Can’t I just do it myself?
It does sound tempting to save a little money and keep total control of your project by being your own contractor. After all, the subcontractors will be “doing all the work” right? In reality, there are some very good reasons to hire a trusted, professional general contractor for your home building or improvement project.
The Role of a General Contractor
A general contractor is a project manager who is hired to organize and execute a building or major remodeling project. He or she manages the subcontractors through all phases of the project to keep them on track. A good general contractor keeps the build on-plan, on-time, and on-budget.
Factors that will affect your decision to hire a General Contractor:
1) Consider the scope of the project. You may be thinking that your remodel is just one room of your house, so you don’t really need much help. But it’s not the square footage that counts: it’s the number of moving “parts.” A kitchen remodel may require knocking down and building walls, tilework, plumbing, electrical work, custom carpentry, HVAC modifications… the list goes on and on. A good general contractor manages the timing, cost of materials, subcontractors, and permits.
2) Take a good, honest look at your own experience and skills. Maybe you have some experience in remodeling and you’ve pulled off some projects around the house without a hitch. That’s great! But are you sure you know what “right” looks like in terms of building codes and standards? Will you notice if a subcontractor makes a mistake?
A good general contractor can often identify structural, regulatory, or safety issues before the project even starts and will plan to address them. They work with subcontractors who you can trust to do the job right, and they supervise them appropriately.
3) What about your day job? In an ideal world, you would check in “on site” whenever your subcontractors are working on your project. But how much time can you actually devote to this? We tell homeowners to estimate 35 hours/week for 5 to 6 months to build an average 1500 square foot home. Most homeowners do not have the adequate time to devote to supervising the project… because most of us have “day jobs!” Think about how you plan to handle time away from work and family obligations, especially for unscheduled issues that inevitably arise.
4) How will you hire subcontractors you can trust? Another advantage to hiring a general contractor is that they have solid relationships with area subcontractors that will work in your favor.
Hiring all your subs yourself on an individual basis can be problematic: one “bad apple” can spoil your whole project. Established general contractors hire the best subcontractors for the job: subs they have worked with before and know they can trust.
The relationship goes the other way as well: subcontractors appreciate the work and project management skills of a good GC. They are often willing to arrange their schedule or be flexible for a general contractor they like to work for.
Another advantage? Your general contractor may have the same group of subcontractors working on several different projects. If a timeline changes, crews can be shifted among jobsites to minimize downtime, for both you and the subcontractors.
The Bottom Line: Hiring a General Contractor brings you peace of mind.
Having an experienced professional managing your project and jobsite will mean fewer headaches for you. A general contractor will minimize downtime (and decrease the total time of the project), obtain permits, file necessary paperwork, and make sure your structure meets regulatory standards and building codes.
How SCHBA can help:
We can help you find a general contractor to build your home or manage your remodeling project. See our Member Directory for a listing of general contractors in Sheboygan County.
Why Choose a SCHBA member?
EXPERIENCED: Our builder members are required to have acted as a general contractor for at least five new housing, commercial building units, or remodeling projects including multiple trades.
TRUSTED: Our builder members must provide us references from companies within the skilled trades to attest to their experience.
CERTIFIED: Members must provide us proof of current contractor certifications as required by the state of Wisconsin.
Finding a General Contractor:
See our Member Directory for listings and contact information for area contractors. Our annual Spring Tour of Homes, Home Builder’s Expo, and Parade of Homes give you a chance to see the work of local builders and contractors in person. View their work first-hand, talk to the homeowners, and learn more about the building and remodeling process.