Is it Worth Being Your Own General Contractor?

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Home improvement projects can be costly and time-consuming, with unexpected delays and mistakes. This may make you consider being your own general contractor to oversee the project and ensure everything is done correctly. However, before taking on this role, it’s important to understand the responsibilities involved. A general contractor coordinates the work of subcontractors and is responsible for hiring them, ordering materials, scheduling, bookkeeping, and more. While this may seem appealing, it’s important to consider the scope of the project, whether you need a loan, and your own experience in the field. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of being your own general contractor.

Why Take Control?

If you have the necessary skills, being your own general contractor can save you money by allowing you to do some of the renovation tasks yourself.

The main reason to act as your own general contractor (GC) is to save money. GCs charge a percentage on labor and materials costs to make a profit, which can range from 10 to 30 percent. By being your own GC, you can keep this percentage in your pocket. Additionally, you might be able to eliminate the need for a subcontractor and complete certain tasks yourself if you have the necessary skills and experience. However, it’s not necessary to have extensive knowledge of every trade to be a GC. Time-management, organizational, and cost-savings skills can also be useful. Being your own GC also gives you more control over a project and allows you to manage bids from subcontractors and for materials. On the other hand, there are also reasons to leave it to the professionals, such as their ability to access bulk discounts on materials, their experience in knowing the best people for the job, and their ability to offer ongoing work in the future. Inexperience can also lead to mistakes, which can cause financial and scheduling issues.

Becoming your own general contractor can be a challenging task, as you will need to convince good subcontractors to work for you and negotiate prices, draw up contracts, and take responsibility for getting I-9s and tax documents. In some states, you will need to be registered or licensed as a GC, and you may need specific licenses to work on certain projects. You will also be responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and dealing with any inspections that come along with the process. It is generally not recommended for those without construction industry knowledge, but it can be a way to save money if you are willing to put in the time to learn.

For more information, check out related articles on why to hire a contractor, questions to ask a prospective contractor, and what to expect from a contractor. Sources such as BobVila.com and Contractor’s-license.org can also provide valuable information.

FAQ

1. What does being your own general contractor mean?

Being your own general contractor means that you will be responsible for overseeing your home construction project and hiring subcontractors, rather than hiring a professional general contractor to manage everything for you.

2. What are the advantages of being your own general contractor?

The main advantage of being your own general contractor is cost savings. You will not be paying a professional general contractor to manage your project, which can save you a lot of money. Additionally, you will have more control over the project and can make changes or adjustments as needed.

3. What are the disadvantages of being your own general contractor?

The main disadvantage of being your own general contractor is the amount of work and responsibility that comes with it. You will need to have a good understanding of the construction process and be able to manage subcontractors effectively. You also risk making mistakes that could cost you more money in the long run.

4. What skills do I need to be my own general contractor?

You will need to have a good understanding of the construction process, including knowledge of building codes, permits, and subcontractor roles. You will also need to have strong organizational and communication skills to manage the project effectively.

5. Should I be my own general contractor if I have no construction experience?

If you have no construction experience, it is not recommended that you be your own general contractor. You risk making mistakes and not being able to manage the project effectively. It is better to hire a professional general contractor to manage the project for you.

6. How much money can I save by being my own general contractor?

The amount of money you can save by being your own general contractor depends on the size and complexity of the project. However, it is common to save 10-20% of the total project cost by being your own general contractor.

7. How do I decide if being my own general contractor is right for me?

You should consider your construction knowledge, organizational and communication skills, and time availability. If you have the necessary skills and time to manage the project effectively, being your own general contractor can save you money. However, if you lack the necessary skills or are short on time, it is better to hire a professional general contractor to manage the project for you.

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