Whether you’re undertaking a new building project or doing simple renovations, you’ll have to balance price, quality, and time. To help you select the best mix of the three, one of my best construction tips is to hire a general contractor that has experience in your area. This general contractor should have existing relationships with local subcontractors, know who delivers quality work, and understand how to manage a project so it gets finished on time.
To give you an idea of your other options, let’s compare working with subcontractors versus general contractors.
Benefits of working with a subcontractor
When you work with subcontractors in a construction project, you need to find someone skilled and qualified to handle electricity, plumbing, carpeting, HVAC, roofing, counter tops, doors, windows, and more. It takes 22 subcontractors to build the average home.
In our experience, it takes 6 to 11 subcontractors for a typical bath or kitchen remodel.
- Counter tops
- Trim Carpentry
Once you have the subcontractors you need, you then have to manage their schedule so everything gets done in the proper order as efficiently as possible. This balancing act is something that you can perfect through study, experience, and usually mistakes, but it takes time.
- You can talk, negotiate, and learn directly from the specialists in their field.
- One-part projects (for example, new tiles in your kitchen) will be less expensive than a general contractor.
- Subcontractors tend to have flexible schedules.
Benefits of working with a general contractor
When you hire a general contractor, you hire a team with the experience and education to handle a build seamlessly. A general contractor finds reliable subcontractors, the best price, takes care of scheduling and invoicing, manages the employees, and does safety checks. General contractors are able to guide a project through the different legal steps as well; from a city inspection to acquiring a permit. In some cases, this can become an expensive process that takes months of time without a general contractor. As an added bonus, general contractors usually get better subcontractor rates, since they’re likely to be repeat customers. When you work with subcontractors, not only do you have to find them, you also have to take the time to vet them, and worry about every pay order, invoice, and schedule.
- If you get a subcontractor referral from a general contractor, you’re likely to get a better rate.
- There are some projects wherein a general contractor is needed to pass the city permit and inspection process. Adding on to your home, building a new home, or remodels involving multiple trades typically require city permits.
- General contractors are able to guide clients through city inspections, city code requirements, and other permits needed.
- Quality assurance goes through multiple checks.
- Materials, scheduling, and management of the project is taken care of comprehensively by experienced teams.
- You don’t have to plan or communicate as far in advance.
- Costly mistakes are often avoided when utilizing a general contractor and their expertise & resources.
Overall, if you have the expertise needed to handle multiple subcontractors at once, or if you only want one thing done (ie. re-grout the floors), then hiring subcontractors may be more cost efficient for you. However, if you’re just beginning a project or don’t know subcontractors in your area, a general contractor knows who to go with, can mastermind the scheduling, and will bring years of expertise to your project. Also, since general contractors and subcontractors work together often, a general contractor may get you special rates.
Questions to ask your general contractor
In order to ensure you select the right general contractor for the job, considering asking them the following questions;
- Are you licensed?
- How long have you been working in the industry? What about in the area?
- Do you have insurance for the construction period?
- What would my schedule look like?
- Who will be on-site throughout the project?
- Do you offer any guarantees on your work, and if so, what are they?
- What would my payment schedule be?
- Is there any part of my project that concerns you?
- What documentation will you give me once the job is done?
- What’s the best way to reach you during and after office hours?
- Where can I find examples of your past work?
Task Pros Contracting is a general contractor that handles many aspects of construction. This includes everything from a new kitchen to a new build from the ground up. To learn more about how we can help you build your future projects, contact us or take a look at one of our other projects.