Q: How much money can one save?
A: If you live in a hot housing market where there’s lots of activity (like San Francisco), then the remodeling contractors are probably making 25 to 30% profit on their work. If you are inexperienced, you will not save that much. Instead, on your first few projects, you could expect to save 10-15% due to novice errors and the lack of volume discounts on labor. If 10-15% is sufficient or if you hope to do more projects in the future, then it may pay to be your own contractor.
Q: What personality traits and other characteristics are required to be your own contractor?
A: It helps to be control-oriented, be self-motivated, be able to give plenty of attention to detail, have plenty of time available, not get stressed out too easily, be organized, be able to see the big picture, be good at scheduling, have low expectations of contractors, and be a good negotiator.
Q: How can you learn to be your own contractor?
A: There are continuing education courses available at local universities, such as the one I teach at Emory University. Also, there are some books available on the subject of how to be your own contractor; however, I haven’t found one yet that I could recommend. The best way to learn is by diving in, doing it, and asking the contractors questions as you go along.