She Said He Said: Who Should Be the General Contractor?

A columnist (Kathy Price) and a contractor (Bill Robinson) duke it out on questions about remodeling.


QUESTION: My husband and I are planning a big renovation to our
home, including building a new kitchen and family room, remodeling all the
bathrooms, and putting in new windows. I always assumed my husband would act as
general contractor, but now he says he doesn’t want to do it. My dad and two of
my brothers are contractors and they would do it for us, but they live 3,000
miles away. I don’t want some strange contractor taking over my house. How can
I persuade my husband to be the general contractor?

Melanie M.

SHE SAID: I’d try bribery. On a major remodel, say $100,000,
you could save $30,000 with your husband acting as the general contractor.
Start pointing out to him all the guy-type thing he can buy for that kind of
dough–a fishing trip to Mexico, a big-ass television, a Harley-Davidson
motorcycle. Well, don’t go that far. But you get the idea.

HE SAID: Right, he’ll need to spend the money they save
“self” contracting on a trip to the asylum for rehab time. I am
appalled at the simplistic thinking of people who think they can carry out the
responsibilities of a general contractor in their spare time without any prior
experience. Be realistic, Melanie. Let your husband do his job and hire a
contractor to do your remodel.

SHE SAID: Well, I’m appalled at a husband who won’t do this
one thing for his wife. She’d rather talk about the progress of the remodeling
job each day with her husband than some unknown contractor. Melanie probably
thinks this will bring them closer together. Of course, it’s usually the wife
who figures out bonding experiences for her and her man.

HE SAID: Take it from me, Melanie will have much happier
discussions with her hubby during the remodel if he is NOT neck deep in
scheduling subs and signing change orders. A major remodel is very stressful
and time consuming. What does Melanie really want: her husband acting as
general contractor or the feeling that her man is in charge?

SHE SAID: You know, I’m starting to think that maybe
it’s Melanie who has the energy and passion to act as general contractor.

HE SAID: If she’s anything like you, I’m sure she does.

SHE SAID: Sure, if she has the time, she can study up on it,
take classes in how to do it, spend hours on the phone with her family getting
advice. Granted, she’ll make a lot of mistakes, and the remodel might be a
disaster. But it will be her disaster.

HE SAID: Okay. Why not? If she has the time to devote to
orchestrating a major remodel, more power to her. I know plenty of women who
are effective and successful contractors. And it sounds like it’s in her blood.
She can still share the daily events with her husband. And I bet hubby will
gain a new appreciation for Melanie, not to mention the in-laws.

1 Comment on She Said He Said: Who Should Be the General Contractor?

  1. carl heldmann

    Hi KPR,
    Women (and men) should read my entry “Women HomeBuilders”
    ( my website,
    PS. meant to write and tell you I really like your (relatively) new blog!
    Carl Heldmann