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We are redoing our kitchen, two bathrooms, and a bunch of small stuff (e.g., replacing interior doors) in a house we just purchased.

We have a GC for the kitchen and baths, which are complicated and have lots of moving parts. But for the other stuff, the GC seems like overkill. For instance, his price for replacing our interior doors was about 30% higher than what our handyman would charge.

My inclination is to have the handyman do the "small" stuff and have the contractor stick to the kitchen and bath.

The catch is that, due to the schedule, they'll need to be in there working at the same time. I've talked about this a little with my GC and he seems a little annoyed, which I can understand.

I'm wondering, though, if it's a bad idea to attempt having both sets of work going on at the same time by two sets of people in the same house.

Am I asking for trouble?

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    There was no reason to tell the GC about the handyman quote. There is nothing that contractors hate more than hearing "well this guy does it cheaper." You should have simply said "We cannot afford the quote for interior doors so please just do the kitchen and bath." You can bring in the handyman after the fact. However you've let the proverbial cat out of the bag so now you have an interpersonal issue on your hands instead of a construction issue. – MonkeyZeus Jun 12 '20 at 15:36
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As long as the work areas don't overlap too badly it should be no problem whatsoever. People who do larger renovations, for example house flippers, hire lots of different contractors for different purposes. Serious contractors are used to working on shared projects and have no problem with it.

Just organize the dates and areas to be worked on to not overlap.

I had situations myself where I hired attic cleaners at the same time as plasterers for the living room and a demolition crew for the garage.

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    Make sure the prep areas don't overlap as well. You don't want to end up with an argument when both crews expected to be able to use the driveway and neither brought the carts/dollies needed for schlepping their supplies all the way from the street. – bta Jun 12 '20 at 19:29
  • I don't know. Just for liability issues alone I would be surprised if the GC wouldn't object. Say the handyman damages something, doesn't tell anyone, and when the owner notices they blame the GC. Or, from the owner's perspective, maybe the contractor's workers damage something and, when the owner tries to hold them to it, they blame the handyman and wash their hands of it. From both sides it's a bad deal. – J... Jun 13 '20 at 20:18
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Most US states require general contractors to hold a state-issued license. There are requirements of education, work experience, competency testing, insurance, and bonding to obtain the license. A handyman, on the other hand, is usually unregulated and doesn't face any of those requirements. A contractor may view a handyman as one who is doing contractor-type work but "cheating the system" by dodging all those things the contractor had to satisfy in order to obtain and retain his license.

The contractor is not likely annoyed at the prospect of having extra crews around -- they deal with having multiple trades on a job all the time. Instead, he may begrudge the handyman driving down prices and making it harder for the contractor to pay his overhead. It's not unlike the feelings that a citizen of a country might have toward an immigrant who comes to work at a lower rate of pay than the citizen is willing/able to do.

He might also be annoyed at the reduced scope of work. If you had asked him to bid the kitchen and baths only his price for these may have been higher than what he bid for them in the larger package of work. This makes sense: by having more items in his pool of work he's more likely to keep himself and his crew busy all day every day rather than having to quit early sometimes. The smaller scope of only kitchen and bath is less profitable because he faces the same costs of travel time, insurance, etc each day whether he finds 2, 6, or 10 hours of work ready to be done.

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    I think you nailed it!! – Kris Jun 12 '20 at 17:14
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    I would not consider a contractor to be professional if he let's any annoyance show in his work or behavior with the client. The client is paying money for his services and not to baby his feelings. And obviously there are limits for what kind of tasks handymen would be hired. Hence the OP is hiring a contractor. – user118367 Jun 13 '20 at 8:12
  • @user118367 It isn’t about feelings it is about profitability of a project. Guess what? Contractors bid jobs with the intention of making as much profit as they can. Changing the scope of the project by removing part of the scope may not reduce the contractors expenses at all. But if he says fine let your handy man do xyz but my price remains the same then we will be talking about the feelings of homeowner. – Kris Jun 13 '20 at 12:29
  • @Kris: not all contractors are seeking to maximize profit. Many are happy to earn an honest living and leave it at that. It's true that a contractor may be able to save the customer money on a job if the scope is wider, through economies of scale. But if the customer reduces scope after the fact and this is a problem for the GC, all the GC needs to do is be up front with the customer about that fact. They just explain that the bid provided was for the original scope and it can't be modified piecemeal. That's the professional thing to do. – Peter Duniho Jun 13 '20 at 17:40
  • @PeterDuniho I think we are saying the same thing at the end of the day – Kris Jun 13 '20 at 17:53
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Was your general contractor going to do the work himself or was he going to outsource the work?

