Whether you are building a house, a workspace, or a commercial space, all construction projects can be complicated and time-consuming. Quite often, people prefer to manage the entire project management themselves. Some hire a friend with previous experience or basic know-how in construction and engineering.
While this might seem practical and economical, doing so may lead to overspending, errors, and delayed project completion. Working with a general contractor can prevent these potential problems.
What is a General Contractor?
A general contractor is an individual or a company that is responsible for the overall management and oversight of a construction project. Also, the general contractor coordinates all members of the project such as the architect or design team, the construction workers, the suppliers, the sub-contractors, and the project owner. As the project lead, the general contractor ensures the satisfactory completion of a project within the agreed budget and schedule.
Although general contractors play a major role in construction projects, many people are not keen on hiring one. Some think that a project manager is just another layer in the communication and an unnecessary cost. After all, the salary of a construction manager is quite expensive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay of a project manager is around $95,260.
However, it should be emphasized that hiring someone with knowledge and experience in the field of construction is crucial in the success of a building project. Inefficient management is one of the most common reasons for construction delays and problems – and a general contractor covers the management aspect of the project.
General contractors are more common in major construction and renovation projects. These construction projects entail numerous technical aspects, require expertise, and involve sub-contractors.
Here we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a general contractor.
Pros of Hiring a General Contractor
Construction projects require coordination with the architect, designer, suppliers, construction workers, and regulatory authorities. A general contractor acts as a single point of contact. So, you don’t have to talk to each construction team member. It also ensures that everyone is on the same page.
The general contractor assumes accountability over the entire project. He ensures that the project proceeds as scheduled and within the budget. If ever the project is not completed within the given time-frame, the general contractor can be held accountable, such as through fine or penalty. There won’t be any finger-pointing on the part of the suppliers as the general contractor deals with them directly.
As mentioned above, general contractors have the necessary knowledge and experience in the management of construction projects. According to a general contracting company, AFS General Contracting, a project manager requires in-depth knowledge of the construction process, building codes, and the latest construction technology.
Timely project completion
A general contractor company sees the day-to-day progress of the project. He ensures that all sequences and aspects of the project are completed within their set deadline. Any delay in the process can lead to subsequent delays and ultimately the project completion. For instance, if you are unable to secure the necessary building permits, the project won’t be able to start. Similarly, if the civil works are delayed, the project cannot proceed. Time is of the essence, so make sure you have someone to oversee the schedule.
General contracting companies have available funds to ensure that subcontractors are paid timely and that they deliver output on time. They also see to it that expenses are within the set budget.
Unexpected downtimes are not uncommon in construction projects. Deliver delays, bad weather, and other force majeure events like storms, extreme temperatures, earthquakes, etc. can lead to costly setbacks. An experienced general contractor can work around these unavoidable events and ensure that the project keeps moving. Critical thinking and planning skills are vital in resolving these problems. The contractor can help resolve any issues and come up with solutions promptly. This can help save you time on the project.
As mentioned above, general contractors guarantee that the project follows the set budget. This helps avoid unnecessary expenses on redoing errors. They have a wide network of sub-contractors, thus allowing them to find the lowest bid. Likewise, they can also purchase materials in bulk at a lower price, which means more savings for you.
Typically, construction management and general contractor agreements come with a warranty period. Therefore, in case of any issues or problems directly related to the construction, such as electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and others, you won’t have to shell out extra costs. The general contractor is still liable for the repair.
Licensing and insurance
General contractors are knowledgeable about the building code, construction standards, and local regulations in your area. They will ensure that you are compliant with these rules. Included in the contract is the liability and compensation of workers. In the event of an accident at the worksite, you are not legally liable for them. Since the liability is upon the contractors, they follow the safety standards.
Peace of mind
Lastly, hiring a building contractor gives you peace of mind. Knowing that someone is on top of the entire project, you can rest assured that everything goes as planned. You will only have to wait for the project to be completed and turned over to you.
Cons of Hiring a General Contractor
As previously mentioned, hiring a general contractor means additional costs. It is even costlier if you hire a general contracting company because they work as a team. Instead of paying for their services, you can very well spend the money directly on the project cost. If you have enough time and expertise in construction, you can manage your project and save up to more than 15%. This is a substantial amount and is definitely worth your effort.
Lack of first-hand knowledge of the project
By having a general contractor, you are virtually detached from the project. You won’t have to deal with the nitty-gritty. The general contractor won’t give you details about issues unless you specifically ask them to. Take note that some minor details or issues could potentially have a major impact later on. For instance, plumbing mistakes can cause leakage later on. If the contractor simply patches up the problem, it won’t likely have any immediate effect but might show up over time.
Although hiring a reliable general contractor won’t result in this problem, working with the wrong team might lead to quality issues. Since you don’t have direct control over the project, unscrupulous contractors might shortchange the work. They might even use substandard materials to the detriment of your building.
Lack of personal satisfaction
Some people find satisfaction by completing the projects themselves. With general contracting, you won’t be able to enjoy every step of the process. The contractor oversees all aspects of the construction. You’ll only be able to see milestones and not the day-to-day progress. If you want your hands on deck throughout the process, then hiring a contractor won’t satisfy you.
Missed learning opportunities
Likewise, contracting out the project will deny you the opportunity to learn new skills, such as construction, business skills, negotiation, and project management. These skills prove useful in your future projects. You’ll also be able to discover new interests and open up new connections. However, if you have zero experience in construction, you might find the entire experience to be daunting and tough.
If you have a major building project, consider the following advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, this can help you come up with an informed decision.