Want to fix a sink? Install tiles in your kitchen? Or remodel your bathroom? Well, it’s easy to appoint different handymen for your individual jobs. But things get tricky and overwhelming when you want to accomplish big-ticket projects, like building a house, remodeling your office, etc.
In such cases, it’s best to leave the job to the experts. Known as General Contractors, these superheroes act as a one-stop-shop for all your construction needs. Fully equipped and highly experienced, they take care of your entire construction project right from start to finish.
What are general contractors?
In simple terms, general contractors act as intermediaries between your design, construction, and redevelopment teams and coordinate the entire workflow. Right from hiring the experts to managing their work schedules to ordering materials and doing paperwork, they take the entire construction workload off your shoulders. They ensure the hassle-free inception and completion of the project.
Types of general contractors
General contractors are of two different types:
- Traditional general contractor
A traditional contractor is someone who takes up a project planned and designed by an architect or designer. They take care of every aspect of the construction and ensure its successful completion, but only after the designing stage.
- Design-build contractor
A design-build contractor offers end-to-end support for your entire construction project. Right from conceptualizing the design to overseeing its completion, they make sure everything is completed to perfection. A design-build contractor usually has an in-house team of architects and design staff. They stay involved throughout the entire process and make sure everything is getting completed as per the design and plan.
Services provided by a general contractor
Think of a general contractor as your event manager who takes care of the entire event planning and execution. But they will not bake a cake or design invitations. They will have people to do all those jobs.
Similarly, a general contractor specializes in the planning and execution of various aspects of the projects, including roofing, tiling, painting, and more. They’ll hire teams to do specific jobs and will make sure everything is done to perfection. While the sub-contractors take care of different construction chores, your general contractor will be responsible for providing the labor, equipment, and necessary materials.
Jobs that a general contractor can handle include:
- Remodeling and renovation
- Electric and plumbing
- Woodworking and siding
Additional responsibilities of a general contractor
Right from taking care of the equipment and material to estimating the budget and hiring resources, general contractors are essentially responsible for almost every aspect of construction. Additionally, they would also be responsible for:
- Obtaining building permits and doing all the necessary paperwork
- Adhering to construction rules and regulations
- Site evaluation, engineering, and monitoring
- On-site personnel management
- Hiring and managing subcontractors
- Creating plans and meeting deadlines
- Safety and security of the workforce
- Quality control and waste management
- Site security
- Providing all the required facilities on site
Points to keep in mind while hiring a general contractor
Since general contractors have absolute control over the entire construction project, appointing the right person for the job is one of your most critical missions. Here are some points that you must always keep in mind:
General contractors are highly qualified people, with most of them having a degree in civil engineering, construction management, or building science.
A degree in construction or engineering helps general contractors expertly understand the rules of the trade, like different construction methods, different materials, and their advantages. It also helps them understand architectural design plans and prepare a site for construction.
Different states have different licensing requirements for general contractors. Make sure the contractor you are hiring complies with the practicing rules laid by your state. These may include proof of business address, tax ID number, and proof of contractor liability insurance.
Practical knowledge and experience
While hiring a general contractor for your construction or redevelopment project, make sure they have some years of practical experience. Most general contractors first work as sub-contractors and then advance to supervisory roles. Check if the person you are hiring has sufficient experience under their belt. Their experience makes them proficient in hiring qualified sub-contractors, estimating the cost and budget of the project, and managing costs and expenses.
Ask your general contractor about their team strength. Find out how many experts are working with them, their in-house staff and who are the other sub-contractors that they partner with. This will help you know if they are equipped enough to match up to your project requirements. It will also help you learn if their team will be able to complete your project without any delays or roadblocks.
General liability insurance
Most independent contractors are protected by insurance coverage. Known as the general liability insurance for contractors, the insurance aims to protect the contractor and the project owner from all types of property damage that may occur during construction.
So, to stay safe, while hiring a general contractor, make sure they have taken the appropriate insurance for contractors.
Hiring a general contractor
If you have a big-ticket project at hand, hiring a general contractor should be your best bet. With complete building process knowledge and years of expertise, they can help you successfully undertake the project and complete it to perfection.
Experts in their trade, general contractors can help you streamline and organize the workflow by allowing you to have steady control over your finances and other project requirements. In short, a general contractor can help you save both your time and money.
But while hiring a general contractor, do your homework right. Find out everything about their past projects; check some of their previous works, and speak to their previous customers for their testaments. Find out if they were able to complete all their projects in time, without any delays or discrepancies. Ask them if they are licensed and covered by insurance. Find out about their past claims and complaints with your local Better Business Bureau.
And last but not least, ask them to give you a detailed project cost or their bid for your project. It should include the project cost, cost for material, labor, and fee that they will pay to the sub-contractors. The bid breakup will help you to understand if they are charging a fair amount of money from you and if their bid is well within your estimated budget.
Remember, when it comes to construction, renovation, and repairs, hiring the right team makes all the difference. Though a handyman is enough to handle your honey-do list, when planning a home improvement project that requires a major overhaul, general contractors prove to be one of your biggest assets. The knowledge they have and the experience they bank upon are second to none.
By thoughtfully organizing, planning, and executing your project, general contractors can help you complete your construction work on time and well within your stipulated budget.
So, do your research and partner with a specialist who can take your construction project on a route to success.