The Ultimate Pro and Con List for Hiring General Contractors

There are great benefits to hiring a general contractor for remodeling your kitchen. But there are some disadvantages too.

Your kitchen is the indisputable heart of your home. So when you’re finally ready to embark upon your dream renovation project, naturally, you’ll want the best person for the job. But who should that be: You? A general contractor? Someone else entirely? Should you follow the advice, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself,” or let “You get what you pay for” rule the day? To simplify things, we created the ultimate tool -- a comprehensive list of pros and cons that breaks down everything you need to know about what general contractors do and whether or not it makes sense to hire a pro or become your own general contractor.

How to choose a general contractor for your kitchen remodel project

​What Do General Contractors Do?

Unless you’ve got a few remodelling projects under your belt, this may be the first time you’ve even considered working with a general contractor. In the broadest terms, a general contractor (GC) is equal parts project manager, fixer, traffic cop and accountant. They’re responsible for achieving the big picture vision of your kitchen remodel, as well as keeping tabs on even the smallest details.

Specifically, here’s how that plays out on the job site. During a remodeling project, your GC will:

  • Help you navigate local building code requirements, obtain permits and prepare for local government inspections.
  • Oversee every phase of your kitchen renovation, from planning to demolition, construction, installation and cleanup.
  • Hire, manage and pay subcontractors, such as electricians or plumbers, using the money you’ve paid as part of a general contracting fee.
  • Manage your project’s costs and schedule to ensure it comes in on time and within budget.

Pros and Cons of Being Your Own Contractor

Part of being a budget-conscious homeowner is questioning which projects really require a professional and which ones are better suited to a DIY approach. If you find yourself running through the responsibilities of a GC and thinking, “I could do that,” then it may be worth taking a deeper dive into the benefits and drawbacks of acting as your own general contractor.

The Best Parts of DIY

  • Boosts your budget. Instead of spending money on contractor overhead and profit margins, you can invest that cost savings back into your kitchen remodelling budget.
  • No need to compromise. As the sole decision-maker , you’re calling the shots and have a better chance of getting exactly what you want.
  • Pride of craftsmanship. You can enjoy the immense satisfaction that comes with building your own home.
  • More flexible timeline. You can expedite the timeline or extend it to accommodate priorities as you see fit.
  • Quality control. Even if you don’t have first-hand construction experience, you can hire skilled subcontractors to ensure a high standard of quality. And if a subcontractor isn’t meeting your expectations, you can work it out quickly and directly, instead of leaving it to someone else.
  • Less red tape. State and municipality licenses that are mandatory for general contractors may not be required for homeowners who act as their own GCs. But these requirements vary by location, so be sure to confirm which legal requirements apply to you.

DIY Challenges

  • You’re on your own. If something goes wrong, it’s up to you to fix it, pay for it, manage it or reschedule it. That degree of responsibility and stress (especially on a larger project) can be overwhelming.
  • Overcommitting or underestimating. If you’re new to projects of this scope, it’s very easy to bite off more than you can chew. You may soon find that the job requires much more than you expected...more time, more energy, more budget, more materials.
  • Quality and cost concerns. Because you lack experience, the overall quality of the project could suffer. You might even need to hire a professional to fix expensive mistakes or redo the work to bring it up to code.
  • Unexpected surprises. Every GC will tell you to expect the unexpected. If you don’t even know what to watch out for, unanticipated expenses or delays could sink your entire project.
  • It’s a 24/7 commitment. Managing subcontractors, ordering materials, scheduling deliveries, obtaining permits and arranging inspections can feel like a full-time job. That can be hard if you’re also trying to hold down your “normal” job at the same time.
  • Insurance liability. If you are hiring subcontractors, make sure they have the appropriate general liability and worker’s compensation insurance policies. Otherwise, you could be liable for any accidents that happen during the remodelling process. Ask the insurance agent who manages your homeowner’s policy for more information and research any local requirements to ensure you are protected.

