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Don’t Try to DIY: When to Hire a General Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project

August 25th, 2022 |

You’d like to update and upgrade your investment property, but you also want to save time and money. Doing the project yourself may seem like a good idea, but there are many reasons for hiring a general contractor. Read on to learn why professional general contracting experience is necessary for renovation projects.

 Saves You Time

A home improvement project can quickly eat up your time if you do the project yourself. Think of the hours it takes to hire and oversee subcontractors, buy supplies and apply for permits. If you DIY the project, you’ll have to take time away from your family, your free time, and even your job. Plus, there can be unpleasant surprises like realizing you ordered materials too late.

A general contractor, however, works full-time on construction projects. With years of experience, they are familiar with the workflow of a renovation project and know how to use time efficiently. They know when to order materials and when to obtain permits. They have learned how much lead time to allow when scheduling subcontractors for project phases. General contractors earn their living working on projects like yours so that you have time for things that are important to you. 

Saves You Money

Hiring a general contractor is less expensive overall that doing the work yourself. A general contractor typically has developed relationships with a network of suppliers, subcontractors and other professionals. The result is the ability to negotiate discounted prices that would otherwise not be available to you. 

For example, you would probably buy materials for your renovation project at a local home improvement store or lumberyard. You would buy the quantity you need for your project and pay the usual retail price. On the other hand, a general contractor could buy materials in bulk for several projects and pay a discounted price. 

At first, DIY may seem like a way to cut down on expenses. When you factor in a professional’s ability to buy in bulk and get discounts, hiring a general contractor saves you money. Even cosmetic work, such as interior painting, can be more expensive when you DIY because you’ll pay full price for supplies. 

Less Risk

Some renovation tasks are dangerous and must be left to licensed professionals. Improper electrical installation, for example, can result in a serious injury or fire. Incorrectly installed plumbing can lead to costly property damage. Qualified professionals know how to complete the work safely and ensure the result is up to building code standards.  

Work that should be left to professional contractors include 

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing 
  • Supporting wall removal
  • HVAC  
  • Roofing
  • Siding
  • Foundation  

Licensed professionals also know the best risk management practices and must carry insurance. If you do the work yourself, you may not know the safest way to complete the task. You could end up with costly property damage or injuries to yourself or others. 

Hiring a general contractor is the first step in a successful renovation project. The professionals at RH Blanchard have the general contracting experience you can trust. Get in touch today so we can help you get started.

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A Guide to Pre-Construction Services

April 21st, 2022 |

Pre-construction services help ensure that your renovation project stays on budget and on schedule. From creating a building model to estimating costs, important work must be done before construction begins. If you are planning to update your investment property, a construction manager can coordinate pre-construction services. 

Analyzing Existing Conditions  

Before any renovation work begins, the condition of the existing structure should be analyzed. Material strength, structural integrity, piping, and other elements must be considered. This pre-construction service is essential for determining the extent of work that is needed for the remodel, as well as avoiding costly surprises. 

Building Model 

Software can be used to create a 3-D model that can help you visualize the completed project. Building information modeling (BIM) software can simulate every phase of the project lifecycle. This technology is a helpful tool for making decisions about design, construction, electrical and plumbing systems, and other factors. BIM can help stakeholders foresee potential issues before they become costly problems.

Cost Estimate

 The cost estimate is based on how much the completed renovation project will cost, as well as issues that may come up during the project. It’s a good idea to get two or three estimates for your project. Items that go into the cost estimate include: 

  • Labor
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Subcontractors 
  • Permits

It’s important to have a skilled and experienced estimator create the cost estimate. They will know which relevant factors to consider, such as market conditions, when figuring the estimate.  

Scheduling and Logistics

Scheduling a construction project involves a wide range of logistical considerations and is one of the most complex pre-construction services. It’s important to have an experienced construction manager on your team to develop a project timeline. Bid releases, permits, meetings, and inspections are just some of the elements that must be coordinated. It is especially important to factor in the permit application process, which must go through the proper federal, state, and local agencies. 

Bid Packaging

At this stage, bids will be developed based on the scope of the project. The construction manager will make sure that all contractors, subcontractors, and vendors have accurate information about the project. Factors such as existing site conditions, design variables, and project timeline are important considerations when developing a bid. The construction manager will review bids with you for your approval.

Material and Labor Procurement  

Obtaining the necessary materials and hiring skilled subcontractors is a crucial pre-construction service. A construction manager must be knowledgeable about building materials and prices and must have a readily accessible network of construction professionals and subcontractors. They should have a well-vetted list of suppliers and professionals with proven reliability. The goal of this pre-construction service is to obtain the best quality possible within the project budget.

Hire Experienced Construction Professionals  

Your investment property deserves top-quality workmanship, from pre-construction services to project completion. At RH Blanchard, our team has more than a decade of experience in general contracting and project management. If you’re ready to update your Boston-area investment property, get in touch today for a free quote.

