If you follow our blog, you know the news. Scott and I bought a building. The joy was immediately followed by sticker shock and depression. We’ve rebounded from that and as the next part of our journey into office ownership, we’ve decided to do our own General Contracting. No problem, right? Scott has years of experience on one side of construction. I have a good “death stare,” organizational skills, a tight grasp on the purse strings, and flexibility with where I can do my work. Well, we barely scratched the surface of this adventure and I’m going to say it’s not for the fainthearted.
To date, Scott and I have met with a series of subcontractors. Scott knows most of them and I sometimes go along for the ride. I take some notes and maybe ask a few questions. My favorite meeting was with a guy that kept his back to me and only addressed Scott. Someone doesn’t know my veto power. One person wanted to bid ala carte, couldn’t get us a price for more than 2 weeks and didn’t want to start before 2019. I especially liked that he didn’t want to cut the hole in the floor for the new stairs. Now, I’m no expert, but how hard can it be? Draw a square on the wood floor upstairs, get a large saw and follow the line. I think the hardest part is making sure you’re not pulling a Wile E. Coyote by standing on the part you’re cutting.
When we aren’t meeting with contractors, we are dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy. We applied for and received a grant from the Invest Hagerstown program. This is huge for us because even with the revised design, things are still pricey. We submitted our application for permits through the Historic District Commission (HDC). Being new to this, I wasn’t prepared for the initial recommendation to be something different than what we submitted with an unknown price tag. I swore a lot. Scott told me I wasn’t allowed to go to the actual meeting, just in case I couldn’t keep it in check. Fortunately, I have a good architect, who did some research and made some changes that were satisfactory for both us and the HDC. Win, win!
I’ve yet to really dive into my new general contracting career, but I’ve learned a few things. Hire good people, keep your cool, and schedule the wine delivery early.