Degree or Certificate for General Contractor? Home maintenance remodel

  • #1
I'm looking to learn how to do basic home maintenance such as:
Roof repair
Bathtub install
Tile flooring
Install wood flooring
Shower stall demo and install
How to add ceiling lights
Driveway install

Basic things that come with owning a home. I believe that the people who do these type of projects are called "general contractors". I don't want to become one, I just want to learn how to do this stuff.

What is this field of study called? I'm hoping to maybe get a certificate or an associate degree in this field of study? I don't know I don't want to just take random classes that don't count towards some academic achievement. Just to be clear, I want to learn how to do the actual work myself, not be like a project manager or interior design, bud the person doing the physical work.

I would like to find maybe like a community college so I can take these classes cheap, I'm just having difficulty because I don't know what this field of study is called. Thanks for any help. I don't want to be an apprentence or anything or go into this field as a profession, as I'm already an engineer.

So I just want to take classes to learn how to do these things, so I can learn how to do my own home maintenance instead of hiring someone else. Thanks for any help. The labor is very expensive. At nearly $20k to remodel a bathroom, I figured I'd be better off just taking the classes myself to learn how to do this work, do the work myself, and it would probably cost me half that if not less.
 
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  • #2
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While a general contractor may know how to do these things, typically general contractors subcontract other specialist contractors to do the work. A homeowner may have a big project home remodel, the general contractor will coordinate with the homeowner and plumbers, carpenters, ... when to come and what needs to be done.

In addition, general contractors will handle customer complaints and subcontractors will come back to fix things. The best courses would be those where you can learn to estimate project costs much like an insurance adjustor who estimates damages to a home or business.

https://learn.org/articles/General_Contractor_5_Steps_to_Becoming_a_General_Contractor.html

and on Udemy:

https://www.udemy.com/topic/Construction/?matchtype=b&msclkid=8554b405eb0f17621073eb02e68400b4&utm_campaign=NEW-BG-PROS-ALL-LongTail-EN-ENG_._ci__._sl_ENG_._vi_ALL_._sd_All_._la_EN_._&utm_content=deal4584&utm_medium=udemyads&utm_source=bing&utm_term=_._ag_1216060172243064_._ad__._kw_+Construction +Training_._de_c_._dm__._pl__._ti_kwd-76003961577858:loc-4126_._li_73982_._pd__._
 
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  • #3
Borek
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Could be a language thing, but somehow I fail to understand what you are really looking for.

I'm looking to learn how to do basic home maintenance
just want to learn how to do this stuff
I want to learn how to do the actual work myself
Most of these thing don't require any study nor degree, if anything, apprenticeship is a way to go. If you are not interested in apprenticeship just grab basic tools, watch DIY videos and try. Preferably with small things to get some experience.
 
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  • #4
BillTre
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There are do it yourself books you can get at places like Home Depot or Lowes that cover a lot of these activities in the different sub-specialities.
Attention to code and getting things inspected can be important (especially electrical and plumbing). Contractors and pros are probably better at this aspect.
Its not very challenging conceptually, but there are the details, meeting code requirements and getting things inspected.
 
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  • #5
berkeman
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There are do it yourself books you can get at places like Home Depot or Lowes that cover a lot of these activities in the different sub-specialities.
The larger Home Depot stores near me used to offer in-person workshops about once a month or more frequently on all kinds of home improvement subjects. It looks like they are mostly online now, but may go back to in-person after the pandemic subsides:

https://www.homedepot.com/c/diy_pro...23JqPZLkppnS4Z9_u9YaAgmzEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.homedepot.com/workshops/#change_store

And I second the point about knowing when you will need to abide by local building codes and pull permits for your work. Typically any new electrical, plumbing or structural work (not just cosmetic) that you do on your home requires a permit and inspections.

I don't think you'll find any degrees associated with learning this stuff, but do check out the classes that are (were) offered by your local community college. If they have wood shop or metal shop or other related classes, those can be very worthwhile to take. You will also get some good safety instruction in such classes, including things that may not be obvious to you on your own (like don't wear long, loose clothing when operating power tools, etc.).
 
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  • #6
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You can find building codes specific for your state at this site:
https://codes.iccsafe.org/what-are-building-codes

When in doubt, you can always contact and consult your local Building Department, and even request courtesy inspections, having an inspector visit your on-going project for legal advice before you invest money and work in the wrong direction (yes, they could make you demolish things that are not in compliance with the code).

Local specific structural, plumbing and electrical contractors (avoid busy big companies) may stop by as well and give you some fist-hand practical advice about safety procedures (yes, you can get hurt in many ways), best materials and techniques for a time-based fee, especially if business is slow.
There are some supplies that only they can buy from specialized suppliers.