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What to Look for in Your General Contractor Agreement

August 11th, 2021 |

When it’s time to begin a construction project, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. From payments to materials, it’s best to get the general contracting details in writing. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know what to look for in a general contractor agreement.

Types of Contracts

The format of your contract will depend on personal preference and project details. There are four types of construction contracts:

  • Fixed-price or lump sum for the entire project 
  • Cost-plus, which includes cost of materials plus labor
  • Time and material, with an hourly or daily fee
  • Unit-pricing, often used for bidding on government projects

Clear Language  

A contract may be a legal document, but it need not contain complex legal jargon. The language should be clear and easy to read. The only requirement is that you and the general contractor understand and agree on the expectations that are set out in the agreement. 

Licensing and Insurance

Each state has certain licensing requirements for general contractors. For specialized work, such as plumbing, additional requirements may apply. Make sure that your agreement includes contractor license numbers. In the Boston area, you can verify a contractor’s license with the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards.  

A reputable general contractor will carry liability and workman’s compensation insurance to cover injury and property damage. A general contractor agreement should provide detailed information about insurance policies. 

Project Description and Timeframe

Whether it’s a complex remodel or a straightforward kitchen counter replacement, you’ll want to get every step in writing. Details should include  

  • Removals and demolitions
  • Installations
  • Finishing work
  • Cost and quantity of materials 
  • Additional cost coverage for mistakes by subcontractors
  • Worker access to bathrooms, refrigerator and other facilities 
  • How and when workers will clean up the project site

You and your contractor must also agree on the timeframe of the project. The start date and estimated length of time for the project should be in writing to keep the contractors accountable to you. 

Payment Schedule

To avoid billing disputes, make sure that the payment schedule is clearly outlined in the agreement. Some contractors ask for half the total payment before the start date. Others tie the payment schedule to project milestones. Never make a payment in full before project completion. 

Lien Waivers and Warranties

To ensure that you make payments on time, a contractor may place a builder’s lien on your property at the start of the project. As each subcontractor completes their work, they should give you a signed waiver releasing their claim on your property. Your agreement should include a provision for obtaining these lien waivers. 

A general contractor should offer a warranty that covers certain defects in completed work. Make sure that the agreement explains which defects are covered and how long they are covered. 

Hire Experienced Professionals

For more than a decade, RH Blanchard has provided general contracting services to Boston-area property owners. Our priority is to complete your project on time and on budget. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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Construction Management 101: A Complete Guide

June 9th, 2021 |

You’re ready to begin a construction project, and you’re probably wondering how much it will cost and how long it will take. A construction management professional will handle those details and more. They will be in your corner during the entire project, whether it’s a bathroom remodel in your home or extensive upgrades to your rental property. 

Hiring and Coordinating Contractors and Subcontractors 

Construction projects involve multiple contractors and subcontractors, from architect to plumbers. Hiring and scheduling these professionals takes knowledge and experience — not to mention time! You can rely on your construction manager to hire and coordinate skilled professionals.


With so many contractors and subcontractors working on your project, someone has to keep track of all those phone messages and emails. A construction manager coordinates communication among the owner, professionals and specialists during a project. All stakeholders receive updates on cost, quality and timelines, as well as any unexpected issues.

Contract Compliance 

When you sign that project contract, you expect compliance with all provisions. Contracts cover a variety of matters, including design, materials procurement and project duration. A construction management professional will ensure that the project meets all contract provisions. 

Budget and Timetable Management 

All construction projects involve extensive number crunching and scheduling. A construction manager has the necessary training and experience for setting a budget and timetable. They will consult with you, the architect and contractors to develop a detailed budget and schedule. The construction manager’s job is to keep the project on budget and on time. 

Quality Control

When you hire a construction manager, they’ll make sure that all work meets the highest standards. Best of all, you won’t have to spend hours at the project site monitoring specialists and contractors. You’ll rest easy, knowing that workers are fulfilling your contract without cutting corners. 

Safety Management  

Every construction project should make safety a priority. The last thing you want is a preventable accident or injury at the project site. With a construction manager on the job, you don’t have to research safety codes or best practices. This knowledgeable professional will make sure that workers are meeting safety standards.  

Hire a Qualified Construction Manager

You’re ready to move forward with that remodel, but how do you find a qualified construction manager? Many states, including Massachusetts, require construction managers to possess a professional license. A license confirms that an individual has the necessary knowledge and experience for the job.

In Massachusetts, an individual must obtain a construction supervisor’s license (CSL) before they can work as a construction manager. Before they can take the licensing exam, they must be at least 18 years old and have three years of industry work experience. After they obtain their license, they must take continuing education courses in order to renew their license every two years. 

RH Blanchard has been providing quality remodeling and renovation services in the Boston area since 2007. Our construction management professionals ensure that the client always comes first. Contact us today for a free quote.

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What’s the Difference Between General Contractors and Subcontractors?

May 6th, 2021 |

There is dilemma in every construction project on whether to hire a general contractor or a subcontractor. They both help in resource coordination and communication, both of which are vital to a project’s success. Yet, there are differences in the roles that they play in a project. Here are some insights to help you understand the difference between general contractors and subcontractors, so you can make an informed decision for your project.

Who is a General Contractor?

A general contractor, also known as a prime contractor or an Original Contractor, is a group, corporation, or individual who conducts work under a contract and has a direct agreement with the home or property owner. In most construction contracts, we refer to them as the contractor. A contractor will employ subcontractors to complete particular subtasks and hire suppliers to provide building materials.

Who is a Subcontractor?

A subcontractor is a company or a person who provides services that do not have a direct contract with the home or property owner. 

Carpenters, plumbers, and electricians are typical subcontractors on residential construction projects. They are frequently self-employed or small business owners who specialize in a specific construction niche. In construction, they are called “subs”.

They contribute to the overall project by doing a portion of the work. As a result, subs also help reduce project risks by bringing onboard skills that the general contractor may lack.

Difference Between General Contractors and Subcontractors

  • General contractors are employed directly by the property owner. As for subcontractors, another party may hire them instead of the property owner. 
  • The prime contractor often employs subcontractors, but a subcontractor may also hire another subcontractor.
  • A general contractor’s main job is to find and have the requisite coordination and supervision tasks to ensure that the project progresses according to budget and schedule. A subcontractor’s job is to execute the smaller goals for the larger scale design.
  • General contractors handle day-to-day oversight; organize suppliers and subcontractors, while subcontractors’ job is more narrowly oriented since they are professionals qualified in a particular trade such as roofing and plumbing.
  • Because of their experience, subcontractors are consistently good at product and service delivery, so they know what products they need and where to get them, which helps general contractors minimize risks and lower project costs.

The construction industry is becoming more specialized with time. Back then, a single contractor would handle a wide range of tasks and manage the whole project from start to finish. Today, these contractors are more likely to employ someone to do specialized work for them, and this is where subcontractors come in. Feel free to contact us at R.H. Blanchard for more support from our experts.

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How to Hire a Construction Contractor

November 7th, 2019 |

Your home is probably your most valuable asset, and you’d not want poor quality construction details. Choosing a contractor based on the price only increases the chances of project failure and may result in significant costs in the long run. That’s why you should do your due diligence before engaging a contractor. Fortunately, there are many experienced construction contractors available.

All you need is to seek referrals and interview the potential hires for you to find the right one. Ensure that you sign a detailed contract before the work begins, and regularly inspect the work done. Here are the factors to consider when choosing who to hire for your construction project: (more…)

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3 Kitchen Remodeling Myths Debunked by An Independent Contractor

October 10th, 2019 |

It’s considered common knowledge that if you can only update two rooms in your home, you should update your kitchen and your bathroom. The kitchen serves as the heart and hearth of a home, and a good kitchen remodel can exponentially increase the value of your property. However, just as quickly as you can make money by remodeling your kitchen well, you can lose money if you don’t understand how to remodel your kitchen. In this Q&A, an independent contractor gives you the dish on kitchen remodels, debunking some popular industry myths. (more…)

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5 Considerations When Choosing a Remodeling Contractor

September 26th, 2019 |

Remodeling a home can be extremely rewarding once completed, but in order to get to the final finish line, there will be many decisions to make and challenges to navigate along the way. One of the first decisions, and often the most crucial, is choosing the right remodeling contractors. While there are many options in the Boston area, narrowing it down to one that will be able to provide quality oversight, and finish on time and within budget may be a bit hard.

Here are 5 important factors to consider when choosing. (more…)

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7 Things to Look for in a Boston Contractor

August 8th, 2019 |

When you’re looking to hire a Boston contractor for your next project, you want to be sure that whoever you hire is the right person for the job. Whether it’s a new coat of paint on your bathroom walls or an entire overhaul of your master bedroom, it’s easy to get overwhelmed while renovating your home. A good contractor will make the process as stress-free as possible.

If you’re looking to hire a contractor in Boston, here are some things you should keep in mind.


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Don’t Do It Yourself: Why You Should Hire a Private Contractor

July 11th, 2019 |

From remodeling your bathroom to adding a new edition, home renovation is enticing. But the prospect of the work involved can be daunting. For the average person, home improvement can often seem like an impossible challenge. Yet there are many who take this Herculean task on. These DIY renovations can often end in failed marriages or dangerous not-to-code ‘improvements.’ So what’s the solution? Hire a private contractor. The average person will often shy away from this concept. Yet when it comes to designing and renovating a bathroom, many people aren’t able to finish them. Here are all the reasons why you should hire a private contractor. (more…)

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