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Understanding the Difference: General Contractor vs Construction Manager

January 21st, 2022 |

If you’re thinking about starting a construction project on your investment property, you may be wondering what is a general contractor vs construction manager. A construction manager represents you, the property owner, and is part of your team. A general contractor, on the other hand, wins the job by bidding on your project. Read on for more comparisons between general contracting and construction management.  

Pre-Construction Phase

A general contractor usually is not involved with pre-construction planning. Once the architect has completed the design, the general contractor enters the project and develops a bid package based on the design. Other pre-construction duties include hiring subcontractors and obtaining permits. 

A construction manager is involved from the beginning of the project and often has input into the design process. Like a general contractor, they handle hiring subcontractors for the project. 

Budget and Timeline

General contractors and subcontractors both keep the owner informed about the project budget, timeline, and delays. The general contractor and subcontractors must personally adhere to the schedule, while the construction manager monitors the contractors’ adherence to the schedule. 

A major difference between the professions is the way they are paid. A general contractor is paid based on their bid for the project. If the completed project costs less than the bid, the general contractor keeps the difference. If the project will take longer or cost more than the bid, they must either charge the client more money or change the project specifications. 

A construction manager is paid a flat fee that is usually a percentage of the total cost of the project.  They set and oversee the budget, but unlike a general contractor, they are paid the same amount whether the project goes over or under budget. 

Subcontractors and Site Supervision

Both general contractors and construction managers hire and coordinate subcontractors. One difference, however, is that a general contractor usually has a network of trusted electricians, plumbers, and other subcontractors. Over time, these subcontractors develop a sense of teamwork and cohesiveness. 

A construction manager hires subcontractors, but their immediate team usually consists of project managers, accountants, and other professionals who do not do construction work. The team works at every stage of the project, from design to completion.

General contractors and construction managers may hire supervisors to oversee a construction site. A general contractor implements and oversees job-site safety, while a construction manager oversees the constructors’ adherence to safety procedures and building codes. 

Credentials for General Contractor vs Construction Manager

Qualifications for both professions vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, general contractors and construction managers must obtain a construction supervisor license from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections. Both professions require three years of work experience in building construction and design. Enrollment in a relevant vocational school or college degree program can substitute for some of the job experience.

Although it is not required for a license, a bachelor’s degree in construction management can be an advantage when looking for a job as a construction manager.

At RH Blanchard, we’re the experts when it comes to Boston-area general contracting and project development. Get in touch today for a free consultation.

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Why You Should Consider a Garage Remodel

November 18th, 2021 |

Whether it’s a home office or in-law suite, a garage remodel is a great way to add usable space to your investment property. A converted garage can increase the value of your property by 10 percent or more, with a return on investment (ROI) up to 80 percent. Read on to learn why you should consider remodeling your garage. 

Is a Garage Remodel Right for Your Property?

Before you get started, make sure a garage remodel is right for your property. Consider the following factors: 

  • Do homeowners in your area prefer garage space to outdoor parking? 
  • Can you compensate elsewhere in the home for lost storage space? 
  • How much will permits cost? 
  • Will you need to elevate the ceiling so that is rises 8 feet or more above the floor?
  • How will you address drainage if the garage is lower than the house?

If you decide to move forward, a garage remodel can be a worthwhile investment. 

Home Office

With so many people working at home these days, a home office can be an attractive feature. Requirements for this type of remodel usually include 

  • Insulation 
  • HVAC
  • Painted walls
  • Flooring
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Lighting 
  • Window

You may need to add electrical outlets, but you probably won’t have to install drywall or plumbing. The average cost to convert a garage into office space starts at about $5,000

Living Area

With a few brightly colored rugs, furniture and lighting, you can transform your garage into a cozy living area or family room. You may need to add a window or door as an emergency exit.  The majority of the cost includes  

  • HVAC
  • Flooring
  • Insulation

The average cost to convert a garage to a living area ranges from $5,000 to $22,000.

Extra Bedroom

One of the most popular garage conversions is an extra bedroom or master bedroom suite. A simple bedroom costs about $15,000. The price for a master bedroom and bathroom suite can run as high as $25,000, due to specialized installation work:

  • Plumbing
  • Fixtures
  • Toilet
  • Shower or tub
  • Tile

The extra cost may be worth it, however. Turning your garage into a bedroom can increase your home value up to 20 percent.

Accessory Apartment

Also known as a granny flat or in-law suite, an accessory apartment is the most extensive and costly garage remodel. The project can cost an average of $32,700 to $63,000 and involves extensive work. In addition to the work required for a master bedroom suite, conversion to an accessory apartment includes 

  • Full bath 
  • Kitchenette 
  • Soundproofing for privacy
  • Separate entrance door

An accessory apartment is an attractive feature for many homebuyers, with 20 percent of people in the United States living in multigenerational dwellings. Research shows that more people would pay extra for a home with an accessory apartment than for any other feature.

When you’re ready to convert that garage, don’t leave anything to chance. At RH Blanchard, we have the general contracting experience you need for your Boston-area garage remodel. Contact us today and get 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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