Best luck with your projects! :cool:
 
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  • #7
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If you are looking for what category of classes to take at your local tech community college, start with 'construction trades' also look for classes and/or categories such as carpentry, welding, plumbing, HVAC.

Tech cc classes are an _amazing_ intellectual resource (breathtakingly cost effective too) and can give all sorts of hands on education and direct access to experienced experts, which is _very_ important in manual trade skills. Another thing you will learn in such classes are the basic safety issues and procedures that may seem obvious, but all too often slip between the cracks in self learning situations.

BTW, these classes are usually fun as heck too..... and you get to work/learn with others learning the same things, facilitating collaboration and mutual feedback on ideas and learning (and you will make new friends).

Warning: Taking tech cc classes may be highly addictive.

I cannot speak too highly of this approach.

diogenesNY
 
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  • #8
gleem
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I' m surprised nobody mentioned YouTube. If it has been done it is probably on YouTube. You may want to watch a couple of versions of any project since there are variations in approaches as well as details that may vary regionally with regards to building codes and other factors.
 
  • #9
jrmichler
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If you prefer less formal methods of learning, ask around.

I learned roofing by helping some friends shingle a barn roof. Later, other friends helped shingle my roof. One friend showed up because I had built a bunk bed for her apartment, plus she thought a roofing party would be an interesting experience. Another friend came because I promised there would be a young attractive single woman on the roof. Another friend, from East Germany, came because he somehow got the idea that work parties were an American custom, so he wanted to experience one.

I learned to place concrete by hiring a retired cement finisher to supervise the placing of my garage floor. Friends helped. The promise of free beer afterward helped persuade friends to help.

I learned how to replace the electrical service to my house by helping an electrician friend replace the service in his father's house, reading books, plus a long talk with the electrical inspector.

Sometimes, you just figure it out. I had a rusty pipe blow out a chunk of rust and shoot me with a stream of water dead center between my eyes. Multiple trips to the hardware store looking for things that fit, plus the tools to fit them, a long Saturday, and it was fixed.

Just start with whatever is easiest and/or most important. The more you do, the easier it will be to learn the next task.

it would probably cost me half that if not less.
True. Labor is usually at least half the cost.

And last, but not least: "No beer until we are done."
 
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  • #10
berkeman
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I learned roofing by helping some friends shingle a barn roof. Later, other friends helped shingle my roof.
There's a huge difference between shingling a new roof, and re-shingling an existing roof. Quiz Question -- Why?

I'm sure you know, but I'm curious if the other readers of this thread know. Spoiler tags on answers are preferred. :smile:
 
  • #11
jrmichler
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Which aroused my curiosity, so I made a list of shingling jobs in my personal experience:

Three where we shingled over existing shingles, roll roofing, or wood shingles.
Two new roofs.
One strip existing, then double roof (new roof above existing).
One addition with a new roof plus strip existing roof.

That's a total of seven roofs, and I have no interest in ever doing another roofing job. Partly because it seems to be a law that roofing jobs are only done in hot weather or when it's raining. Or both. The barn roof job had both. It was hot and sunny all day. We planned to finish, then head over to the lake visible from the roof and go swimming. The thunderstorm rolled in as we got off the roof.
 
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  • #12
256bits
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roofing jobs are only done in hot weather or when it's raining.
There is another bylaw, also applied,
When it's not raining and dripping inside, the roof don't need no fixin',
And when it's raining, you can't fix the roof cuz, well, it's raining.
:biggrin:
 
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  • #13
jbriggs444
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There's a huge difference between shingling a new roof, and re-shingling an existing roof. Quiz Question -- Why?

I'm sure you know, but I'm curious if the other readers of this thread know. Spoiler tags on answers are preferred. :smile:
I have a hard time imagining the difference. The only time I've ever re-shingled, we stripped off the old before applying the new.
I would expect problems with new nails hitting old nail heads if one tried to simply layer on top. Especially if the new courses are accurately lined up with the old courses.
 
  • #14
berkeman
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Well, I've stripped a few roofs (unfortunately) in preparation for the new shingles...

Having to use a flat shovel to smack and pry up the old nails was one of the hardest things I've done. My wrists were aching through the whole process, despite wearing quality leather gloves. Almost as hard as digging ditches in really hard ground. Both were summer jobs, of course. o0)
 
  • #15
jbriggs444
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Well, I've stripped a few roofs (unfortunately) in preparation for the new shingles...

Having to use a flat shovel to smack and pry up the old nails was one of the hardest things I've done. My wrists were aching through the whole process, despite wearing quality leather gloves. Almost as hard as digging ditches in really hard ground. Both were summer jobs, of course. o0)
Ahh, that part didn't bother me much for some reason. Maybe it is just that memory fades. The shovels were good enough that they sometimes sheared through the nails, softening the impact.
 
