What is a General Contractor
Think of a General Contractor (GC) as a maestro conducting an orchestra. Obviously, he keeps the beat and cues the musicians during a concert, but he also prepares the musicians in rehearsal. Most importantly, the maestro considers every aspect of the music and how to make it as inspiring as possible, then works to make that vision come alive.
A GC is the orchestrator of a construction project. They manage every aspect of a project from pre-project planning to completion. Before a project even begins, a GC can help determine the scope of a project and value engineer a competitive bid. After that, they will hire vendors, create timelines, and begin working on permitting and entitlements. Then over the course of construction, they are responsible for scheduling and overseeing the day-to-day activities to ensure projects stay on-budget and on schedule.
Just as musicians can perform without a maestro, a project can be completed without a General Contractor. However, things will always go smoother with someone experienced conducting versus without. Managing all of the moving parts requires expert knowledge and you’ll usually be better off letting a GC, a maestro of construction, “conduct” your project.
When to Hire a General Contractor
While a GC can be a valuable asset for most construction projects, there are times when you may not need one. Smaller projects that can be completed by in-house staff or maintenance crews may not benefit from a GC. An example of a project that wouldn’t benefit from a General Contractor would be a small number of unit make readies. Usually these types of projects consist of basic flooring replacement, paint, and a few repairs and can be completed by a property’s maintenance team. Another project that is usually out of scope for a general contractor is a single-vendor project like paint only. For these jobs, you’d be saving money and better off just hiring a painting subcontractor.
Scenarios where you’ll see the most benefit by hiring a GC:
Multi-Phase Projects – These projects can include bundles of units needing to be renovated over a period of time or a project that relies on a phase being completed before moving on to the next. These projects usually span over longer periods of time and require many vendors to be managed, strict project timelines to be met, and constant oversight from superintendents, project managers, and project coordinators.
You Don’t Have Connections to Required Vendors – Without the proper connections, finding the right vendors and tradesmen at the right price can be a struggle.
Projects Requiring Multiple Trades/Vendors – There is a lot of work that goes into managing all of the moving pieces in a project requiring many vendors. Oftentimes success requires full time attention from a construction team made up of a superintendent, project manager, project coordinator, and project director.
You Don’t Have Construction Staff In-House – You may have in house staff that knows their way around a toolbox, but do they know how to do it all? Can they do flooring, tile, plumbing, electrical, drywall, and mechanical jobs? Do they know the current building codes? What happens if they make a mistake? Since it was your under qualified staff completing the job, YOU could be on the hook for liability!
You Don’t Have Time to Manage the Project Yourself – If your job requires you to do more than just manage your construction project, essentially making you a general contractor, you may not have the capacity to do it yourself. Save yourself the headache and hire a GC if you’re unsure if you need one or not.
Why Hire a General Contractor
At this point, you probably know whether or not you could benefit from hiring a General Contractor, but you’re probably wondering what benefits you’ll see when you decide to hire one. A good GC will help you save time and money while giving you peace of mind by transferring liability and a better chance of completing your project on time and on budget.
Key benefits of hiring a GC for your project:
Save Money – A general contractor can save you money on your project by taking advantage of existing relationships, negotiating price with subs and suppliers, and managing the work efficiently to avoid extra costs.
Expert Insight – An experienced GC has likely seen it all. This means they can bring a level of expertise to a project that others may not have and be prepared for any challenges that may come your way. They will also take a proactive approach when planning a project to minimize risk along the way.
Peace of Mind – When you hire a GC, you offload every aspect of your project including creating timelines, hiring vendors, dealing with permitting, code compliance, zoning, entitlements, construction management, and more which will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on growing your assets.
Transfer of Liability – GCs are licensed and insured. When they take on your project, you transfer a lot of the liability onto them. A GC will be in charge of ensuring the safety of vendors and subcontractors, providing insurance, and dealing with construction regulating bodies like OSHA. A qualified GC will know the ins and outs of licensing and insurance, so you don’t have to.
Save Time – Effectively coordinating and executing numerous operations while monitoring the entire construction process is a full-time job. Understanding the intricacies of permitting, scheduling, procurement of materials, inspections, and subcontractor management are skills acquired through decades of experience. When you hire a GC you receive a single point of contact that will handle all communication with other parties involved such as architects, interior designers, engineers, and material suppliers.
Selecting a general contractor that aligns with your needs and the goals of your project can feel like a daunting task. Choosing the right GC could be the difference between an on-budget, on-schedule project and a massive headache. The right GC will help you stay on track and achieve a high ROI.
Check out our blog post “How to Pick the Right General Contractor” if you’re serious about hiring a Commercial General Contractor. This article will show you how to find the best of the best and rule out underqualified GCs.