DIY Contractor Checklist

  • Start by talking with the insurance agent who handles your homeowner’s policy. Ask what additional insurance you would need to protect yourself, your home, and anyone working on the job site.
  • You’ll likely need a builder’s risk or fire policy, but be sure to confirm whether your state has any additional requirements.
  • Make sure the insurance policy goes into effect the moment the building materials arrive or the first worker sets foot on the site (whichever one happens first).
  • Keep in mind, if you take out a construction loan, the bank will likely need to see proof of insurance.
  • You have to hire your own subcontractors, which requires knowing all the steps required for your kitchen remodel and the order in which they should occur. Ask friends, family and neighbors to recommend reputable subcontractors or search online for candidates with positive reviews.

Bottom Line:

While you may save money and have more flexibility with a DIY approach, always expect the unexpected with any project and be prepared for a potential increase to your original timeline and budget.

Pros and Cons of Hiring A Contractor

If you’re still on the fence, here are some compelling arguments for and against outsourcing general contractor responsibilities to a trained professional. As a bonus, you can also refer to these checklists when you’re interviewing potential GC candidates to make sure you choose a good one!

Why Should I Hire A General Contractor?

  • Reduced risk, liability and hassle. Any issues that threaten the success of your renovation are your general contractor’s problems to solve, not yours. That includes everything from subcontractor disputes, missed deliveries and damaged goods to more serious issues, like accidental injuries. GCs are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, so if someone gets hurt on the job the liability is transferred to them, not you.
  • Access to reputable resources, quality materials and lower prices. Your GC can help you choose the right materials for your job, often at lower costs, due to volume discounts. They also invest time vetting quality subcontractors and building strong relationships with them, so you’ll get better prices on materials and labor. Plus, in-demand subcontractors often prefer working with GCs they know and trust over inexperienced homeowners.
  • Friends in high places. Not only do GCs manage tedious administrative duties like filing for permits, they know local building regulations inside and out, so they can help you avoid code violations. They often develop a close working relationship with the building inspection office, which may grant them advantages that aren’t extended to regular homeowners.
  • Motivated to work quickly and efficiently. Obviously, you want your dream kitchen to be completed ASAP. Your GC is just as motivated (if not more) to complete your renovation quickly so they can pay their subcontractors and move on to their next money-making opportunity.
  • Finally, they have a reputation to maintain. Repeat clients and referrals are a GC’s bread and butter, so they’re incredibly motivated to do great work and go above and beyond to keep you happy.

Drawbacks of Hiring a Contractor

  • Be prepared to pay a markup. Con­tractors need to earn a living, just like any other service provider. So in addition to the cost of materials and labor, they will add a percentage of markup to the fees they charge to make a profit -- generally around 20-30%. That’s money that stays in your pocket if you choose to take on the role of general contractor yourself.
  • You may need to make some compromises. If you hire a GC for their expertise, that means you should probably listen to them when they advise against a particular idea or request. Working with a general contractor means forfeiting some of the control you would have if you were doing things on your own.

Bottom Line:

Hiring a GC will cost you more money but should grant peace of mind for your kitchen reno. Be sure to do your research and ask for recommendations as part of your search. 

Tips & Recommendations

If, after reading through these pros and cons, you’re still not completely sold on hiring a general contractor or going it completely alone, you may want to consider an option that combines the best of both worlds. For example, if you are 90% sure that you could handle the role of general contractor yourself, but suspect your administrative skills aren’t up to snuff, consider hiring a construction manager who could support you with permit applications, invoices and anywhere else you need help -- such as managing subcontractors, scheduling, inspections or purchase orders.

If you’re interested in taking a more active role in your kitchen remodel, but you don’t want your inexperience to jeopardize the whole project, then search for a general contractor who’s willing to let you get some first-hand experience on the job site. Or start with a very small project on your own, and work your way up to a larger remodel, learning as you go.



For over 95 years, BLANCO has served as passionate kitchen experts delivering premium products backed by industry-leading German engineering. Our niche is transforming how you use the water zone with the BLANCO UNIT, the seamless integration of our sinks, faucets, accessories and organization systems into one smart solution. Everything you need to drink, prep and clean is all in one place.

We are utterly obsessed with improving the heart of the home and want to impart our decades of residential kitchen knowledge to those embarking on their kitchen reno journey or considering an upgrade. Discover more valuable insight in our Ultimate Kitchen Remodel Guide.