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  • #16
BillTre
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No more roofing projects for me.
I just had my shingles vaccine!
 
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  • #17
Averagesupernova
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Last reroof I had anything to do with we simply drove by existing nails down. I didn't think pulling the old shingles off was that bad. There were two layers.
 
  • #18
berkeman
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Last reroof I had anything to do with we simply drove by existing nails down.
That sounds like a good idea. I wish somebody in the crews would have had that idea...
 
  • #19
Averagesupernova
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That sounds like a good idea. I wish somebody in the crews would have had that idea...
Maybe they were like me. I would prefer them pulled out, but my roofer said push them in. He's done alot of roofing so I said ok.
 
  • #20
Tom.G
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Last reroof I had anything to do with we simply drove by existing nails down. I didn't think pulling the old shingles off was that bad. There were two layers.
That sounds like a good idea. I wish somebody in the crews would have had that idea...
Maybe they were like me. I would prefer them pulled out, but my roofer said push them in. He's done alot of roofing so I said ok.
Hmm... could it be that the difference is one of you was looking for long-term ease of rework, and/or 'elegance', while the other was used to getting payed fixed-fee by the job?
 
  • #21
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Attention to code and getting things inspected can be important (especially electrical and plumbing).

This is a "must read" if any projects involving plumbing are anticipated. . . . :wink:


Pipes: Purchase and Work Specifications:

1. All pipe is to be made of a long hole surrounded by metal or plastic.

2. All pipe is to be hollow throughout the entire length. Do not use holes of different lengths than the pipe.

3. The ID (inside diameter) of all pipes must not exceed the OD (outside diameter), otherwise the hole will be on the outside.

4. It is desirable that the hole in the pipe be the same diameter for the entire length, otherwise the contents of the pipe will get thinner in the smaller part of the pipe.

5. All pipe is to be supplied with nothing in the hole, so that water, steam or other stuff can be put in at a later date if required.

6. All pipe should be supplied without rust; this can be more readily applied at the job site.

Note: Some vendors are now able to supply pre-rusted pipes.
This should be cheaper as it is usually old stock.

7. All pipe over 500ft (153m) in length should have the words "long pipe" clearly painted on each side and end, so that the contractor will know it is a long pipe.

8. Pipe over 2 miles (3.2km) in length must have the words "longer pipe" painted in the middle, so the contractor will not have to walk the entire length of the pipe to determine whether it is a long pipe or not.

9. All pipe over 6" (150mm) in diameter must have the words "large pipe" painted on it, so the contractor will not mistake it for small pipe.

10. Pipes that are threaded on both ends should have either right hand or left hand threads. Do not mix the threads, otherwise the coupling is screwed on to one pipe as it is unscrewed from the other pipe. This could cause the pipe to be disconnected and then leak.

11. Pipes that are to have flanges must have then at both ends. Flanges must have holes for the bolts that are quite separate from the big hole in the middle.

12. When joining two pipes together with flanges, it is necessary to have flanges of the same size, otherwise the bolts will not fit into the holes and the pipes will not stay together, causing a likely leak.

13. When ordering 90 degree, 45 degree, or 30 degree elbows, be sure to specify left hand or right hand - otherwise you will end up going the wrong way and the required 180 degree elbows are an added cost.

14. When ordering pipe, be sure to specify to your vendor whether you want level, uphill or downhill pipe. If you use downhill pipe for going uphill, the contents will flow the wrong way.

15. Check if the pipe includes ready made leaks. If not, these may be added during the construction process. Most pipes leak from the inside out but do not be surprised if the occasional one leaks from the outside in. In some instances where leaks are not desirable, to check if the pipe is working, it may be possible to use both types of leaks together, to offset each other.

16. All pipes shorter than 1/8" are very uneconomical to use, requiring many joints.

Note: Pipes shorter than 1/8", are generally known as washers.



Carry on. . . . :smile:

.
 
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  • #22
BillTre
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Most pipes leak from the inside out but do not be surprised if the occasional one leaks from the outside in.
These are actually an important consideration in the production of water systems for fish (and other aquatic life) support systems.
A leak upstream of a pump (where air can get sucked into the pipe) can introduce air into the pump impeller where increased pressure and turbulence can cause gas supersaturation in the water being delivered to the fish.
This can cause gas bubble disease, which similar to the bends causes bubbles of air to come out of solution in the fish's body.
 
  • #23
Averagesupernova
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Hmm... could it be that the difference is one of you was looking for long-term ease of rework, and/or 'elegance', while the other was used to getting payed fixed-fee by the job?
Nope. I was paying him by the hour. It's my nature to have the old nails pulled. They're not supposed to be there. Lol. I'm a bit OCD. I doubt I could have stayed ahead pulling the old nails.
 
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