Remember; you get what you pay for, so going with the lowest bid may not get you the quality finished product you were looking for. I hope this helps.
Respectfully, Marc Carrillo
General Contractor and Remodeling Specialist
Tight Lines Construction Inc
1124 Mason Dr
Pacifica, Ca 94044
Fortunately it looks like you are getting a lot of good advice!
It doesn't sound like you are really interested in doing a lot of the work yourself but there are ways that you can save money and use a contractor as well.
One of the most time consuming parts to a project is sourcing and purchasing the materials to be used. For instance, you mention a kitchen "re-do." It could take several hours to find the right cabinets along with all the parts and pieces. For instance, IKEA sells incredible products for kitchens but all of it has to be figured out. If as a homeowner, you are willing to invest the hours to do measurements, calculations, estimates at the showroom, arrange for delivery, etc, then you could save a lot of money as all of those hours would be billable expenses by a contractor. I would however recommend using a professional to install the cabinets. While the assembly of the cabinets might be fairly simple, lots of complications can arise in trying to level out the wall and square off the elevations.
Being a female Project Manager in construction, I often am able to work with a client in making the most economical and practical choices as remodel projects very often require huge amounts of patience :)
Feel free to contact me to discuss further.
Clint Shaw General Contractor
Michael J. Hyde
MJH Construction Management
If you are willing to make a siginificant investment in time, you and your husband can attend "how to" lectures at Home Depot or the like and learn most of the skills.
Some things, like electrical, plumbing and carpentry may be easier to contract for rather than experiment with. Per the adage above, allow a lot of time for these activities. Because you've chosen to minimize the budget, time and quality are directly related. The more time spent on an activity, the higher quality.
Make sure you have a master plan and design before you start and watch out for any permiting requirements by the city. It might pay you to have some "old pro" help with your planning, particularily the kitchen remodel. It is really important, for example, know about the appliances and fixtures before you start the plumbing and electrical.
Kitchen tiles can be easy if you rent or buy a tile cutter. Read up on kitchen cabinets, watch videos on your computer and go for it if you think you can do it. Leave the electrical and complicated plumbing to the professionals.
I disagree will Michael on only one small point. When he says, "It's almost a full-time job just managing the contractors and laborers". Actually it is more than full time job for me. But then contractors like myself also manage clients, architects, and suppliers. I think when consumers act as their own general contractors the quote they get from specialty contractors (plumbing, electrical, tile, ect) is higher than I would receive for the same job. Their concern is that they will need to spend extra time educating you as to their requirements.
Owner: House to Home Remodeling
In closing organization prior to and during your project is the best way to bring it in on budget. Increasing general contractors are willing to work with their clients who wish to assume responsibility and take over functions to save money. Make that part of your bid requirements. Present your project as thought through and organized and it will show up in the quotes you receive.
For most remodeling, the fun and novelty of doing it yourself wears off when the difficult work sets in. It's almost a full-time job just managing the contractors and laborers. We all want to save money, but I would recommend hiring licensed pros to do the work. If something goes wrong, they are liable and nowadays you can get a good contractor at a good price. Shop different contractors and specialists and get several quotes. Always negotiate on the quote as well.
This is a great question and I agree with Lance that it is a complicated one to answer.
I think a good way to start answering would be to know which remodeling jobs require a licensed skill versus one that just take a little research, knowhow, and elbow grease. Obviously, you would want to enlist the services of a licensed professional in terms of your plumbing, electric, and HVAC systems but it sounds like you have the time it may take to do some final touches like painting and working on the front yard. You may still want to consult with experts on your yard to when it comes to landscaping and the like because of the levels of your land and making sure water runs away from your home and not toward it.
Call some experts, pick their brains, and get some solid advice on all of your projects. If you need referrals I'm happy to help.
Best of luck!
The answer to this question is complicated, because I don't know what your skills are or how much time you have to put into this.
I have personally remodeled a lot of properties, most recently a complete gut job on our new home in Pac Hts. I have all the contractors you could need for those jobs and some excellent resources for materials as well.
Happy to give some referrals. Contact info below.
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker