When it comes to any large or medium-sized construction project, the majority of the build’s various projects are handled by a general contractor. The general contractor, or GC, will wear many hats across the duration of the job - most commonly “builder”, “contractor”, or “remodeling contractor”. While the reference isn’t that important overall, the quality and integrity of your general contractor may mean the difference between a job being completed on time and under budget… or not. In this article, we will take a look at what a general contractor does, and some tips on how you can pick the right general contractor for your specific build.
Getting To Know A General Contractor
The “general” in a general contractor’s title refers to the various oversight he or she holds throughout the process of the construction process. Typically, before a single beam or board goes up the project owner will bid out the project, seeking to hire a lead contractor who can ensure that every part of the project goes off without a hitch.
Throughout the process of the build, the GC will oversee the purchasing of materials, the hiring of other contractors and teams for each step of the build, and maintain contact between all parties involved. The responsibility of the entire project sits on the shoulder of the general contractor, so it’s imperative that this individual has the experience, expertise, and is a master communicator.
Here are just a few of the general contractor’s duties:
- Estimating, planning, and bidding out project specifics
- Hiring and negotiating contracts and terms with subcontractor teams
- Having knowledge and the ability to retrieve permits and inspections
- Creating and implementing payments for contractors as progress is completed
- Creating schedules for all project work, including subcontractors and deliveries
- Troubleshooting any and all job-site problems and reporting to
Sounds like a big job? It is, and due to the responsibility of the contractor to oversee all of your projects, you should spare no time or expense in carefully choosing the right one for your specific job. Here are a few tips to consider when looking to hire a general contractor for your next build:
Ask Your Other Experts
Consider the opinion of the other professionals you are working with on your build. For instance, project architects can often point you in the direction of some of their favorite contracts that they have used in the past. Consider the project at hand and begin looking for a contractor that is suited to the job. Building a brand new home is quite a different build than simple additions or remodels. Treat this reference process as you would for a lawyer or surgeon. You don’t want to risk hiring a lousy GC, so don’t be afraid to ask around!
Seek References and Reviews
As you narrow down the list of possible GCs, start asking each for their list of reviews and references. Seek out examples of their past work and ask for any contacts that you can reach out and connect with for other opinions. This is also the time to check that the contractor is fully licensed for the work you are seeking. Finally, don’t be afraid to seek a background check - especially if the job is one with high costs involved. Once you have narrowed your search, ask each contractor you are considering for a list of references and call them. Ask about both the quality of the work, the ease of working with the contractor, and whether there were cost overruns. See the list below of “Questions for former clients.”
Go With Your Gut
Just like any other service you hire out, there is always risk involved. When you enter into a contract with a GC, it is important to hire someone who you feel comfortable with throughout the entire process. Spend more time than you think is necessary for getting to know the GC, their communication style, and their work ethic. This will help you know the expectations you should have when working with this individual.
Also, building good rapport ahead of time will help you develop a working relationship that is healthy throughout the entire process. No matter what happens on the job site, you want a GC who is in your corner and ready to communicate with you at a moment’s notice.
When It Comes To Your General Contractor, Don’t Be Afraid To Pay
Depending on the size of your project and the amount of money you are spending to complete it, you may be tempted to hire the lowest-bid GC. However, as we have seen above, the amount of work that a general contractor will oversee for your entire project may be reason enough to consider hiring the GC who is a bit more expensive. Good general contractors will have teams helping them with tasks such as taxes, legal, and even seo for general contractors to help with digital marketing, which allows them to focus on what they’re best at - being a great general contractor.
Remember, there may be a reason that the lowest-priced GC doesn’t charge as much for their services. The next time you set out to hire a contractor, take your time and make sure to find one that not only has the reputation, but the relationship to make your project better than you could have ever imagined!