The General Contractor


Why hire a General Contractor? Can’t I just sub out the work myself and save a lot of money?


    A good General Contractor earns every cent you pay them. Hiring the services of a General Contractor is not like any other purchase you will make. Construction is a custom product, involving a unique blend of craftsmanship, knowledge and project management. Most General Contractors usually started out as a trades person of one kind or another. They have many years experience in knowing what to look for on a construction project.


    A General Contractor is responsible for securing all necessary permits, building to the specifications of your plans and scheduling inspections by your local code officials. Renovations or additions in most municipalities are regulated by building, plumbing, electrical and energy codes. A local General Contractor is usually familiar with the best ways to comply with all the rules and regulations pertaining to your job. From staking out the boundaries of your project, calculating and ordering materials, to finishing the final punch list, the GC performs many tasks to numerous to mention.


     Most projects require the involvement of a lot of people, including various sub-contractors and specialists. Although each trade will provide services such as pouring the foundation and framing the structure, you need an expert with the technical know how to direct the building process from start to finish.


    A GC will know how to find qualified subs and ensure that they arrive at the right time, in the right order and with access to the proper materials to complete the job. GC’s provide repeat business therefore their sub-contractors give them better pricing and get the work done more quickly. A professional General Contractor will hire subs that, when necessary, will be willing to work extra hours in order to finish your project on time.


    As a homeowner you will not have such an advantage since for them, you probably are a one time job. Independent sub-contractors are only concerned with their respective portion of your job. Conflicts that arise between the different trades’ scope of work and their respective schedules can result in a stalled project; or even worse costly work that has to be redone.


    An experienced GC knows how to handle the inevitable complications inherent in the building process. Small issues can turn into large problems if not handled quickly. For example they will know how to prepare your job site for high winds or heavy rains. Unpredictable weather can greatly affect the job schedule and ruin materials after they are installed.


    Legal issues that could arise may only be covered if you have separate contracts with each sub-contractor. Are you prepared to carry workers compensation insurance, in case someone gets hurt on the job? If after the project is done you have electrical, plumbing or roofing problems etc., consider that you have no warranty on a project you sub-contracted yourself.


    When borrowing from a bank to fund your project, they may require their own inspections in order to determine when to disperse payments. If later on you decide to sell your home, a potential purchaser will pay less for a novice built project, than one that was done by a reputable known builder.


    Having the total job price in writing before starting avoids cost overruns and ensures your project will come in on time and on budget. Considering all these factors, hiring an experienced professional to build your addition is well worth it!

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