What Your Contractor Can't Tell You: The Essential Guide to Building and Renovating

Author: Amy Johnston


by specialist   2017-11-24
I had two bad experiences hiring contractors. I eventually decided that I could make my own mistakes, cheaper, and actually learn something in the process.

First step is to read What Your Contractor Won't Tell You [WYCWTY] https://www.amazon.com/What-Your-Contractor-Cant-Tell/dp/097... I wish I had this book before I started. Practical advice from a person who has remodeled 100s of houses. With checklists of things I didn't even know to ask about. I now buy this book for everyone I know thinking of having some work done.

By analogy, WYCWTY is like the Rapid Development and Code Complete type books. It covers that middle gray area between code construction and project & product management. Practical methodology, if you will.

Next, buy every book, watch every video. The best construction books (for me) come from Journal of Light Construction. Their field guides are spendy, so I snagged them thru camelcamelcamel. Also buy some fairly recent code books. Just keep reading, watching, experimenting until understanding.

Next, find local tradesmen who are willing to do side work. There are a lot of very qualified people who are happy to do spot work for cash. For the people I hire, I'm their gopher, cleaner, extra pair of hands. They're taking time away from their families, so I try to make it as painless as possible for them to help me.

Yes, the videos are great. But I've learned more from watching and helping. Two recent examples. #1 I had my guy rehang a new door. OMG. When I tried it myself, I had done everything wrong. This pro rehung the door faster and more true than I would have ever figured out on my own. I have 3 more doors to hang and now I know I'll get it right. #2 I also had a pro come in and hang then mud drywall. OMG. I had done everything wrong. This guy had some many tricks of the trade. Despite reading the books and watching the videos, I had never seen drywall hung before. I totally made a hash of it.

Lastly, buy all the tools, same ones contractors use. For example, I had lot of framing to do, so I bought a Hitachi nailer, the recommended compressor, etc. Now when a tradesmen shows up, I have the proper tools (makes everything easier). Plus, when I finish my remodel, I know I can get most of my money back. Overall, cheaper than renting or buying non-pro gear.

You'll waste a lot of time and money doing things yourself. But if you've got the stomach for it, I think you'll come out ahead. Teach a man to fish and all that.