Many people I talk to say they want to act as their own general contractor. They believe if they run their own project they can save money. Some will succeed in doing this; however most will find theyâ€™ve bitten off more than they can chew. We have been hired many times by a homeowner that has gotten in over their head. The old adage about being your own attorney comes to mind.
Choosing the right sub-contractors can be a hard task. Letâ€™s say you want to build a small room addition. Did you know that it could take 10 sub-contractors for that project, one for each phase of the job? If you were to interview 3 for each trade, thatâ€™s 30 different contacts to make. One of the advantages of hiring a general contractor like myself is that I already know which sub-contractors to use. I have gone through a lot of subs over the years, and I remember all the bad ones. Yes, it is possible to get lucky just by opening up the yellow pages or calling someone out of the paper but how lucky are you feeling today? The subs I use have been cultivated from years of experience. I am given a lower price from them because I use them over and over. Even if a person were to call the subs that I use, the price they would give them wouldnâ€™t come close to the price they would give me. Sub-contractors may have experienced problems with a naive homeowner doing their own project. This could make them nervous and could cause them to raise their price to you even more.
An important part of my job is scheduling the subs. This is an area that is very tricky. Most subs have a lead-time. In other words it may take them a week or more from the time you call them until they can get to your job. I get quicker service because I use them week in and week out. If you are not ready for them the day they show up a trip charge can be assessed plus you might have to wait a week for them to return. There are certain parts of projects that arenâ€™t covered by subs. Those things will need to be done before you can proceed. The subs will not go out of their way to talk you through this.
I like to think I can sell a job at a price that will allow me to make a profit while the homeowner benefits from my years of practical knowledge. I have been in this business for close to thirty years, and I have learned a lot from my mistakes. People who think they can run a project and not make mistakes are fooling themselves. If you make one error, it can wipe out any savings you might have had. Time is another factor. Most people are employed full-time. If you were to try and run a job in your spare time, it could drag on forever. The building department is very wary of homeowners “playing” contractor and the inspectors will certainly be looking for code violations. The codes are changing all the time. Itâ€™s quite a task just keeping up with them.
Itâ€™s your house and your money. Consider how you can best create your dreams with the least amount of negative impact on your daily life. Construction doesnâ€™t have to be a nightmare. Itâ€™s up to you!
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