How Much Does a General Contractor Cost Per Hour?
It’s relatively easy to price out what the materials for a kitchen remodel will cost – you can go online, look at the kind of items you’d like, and add it all up. One of the biggest costs you need to factor in, however, is the cost of your contractor(s).
Figuring out what a contractor will charge for the renovation work, and how much you should be paying, is not easy.
It varies hugely depending on the contractor’s expertise, experience, the area you live in, and your project. So, what should you be paying, what kind of contractor should you hire, and is it worth it to hire a GC for a remodel? Read on to learn more.
What’s the difference between a contractor and a general contractor?
A “contractor” is usually an independent contractor, which means they are self-employed and hired to perform a certain task. A “general” contractor is usually an experienced contractor who has employees, or manages subcontractors (independent contractors) to complete a larger project.
Unless you hire a project manager, the general contractor (GC) will act as the project manager to keep subcontractors on track, ensure the project stays on budget and on time, make sure you have the necessary permits, source materials, and so on.
How do you price a contract job?
Contractors are business people, so they’ll choose a pricing structure that they believe best suits their business and their clients. Don’t forget that their pricing will include not only their time, but their experience, the cost of buying and using their equipment, other overheads such as vans and offices, insurance, profit, and their own salaries. There are three ways contractors usually price renovation jobs:
· Materials + Time: They’ll charge you for the cost of the materials and then charge by the hour, for how long the job takes. If you’re being charged this way, make sure you have a 10-20% buffer of savings in case any unforeseen issues prolong the project. You can also ask your contractor if they have anything worked into their contract that prevents the job from costing too much, unexpectedly.
· Fixed Fee: This is often beneficial for the homeowner, but you should be wary of this pricing structure, especially with inexperienced contractors. If you consider a fixed fee, make sure the contractor is well-known in the area and has plenty of great testimonials. The issue here is that a contractor may quote and charge you a fee that ends up being too little. While this sounds like good news for your pocket, those who feel underpaid may rush to get a job finished so they don’t lose too much money. This could result in ways to cut corners.
· Cost + Fixed Fee: This pricing structure will include a fixed fee, but has some leeway written into the contract, so there can be additional charges, should an issue come up.
Project & Hourly Costs:
General contractors will usually charge around 10% - 20% of your total project cost, which is the cost + fixed fee model we talked about above.
General contractors rarely charge an hourly rate. Independent contractors may charge an hourly rate, though if they do, it will typically be between $50 to $150 per hour (depending on your location and market).
A general contractor costs an average of $4K to $20K, but costs can vary anywhere from $250 to $58,000 depending on the scope of the project, the size of the home and the cost of labor in your area
If you have an idea of how much the materials for your project will cost, add on another 20% and you’ll likely have an idea of what contractors will charge you. Don’t forget that you can always ask a contractor to talk you through how they price their projects if you aren’t sure.
Is hiring a contractor worth it?
Unless you are very, very handy at DIY, a good contractor is worth their weight in gold.
The more complex the project, the more worth it a contractor is. You can likely learn to do some areas of home improvement yourself, such as laying vinyl flooring, but the more complex jobs (especially in the bathroom or kitchen!) should be left to the professionals.
Is it more expensive to hire a contractor?
DIYing a job is going to be cheaper on paper when you look at the numbers than if you hired a professional. You’re not just paying for their time, but also for their years of skill and experience.
However, you should also keep in mind that your own time is valuable, and you can easily make mistakes that are costly or errors that will give you a less-than-perfect finish. Are you prepared to spend days, weeks, or even months using your spare time to complete a renovation? And then to correct your mistakes? If not, a contractor will be more cost-effective.
A general contractor will generally cost you from $20,000 - $40,000 for a kitchen remodel, though that likely won’t include things like moving appliances, removing walls, rebuilding walls, and so on. These are general estimates and will vary greatly depending on the size of your home and your geographic location.
Is it cheaper to be your own general contractor?
As we touched on above, it’s rarely in your best interest to be your own general contractor, especially if you plan to manage independent contractors. Unless you work within the industry, you’re always going to find it more difficult, and climbing that steep learning curve often just isn’t worth it!
Why do contractors get paid so much?
Contractors are skilled tradespeople – they have often spent time as an apprentice to learn their trades and put in thousands of hours of practice.
They not only know how to do the job, but can problem-solve, do it well, and do it quickly.
The more skilled and experienced the contractor, the more they get paid and the more they can charge. You’ve also got to consider that they are adding value to someone’s (very big) asset, so it’s in a property owner’s best interest to find a great contractor.
How much do contractors mark up materials?
This depends on their fee structure, but generally, a contractor will add 7.5% - 20% to the cost of your materials. You can ask your contractor about any markup, bearing in mind that they can access trade discounts that you cannot
Is it cheaper to employ or contract a general contractor?
It’s always going to be cheaper to contract. Employing people comes with a whole host of administrative tasks, and should only be considered if you want to keep a staff member on full-time to work in a general contractor’s business. In speaking to residential projects only, you’re likely going to want to contract a GC.
How do I protect myself when hiring a contractor?
When you first start to look for a contractor, make sure you learn about any licenses, insurances, or certifications your contractor should have in your area. There are often listing services that check contractors and hold them to a certain standard, so do your research and find out if there are any trade standards in your area, too.
The next thing you should do is make sure there is a solid contract in place that you have read through in its entirety. Make sure you have asked the contractor to explain if there is anything you do not understand.
If you are going to be spending a lot of money, it may be worth running it by a lawyer to ensure there aren’t any clauses that may come back to bite you if things don’t work out.
Another way to ensure your safety when hiring a contractor is to work through a kitchen design company.
At Skipp, our customers benefit from not only being able to work with top kitchen designers, but will also have access to our vetted contractors at up to 40% less cost if they worked with external-network contractors.
Take the next step to find out more about how to work with Skipp on your next kitchen renovation or remodel.
Should you pay a contractor before work is done?
Most contractors will ask for a deposit when you book your project.
If the contractor you want to work with is well-known in your area, they may request the payment up front for a small job, but most will likely break the payments down into milestones.
If a contractor you want to work with asks for up-front payment, and this is not something you are comfortable with, ask them if they have any flexibility. They may be happy to offer you a plan to pay 30%-50% up front and pay the rest each month, until the project is finished. If you have a strong contract, you won’t have to worry.
Working with a contractor is the best way to upgrade your home and get that premium finish you’re looking for, without having to invest the time to learn how to do it yourself. Paying a good professional to take care of a task for you is always worth it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t possible pitfalls. Always vet your contractors, have a contract, or work with a reputable company like Skipp, which can manage your contractors for you.
Our customers don’t have to worry about hiring shady contractors, because we only work with our vetted partners who are experienced and trustworthy contractors.
If you’re planning your kitchen renovation or remodel, we at Skipp are here to help. We can deliver your dream kitchen in 4 steps, fully tailoring every aspect of your kitchen design to your preferences, needs, and budget.
Get that kitchen you’ve been dreaming of, by starting your Skipp renovation today.