bibb or exterior pipe has burst until the spring. As such, every spring we make a lot of home calls to replace hose bibbs.
To winter-proof your home’s outdoor hose bibbs and avoid the need to make expensive repairs in the year to come, follow these steps:
- Remove the hoses from the bibb and straighten them in a long line on the ground. Pick up the hose from the middle and lift it up to shoulder height, allowing any water to flow down and out. Make sure that the inside and outside of the hose is dry, before storing in a dry space.
- Remove any splitters or other attachments from the hose bibb to ensure proper drainage. There should be no removable pieces remaining where water could leak in between, as this can cause ice to crack the attachments.
- Inside your home, close the valve that supplies water to the outdoor pipes. This will most likely be in the basement. If you’re struggling to find it, a quick Google search of your water system’s name will help you find it.
- Last, open the outside valve so that the water can drain completely. We recommend leaving the outside valve open throughout winter, or at least for a few days, so that any water left behind has room to expand if it freezes.
Basically, by removing your hoses, draining them, and shutting off the hose bibbs, you remove any water that would otherwise be in the pipes. So, when the weather gets cold and water expands, it won’t cause your exterior pipes to burst.
2. Install frost-free hose bibbs, if you don’t have a separate valve for outside faucets.
Some homes don’t have a separate valve for outside faucets. If your home doesn’t have this separate valve, you will need to install a frost-free hose bibb before the winter freeze sets in. Installing a frost-free hose bibb involves replacing your old spigot entirely and running the new frost-free pipe inside the house. The pipe running into your home must then be attached to a water valve.
Essentially, installing a frost-free hose bibb adds a water supply valve to the outside of the home, enabling you to cut off the water supply to the exterior pipes. This process will involve some plumbing skills and caulking, and may potentially require soldering, so be sure to check with an expert if you’re having trouble cutting off the outside water supply yourself.
3. Winter-proof your home’s interior pipes.
Pipes inside your home are at risk for freezing and bursting, too, especially if they’re located in unheated or poorly insulated areas. Most commonly, these areas include attics, garages, basements, and even cabinets. Pipes that run alongside exteriors walls are also at risk.
If you have any water supply lines in the garage of your home, keep the garage door closed to prevent any water supply lines inside from freezing. For pipes in a basement floor or foundation, seal windows with removable caulk or shrink plastic to improve the insulation in your basement. Most local hardware stores offer Styrofoam, tape, or cloth pipe coverings to insulate exposed pipes. On average, you can pay as little as 50 cents per linear foot for efficient pipe insulation.
A handful of preventative steps now can save you hundreds of dollars in water damage this winter. If you suspect that any of your pipes might be frozen, give us a call right away. Our team will give you a visit and seek to understand the situation fully before recommending the best solution for your home.