Read This Before You Become Your Own Contractor

Read This Before You Become Your Own Contractor

Are you ready to be your one contractor? While it is a big responsibility, you can ensure that you get what you want for your construction project. You will need to balance your finances and subcontractors on the job site. If you have a knack for solving problems and keeping everything on track, then this might be a good idea to be your own contractor. Before you make that leap, here are a few things that you will need to know. 

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Pros and Cons of Being Your Own Contractor

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Many people take on the role of a contractor to save money. When you hire a general contractor, they will add about 20 to 30% to the cost of the materials and labor. If you are your own contractor, you don't have to pay those higher percentages. 

However, saving money should not be your only focus. If the finished project is not up to your standards, you cannot complain to anyone. You are responsible for the project and must ensure that the subcontractors are doing their jobs. For example, if you hire a subcontractor and something goes wrong, that's your problem. With a general contractor, these professionals will solve any issues and get the job done. Yes, you pay more for their services, but you are paying for their competence, experience, and guidance. The general contractors will handle all of the permits, the scheduling, and dispute between supplies and subcontractors.

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When you take on the general contractor's job, you will have some sleepless nights. While you will not have to swing a hammer or strap on the toolbelt, you still need to oversee the entire process. Budgeting, schedules, and disputes will all fall into your hands

As previously mentioned, being your own contractor means getting the right result for your vision. A general contractor makes money on a project when the job is completed within a specific timeframe. When you make changes, that can extend the project, causing the general contractor to be uncooperative. If you focus on the details and don't have a problem looking over the plans, then the contractor role might be an excellent choice for you

Key Elements of a General Contractor Role

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There are many responsibilities with the general contractor role. They include: 

Hiring Subcontractors

When you become a general contractor, you need to hire all those subcontractors. These are the workers that will do all of the work for you. They are the plumber's careers, electricians, and any other type of tradesperson. If you want the project to succeed, you need to find the right personnel. The most important here is the carpenter role. This professional will shape the project's structure, helping build the frame for pipes, wires, phone lines, vents, and insulation. The carpenter will be a pivotal player for the project, and this should be your first hire. Since the carpenter will be the primary subcontractor, this professional can help you find a plumber, electrician, and mason. They can make recommendations to hire the right people for the job. 

Like most workers, you can ask your friends, family, and neighbor about recommendations. Take time to visit local job sites in nearby construction areas. You might even find a reliable contractor by driving around in your neighborhood. 

Don't forget about supply houses, like electrical, tile, or plumbing shops. These places should provide you with a couple of names of trustworthy individuals. Once you get a name, make sure to check their references and get a few estimates. Always do your homework before you sign them to a contract.

Many contractors will bid on the job. Make sure to review those estimates so that everything is covered. This is the time to ensure that the subcontractors are licensed and insured. Once you have everyone hired, you need to consider those other responsibilities. 

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When you hire a general contractor, that individual will handle all insurance risks. However, when you take on this role, you need to think about a fire or builder's risk policy. These prices can vary from company to company. You can check with your insurance agent to determine the cost. It is crucial to get this insurance before the workers or material arrive at the site. If you have a construction loan, the bank will insist that you have a valid insurance binder. After the job is completed, you can amend the policy to your standard homeowner's coverage. 

Making the Decision

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You should never take this decision lightly. While saving money is always a plus, there is plenty of potential for conflict and complications. Managing your own project can be a satisfying task, especially if you have the organizational abilities, interpersonal skills, time, and desire to get the job done. Remember that every construction project will have its ups and downs. 

Yes, you can save money, but you will make a big commitment with your time. You will need to establish a work schedule, coordinate the subcontractors, order materials, pay the bills, and perform other functions. As the old saying goes, the "buck will stop" with you. No matter where it is, small or large sections, you must be able to handle it. While you might have other professionals on the site, you will be the voice of authority. 

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Being your own contractor might not be a bad decision if you think you can handle those responsibilities. Take time to thoroughly think about this role before you jump into the position. This is one position that many people would rather pay for an experienced person than deal with the hassles. However, some people thrive in this role. The choice is up to you!

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FAQ Answer
What are the legal responsibilities of being your own contractor? As your own contractor, you are responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and ensuring all legal requirements are met for the construction project. This includes zoning laws and building codes.
How do I manage communication with subcontractors to avoid disputes? Effective communication involves clear and regular updates, setting expectations early, and being proactive in addressing potential issues. It's important to have formal agreements in place detailing the scope of work and payment terms.
What specific skills are most critical for managing a construction project successfully? Key skills include budget management, problem-solving, time management, and understanding basic construction terms and processes. Strong interpersonal skills are also crucial for negotiating with and managing subcontractors.
Are there tools or software recommended for managing construction projects as your own contractor? Yes, there are several project management tools and software designed specifically for construction projects, such as BuilderTREND, CoConstruct, and Procore. These tools help in scheduling, budgeting, communication, and documentation.
What steps should I take if a subcontractor fails to meet the agreed standards? Document the issues in writing, communicate your concerns to the subcontractor, and request corrective actions within a specified timeframe. If problems persist, it may be necessary to terminate their contract and hire someone else, following legal advice.

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  • Ryan Crownholm