What It Means When You Act As Your Own General Contractor

Renovation Help

Assuming the role of the General Contractor for your cabinet renovation is an important and gratifying job. Many homeowners choose to go this route, rather than hiring a licensed contractor. Here are some tips and things to consider when you take on the responsibility of the General Contractor.


Do you need permits? It’s recommended that you check with your local government to determine if permits or inspections are needed and, if so, at which stages. In some cities, it is noted that, typically, interior renovations and changes to existing basements do NOT need a permit – when the work consists of minor cosmetic upgrades. Ultimately, it is always best to check in advance with the experts at your local city branch. Another thing to consider is if you live in a condominium, you may have more requirements to get started. Often you need to have a licensed and bonded renovation contractor and/or designer-architect on your team. You may also have to submit your design plans and specifications for written approval from the board of directors and/or property manager. Please check with your condominium corporation for more information on this.


Licensed Contractors and reputable sub-trades have General Liability Insurance and WCB (Workers’ Compensation Coverage). Liability coverage protects the homeowner from property damage or injury during your project. This is why it is best to ensure all hired sub-trades have and can show verification of General Liability Insurance and WCB clearance.


Managing the entire project is the number one responsibility of the General Contractor. Here are some things to consider when taking on a major renovation project:


It is important for the General Contractor to have a schedule and timeline to ensure your project remains on track. Rescheduling sub-trades can result in extra charges and delays for your project. Ensuring your project flows in the correct sequence is also very important. For example, cabinets should be installed prior to flooring. Knowing the correct sequence of your project will ensure all sub-trades and suppliers stay on track.       


Removal of the existing cupboards is also the responsibility of the General Contractor. You can repurpose old cabinets, sell them, or even donate your old cupboards to your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. You will also need to remove the old floor covering material.

Most General Contractors will provide a large waste bin on site for all trades and suppliers to use. Removal of site garbage is the responsibility of the Homeowner or General Contractor.  


You will need to coordinate to make all of the necessary plumbing, heating and electrical changes.


If required, you will want to complete the replacement, relocation or removal of windows, doors, walls and any applicable mouldings. This should be complete prior to cabinet installation.


If the flooring is being replaced, the old flooring should be removed and the sub-floor should be repaired or replaced. The final flooring material should not be installed until after the cabinet and countertop installation is complete. Cabinet heights will be adjusted by the cabinet installer for the flooring and sub-floor thickness, which is provided to your cabinet firm at the time of sign-off. 


If inspections are required, it is the responsibility of the General Contractor or their sub-trades to arrange for these inspections. These are typically for building permits, electrical permits, plumbing and gas permits, heating and ventilation permits, and new home permits.


There are a few tips to consider with regard to your cabinet installation.

Cutting: Plan where your cabinet installer will cut long-length materials, such as fillers, crown mouldings, light valance and toe kicks. To achieve the most efficient installation, they will need to be able to cut materials as close to the kitchen/space as possible. Cutting in the kitchen, garage, adjacent room or outside in the summer is most advantageous. Remember that your home is now a construction site, which has its own dangers to consider.

Painting and Drywall: Your cabinet installer will exercise the utmost care while installing your cabinetry, however, you may need to perform minor paint touch-ups and drywall repairs after installation is complete. The final coat of paint should be applied after the cabinet and countertop installation is complete so the paint is not damaged.


Working Space: Be sure to leave as much space as possible for our installer to work in your home.

Appliances, Materials & Furniture: Existing cabinets, as well as appliances, furniture and extra construction material, must be removed from the room prior to cabinet installation.

Plumbing and Electrical: Because Certified Cabinet Installers are not certified to perform plumbing or electrical tasks for liability reasons, it is imperative that you contact the appropriately trained tradespeople, who should work in these areas be required.

Caution! Construction Zone: Due to safety considerations, it is imperative that your children and your pets remain out of the work area as much as possible while your installer is working. Remember that your kitchen will be under construction and this is now a construction zone. Your cabinet installer may leave the site if working conditions pose a threat to you, your family, your new cupboards or themselves.


For most firms, the cabinet delivery is typically done the day before the installation.  Your new cabinets, mouldings, parts, and pieces will be delivered into the space, close to where it is to be installed. One thing to consider is if you book a Monday installation date for your cabinets, the delivery date will be the previous Friday.


For the Superior Cabinets process, as well as pre-manufactured semi-custom cabinets, typically, the average first cabinet installation trip is anywhere from 2-5 days, depending on the scope of work and is completed by 1 installer. 85 – 95% of the job will be completed at this stage. Once the Installer has completed the initial install, they will prepare and submit a post-installation report. A Certified Superior Cabinets installer uses a Mobile App to order these parts directly from the job site. The installer will also detail any outstanding deficiencies, parts required, and will also upload site pictures taken of the completed install thus far.


Typically, 1 to 2 additional visits will be required after the first installation is complete. This next trip allows us to install toe kick, and exposed light valance (if required), as well as address any deficiencies, reported from the initial installation. Here the cabinet installer will also complete any deficiencies and perform any final touch-ups and adjustments to the cabinetry. This trip is typically scheduled within 2-4 weeks from your initial installation date.

It is important that the General Contractor arranges to have Flooring, Backsplash Tile, and Countertops completed prior to completing the Job Completion trip.


Dust:  Your Cabinetry Installer will try to keep the dust to a minimum and will typically broom sweep the work area when finished. Detailed cleaning is the responsibility of the homeowner or general contractor.

Packaging:  For all Superior Cabinets jobs that are installed, packaging from your new cabinets will be neatly bundled and left on site for you to dispose of.


Now that your cabinets are substantially completed, there are a few more things the General Contractor or homeowner will need to take care of:

  • Installation of plumbing fixtures.
  • Installation of light fixtures, appliances, and trim/casing.
  • Any drywall touchups and finish coat of paint.
  • Final cleaning of interior and exterior of cabinetry, prior to use.


Taking on the role of the General Contractor for your home or property can be very gratifying. Knowing the requirements in advance, as well as building a solid plan will help ensure things run smoothly, on time and as close to budget as predicted.

If you aren’t sure if this is the best investment of your time, it is always recommended that you inquire with a few Licensed General Contractors in your area to discuss what taking on this role for your project would cost.  If you would like to chat with a Superior Cabinets Designer, feel free to book your free design consultation appointment in one of our showrooms located in Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary.


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