Are you experienced in construction? Do you feel comfortable managing large, complicated projects? Would you like to find out if you have what it takes to be your own general contractor? Whether you’re planning a minor home remodel or a major renovation, there are several pros and cons to consider before taking the step.
The skill set required for being a general contractor is very similar to that of a business entrepreneur or President of a company. You must know how to juggle multiple tasks under tight deadlines, manage several different groups of people, understand construction processes and safety procedures and solve interpersonal conflicts. You must also be able to take responsibility for financial tasks like purchasing, accounting and budgeting. It’s a big job and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In order for a construction project to be a success, the general contractor is the person who takes accountability for all phases of the construction process. From start to finish, the general contractor holds the most responsibility on his or her shoulders to make sure that the job is completed correctly, efficiently, on budget and-perhaps most importantly-safely.
General contractors also have a gift for looking at the big picture. They can take a look at construction plans and then visualize what needs to happen. From the start they are adept at scheduling-down to what needs to be done for a certain month, week and day. They are phenomenal at budgeting and purchasing, as well as hiring and managing others. And they understand that one mistake now can mean a disaster further down the line. Not meeting schedules, missing equipment or materials and mismanaged subcontractors can equate to lost profits, or even large-scale debts.
Before you decide to be your own general contractor, it’s important to consider what a large undertaking this is and to do your best to objectively evaluate your skill set to determine if it’s the right job for you. Many homeowners choose to act as their own general contractor simply because they’re uncomfortable with handing responsibility and, in a sense, power over to another person. They want to be in control of their own project. That’s fine, but it’s also vital to understand what it takes to be a general contractor. If you aren’t confident with your construction management skills, perhaps a better idea would be to find a general contractor professional whom you trust, or who has been recommended by friends or family. A good general contractor will keep you apprised of all decisions throughout the process and will help demonstrate that you still in fact do, as the homeowner and client, have control over the project.
Another reason why homeowners like to be their own general contractor is because they look at it as a way to save money. Statistics do say that it’s possible to save 10% to 20% on a construction job by removing the general contractor and doing the work yourself. But it’s also true that in exchange, you’ll be giving up valuable time with your family and career-not to mention adding a lot of responsibility, pressure and liability. You should also remember that the job of a general contractor is to make sure that the job runs smoothly; their experience saves you headaches.
Should you be your own general contractor? The decision is a complex one, and it’s up to you to weigh the potential savings with the time and effort. Just be sure to know what you’re getting into before the project begins.