With the DIY spirit trending, many homeowners looking to build their own home ask themselves this question, “Can I be my own General Contractor?” The following blog is the first part of a blog series that answers this question, gives advice on the next steps once you’ve decided, and what to expect along the way.
Do you have what it takes? A General Contractor (GC) is well organized, pays attention to details, and can swing with the punches. These core traits make up what it takes to be a GC; a homeowner does not have to be well versed in the construction industry (although that helps) to feel capable of being your own GC. It no longer becomes a question of, “Can I?” but “Should I?”
What motivates homeowners to want to be their own general contractor? Most people are attracted to the cost savings, but other reasons are the satisfaction (and bragging rights) of building your own home and feeling like you are in control during each stage. Although most people want to be GC just for the cost savings, in the end, homeowners usually spend as much as if they hired one because of unforeseen issues. If you are one of the lucky few that actually saved money by being the general contractor, you have to factor in all the time you spent. If you want to be your own GC solely to save the 10-20% cost, it might not be a good idea. Remember time= money.
A lot of people don’t realize how extensive the whole process is; it’s a full time job finding multiple, quality subs to give estimates on everything from the plumbing to the gutters. General Contractors who have been doing this for many years already know who they like to subcontract work out to and can often receive a quicker turn around on estimates than homeowners can; this is because GCs already have a standing relationship with these subs.
General Contractors are also in charge of pulling all the permits and scheduling inspections. As a homeowner you might not be familiar with the “red tape hang-ups” or get pushed to the back of the line since others aren’t used to working with you. Don’t be offended, this is just part of being your own GC in the construction realm; people like to expedite who they already know can do the job successfully and punctually.
It’s a good rule of thumb to not be a first time General Contractor if you have not orchestrated a smaller scale remodel. Completely restructuring a kitchen (moving plumbing, redoing cabinets, new lighting, etc.) is a good sample of what it ‘s like being a GC. You will get a taste of applying for permits, getting and picking estimates, scheduling your subcontractors, and the inspection process. Once you have done this, and are still eager to be your own GC, do it! If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, hire a professional General Contractor.
Part 2: Advice on being your own General Contractor.