Quick recap, you’ve weighed the pros and cons and chose to be your own General Contractor (GC); you’ve also jumped the initial insurance and bank hurdles. Now it’s time to find contractors to give you estimates. As a general rule of thumb 3-5 estimates are a good comparison. Start with 3 and if you have one estimate that is drastically different (low or high) get another estimate; or if one contractor you met with made you feel uncomfortable, get another estimate. The goal is to feel confident in the contractor and their crew’s ability to do quality work.
When picking subcontractors, look for companies that can offer full service within their interior or exterior fields. The more they can do the less contractors you have to coordinate schedules through. For example, if you find a roofing company that also offers siding and gutters, get estimates for all three. If you go with a multi-service company, they will schedule the workers accordingly and if any delays arise they already know and will accommodate, again, less work for you as the GC. Look for companies with a reputable background, local office, have longevity, and have all the necessary licenses per state requirements. A good place to start is to call around to builders and ask for recommendations or who does their work.
Many homeowners think they can shop around and purchase materials cheaper than the contractors. However, this is rarely the case, and if it is the case, you might be looking at lower quality materials. The reason? Many contractors have a standing relationship with their supplier and get discounted rates based on the annual volume of materials that contractor buys from that supplier. Contractors often purchase their materials in bulk, which results in a discount. If you decide you still want to purchase the materials yourself, you are in charge of determining the amount of materials and what materials for the job. If the contractor installing the work is NOT providing the material, they will not spend the extra time coming up with a material list for you (unless otherwise compensated). If any additional material is needed while installing, whoever purchased the materials is required to supplement. If the contractor supplies the material, they can arrange for the supplier to send the needed material quicker than calling you, the GC, to get it. If you do decide to still purchase the materials yourself, shop a few different suppliers and make sure the quality of products are equal.
Typically, the builder or GC is in charge of getting all the necessary permits for each step. It may raise your estimate a bit, but specifically ask that each contractor get the permits themselves. Why? For a few reasons: A homeowner can pull any building permits for their own property without having any state required licenses. If the contractor pulls the permit, this ensures that they have all the proper licenses and insurance, because they cannot obtain the permit with out it. Contractors are also more familiar with the permit process and won’t get hung up by overlooking details.
When commencing work, it’s a good idea to have your contractors sign a document that says something similar to the following even if they are properly insured and covered with workers compensation.
“The Contractor expressly agrees that it shall be solely responsible for supervising its employees, that it shall comply with all rules, regulations, orders, standards, and interpretations, promulgated pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, including but not limited to training, recordkeeping, providing personal protective equipment, Safety Data Sheets and labeling as required by the right to know standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200
The parties intend that an independent contractor relationship and not employer-employee relationship will be created by the agreement. (YOUR NAME) is interested only in the results to be achieved. The Contractor is responsible for the means and methods of achieving the project goal.”
This basically covers you from any fines or responsibility if OSHA gets involved with an accident or procedures not properly followed.
Lastly, whether you decided to do it yourself or go through a general contractor, enjoy it! You are building your home and it’s an exciting step in your life.