When you’re considering remodeling, renovating, or building a new home there are many questions to answer. You likely have a vision for the way you want your house to look, but how do you get from an idea to a finished product?
The first step is the design. With the help of an architect or designer, depending on the project, you’ll be able to get those thoughts on paper. Unless you plan on doing all of the work yourself, the next step is where a general contractor comes in. A general contractor functions as a general manager. They facilitate communication between owner, architect, sub-contractors, and any other involved parties. They also go through the plans, figure out what needs to be done, which materials need to be ordered, and which workers or subcontractors are best suited to do the work. In addition, a general contractor sets an initial budget for the project and works to prevent the project from exceeding the budget. They also warranty the work, oversee day-to-day operations, and create timelines and schedules. In essence, they provide the labor, often via sub-contractors, materials to build the house, and make sure the work gets done. General contractors go through a licensing process at the state level to help ensure reliability.
While some general contractors charge a flat rate for their services, most charge an overhead percentage on all labor, materials, permits, and other expenses that accumulate during the project.
One important advantage of using a general contractor on your project is their construction expertise and relationships with subcontractors. As a homeowner, if you decide to hire plumbers, electricians, tile setters, and other specialized trade workers on your own for a remodel or renovation, you’ll likely encounter a few obstacles. Do you know exactly what needs to be done for your project, who should do it, and in what order? If you remodel your kitchen and have new lighting fixtures and appliances and you don’t know that you might need to check to see if an electrician should rewire for additional power requirements, you could find yourself with contracts that don’t cover your needs. You may feel that the electrician should cover this extra work, but if it’s not in the contract you’ll likely find yourself in a dispute where the contract isn’t on your side.
A good general contractor will be providing regular work for their most used subcontractors. Over time they build relationships and establish quality expectations. From time to time when disagreements or disputes come up, the steady stream of work the general contractor provides plays an important role in making sure both sides are committed to finding a solution. Whereas, if you’re a home owner and your personal project is the only one you have going, you don’t have as much leverage in negotiating directly with workers in case something doesn’t go as planned.
If you have any questions for us about the role of a general contractor, send us an email and we’d be happy to get back to you.