I have worked as a GC and I hire a lot of GCs. There are project costs and one-off costs. One-offs are things that are "fixed" that are sitting on their own island. Hanging a new door is a good example (unless you are retrimming the whole house).

This advice might be too late but maybe it helps you in the future or someone else. You should have been very up front with the GC for the one-off stuff. Get a quote, get a quote from the handyman, then figure out how much extra you would pay the GC.

Here is the deal with the GC. He is taking on the liability of material costs and extra labor to do job correctly. So in your example if door is installed wrong, he would ensure it is redone or not paid. If door is damaged during bad install that is on him. I am generalizing here - but if you hire a handyman you are pretty much getting whatever he does. Most will probably be fine... but what if yours isn't? Also why not hire someone from a handyman service so they have liability? Well that service is just a GC and will upcharge - or give you super low quality contractors.

So I think you made a mistake in not having an honest discussion with GC. I am blunt with the GCs and go through similar scenarios all the time. We have 6 extra small jobs. The GC quotes me $1700. I got a side guy that says I will do it for $1000. I tell the GC - "I got a quote for $1000, you are at $1700. I will give you $1250 or it is going to my other guy. I understand you have to make money and don't want to put your guys on jobs that make you less." - Notice I will probably offer my GC about 20% more than my lowest bid. He has more liability. I also have more liability if he doesn't accept - in that you don't want an unhappy GC.

Boom. Done. No animosity. Most of the time the GC will take the work for much lower just to keep his crew busy during issue times (forgot a plumbing part... well the two guys helping can install door while it is sorted). If the GC doesn't take the jobs, he had his chance. Now with handyman on site, you are the GC of the handyman and you basically have to make sure he is out of everyone's way. So for all intents and purposes you should not be leaving handyman alone at house working in the same house as GC for more than 20-30 minutes.

(I don't even leave two different GCs doing completely different work at a house alone for more than a few minutes unless I personally know both parties well.)

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Probably - the GC will have established ways of working and doing things with his team while the handyman will not follow that plan.

If you insist on using your handyman then I would suggest that you put in the contract what the GC is to complete then once that work is done get the handyman to finish the bits you want him to do.

If time is a real constraint then let the GC do the whole package as non-availablity of either GC or handyman could cause delays that will affect you but not be their fault.

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Discuss this with your GC and see if he'll match the price of your handyman. There are advantages to having one person in charge so to speak. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, they could be playing the blame game. Also, take a look at the quality of the work done by the GC. It might be worth it to have him do all the work. How long have you had this handyman?

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I've talked about this a little with my GC and he seems a little annoyed

Of course he does, you're taking profit from his pocket!

which I can understand.

Glad you can see his perspective.

What would the GC do if you were doing the little things like replacing the doors? He'd be annoyed that he wasn't making the profit on it. He might grumble a bit that you're in the way. But, in the end he'd get on with his life and get the job done.

Work with your handyman to ensure he stays out of the GC's way, but run with your plan. It's your house and you're paying the bills. If the GC is a good professional, he'll understand that he's not going to get every job, but he'll still do top quality work on the parts he's paid for because he's got a reputation to protect and he wants a good reference from you. He'll even understand that he'll get bonus points for "works well with others" by not grumbling and complaining about the handyman doing some of the work.

Besides, there are a lot of interior doors that are, I'd imagine, nowhere near the kitchen or baths, so a fair bit of the work the handyman will be doing won't be in the way of or an inconvenience to the GC at all. Other, perhaps, than passing in the hallway when someone is carrying something heavy.

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  • Drive-by downvote. wonder why... – FreeMan Jun 12 '20 at 16:12

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