When considering “why hire a general contractor” are all these other thoughts running through your head?
- What is a general contractor?
- Are there different types of general contractors?
- Should I hire a general contractor or do it myself (DIY)
- What are the benefits of using a general contractor?
What is a general contractor?
Simply put, a general contractor is the professional responsible for getting the job done. Typical things a general contractor does include:
- Defining the project details (scope)
- Developing and managing the project budget (cost control)
- Developing the project schedule (sequence, relationship and duration of each activity or task)
- Writing the subcontracts and purchase orders (managing risk) including buying the right materials (quantity, type, and quality)
- Coordinating and managing material deliveries so that they are at the right time and sequence (logistics)
- Quality control (making sure the work of each trade is properly installed)
- Waste control: making sure the trade contractors are not wasting materials
- Manages permitting
- Manages inspections
Are there different types of general contractors?
The typical types include commercial and residential contractors. Residential contractors renovate or construct single family homes and commercial contractors construct the other project types. Within the commercial realm there are dozens of specialties such as hospital, heavy civil, hospitality, office, retail, high rise, multifamily, etc. Most residential contractors can handle renovations to new construction.
Should I hire a general contractor or do it myself?
Whether or not to hire a general contractor or DIY depends upon several factors: bandwidth (time and expertise), project complexity, permitting requirements, licensing requirements, time, etc.
If your project involves one or two trades, does not require permits, and the sequencing of work is straightforward, then you can most likely handle this on your own.
The checklist below may help you make your decision:
- Does my project involve more than two trades (i.e. drywall, paint, plumbing)?
- Do I have relationships with trade contractors I can rely upon? In other words…do you have a guy/gal(s)?
- Can I sequence the trades properly?
- Does the project involve load bearing walls?
- Does my local municipality allow owners to secure their own permits (if required)?
- Do I know what to look for from each trade “quality”?
What are the benefits of using a general contractor?
Having a single person or entity to deal with instead of all the separate trades, suppliers, building officials, designers or inspectors makes your life much easier. The general contractor will secure the building permits, purchasing materials and supplies, scheduling inspections, and hire and manage subcontractors and make sure it is done properly.
General contractors have established relationships with suppliers, trade contractors, building officials and inspectors which help the project go much smoother.
The general contractor will manage project risks by making sure the construction work is insured, that the trade contractors have sufficient workmen’s compensation and liability insurance, that all the subcontractors and vendors are paid properly, and that all the subcontractors and vendors provide lien releases to protect the project from fraudulent liens.
Contractors often receive preferred or wholesale pricing from vendors. Retail pricing is typically higher than subcontractor pricing even with their respective markups.
More accurate pricing:
Let’s face it, material costs are volatile right now. Contractors are purchasing materials all the time so they, or their trusted subcontractors, know the current pricing and which commodities have the most risk.
Contractors know how to properly sequence work to prevent conflicts and wasted effort. Additionally, because they have relationships with key trade contractors, they will receive preference over a homeowner on a single opportunity.
Contractors are more familiar with what works, what doesn’t, and local building code requirements. The general contractor and subcontractors can help steer you to alternate solutions when issues arise. In short, you benefit from all their years of lessons learned.
One warranty to manage:
Using a general contractor means you have one person or company to call when something fails or goes wrong. Instead of trying to figure out which vendor’s warranty applies, the general contractor handles that for you. The general contractor knows the duration of each warranty and who to call to get the issue taken care of.
If you answered no to the questions in the checklist above you should consider getting a general contractor. Our company serves the greater Atlanta, Georgia area so if you are in need of construction services please do not hesitate to call.