Why hire a general contractor when you can do it yourself?

Why wouldn’t someone just visit the “big box stores” and get some general advice, buy the tools and the material, and go ‘whip-it-out’ like on HGTV?  Well, if you have moderate skills, with hand tools, understand math, sizing, proportions, on-centers, aesthetics,  perhaps some structural elements – no problem!  Oh yes, I forgot to mention, you might need a month of weekends to complete your project.  For example, my daughter and son-in-law decided they wanted new laminate flooring in their family room in lieu of carpet at their home in Woodbridge, Virginia.  They did just what most ‘do-it-yourselfers’ would do – they went to the big box store, spoke with a flooring representative, bought the materials, and knew Dad had the tools to do the job.  When my son-in-law explained to me and my partner David what he was looking to do, we had a few questions.  At the end of that brief 5-minute conversation, it was determined that it would be a good idea that Dad went by and did all the layout, all the math, checked for appropriate materials, and bring much better tools (along with his 30-some years of construction experience) to help with the job.  We completed the floor in about 7 hours (all 3 of us).  That was on New Year’s Day.  I believe they’d still be working if I hadn’t been there.  My daughter told me she was amazed at how complicated the project actually was, and she couldn’t have completed the jobwithout help.

Flooring is relatively simple when it comes to construction projects.  Imagine trying to renovate a kitchen, remodel a master bath, or add a sunroom or deck.  These projects are far more involved because they include many trades (such as concrete, carpentry, drywall, electrical, plumbing, and duct work).  Not to mention, floors and other finishes (windows, doors, paint, hardware, exterior trim, etc.)  The answer to the initial question really boils down to:  do you have good basic skills, tools, or friends and family that have worked in the construction trade that you’re attempting?  If the answer is “no,” you need a general contractor!