Be Your Own General Contractor. Here's How
Any building project, especially a personal one, such as a home remodel, can be exciting. Traditionally, people hire general contractors to oversee and manage projects. But can you be your own contractor?
Being your own general contractor means you take on this role yourself and handle all the responsibilities and risks involved.
A general contractor is the main point of contact and coordination for a construction project. They create a detailed plan and budget for the project based on the client’s specifications and goals. They estimate the costs, timelines and resources needed and negotiate contracts with subcontractors and suppliers.
They hire and oversee the work of various subcontractors, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters. General contractors ensure the subcontractors are qualified, licensed, insured and reliable and that they follow the project’s schedule and specifications.
General contractors obtain the necessary permits and approvals from local authorities and agencies and arrange for regular inspections and quality checks throughout the project. They ensure the project complies with the building codes, regulations and standards.
They deal with issues or challenges that may arise during the project, such as delays, changes, errors, accidents or disputes. They also communicate with the client, the subcontractors and the authorities and find solutions and alternatives to keep the project on track and within budget.
Being your own general contractor means you assume the role and responsibilities of a general contractor for your own project. You oversee the planning, hiring, managing and obtaining for everything related to your project without hiring a professional general contractor. You also act as your own boss and have more control and flexibility over your project. A major potential benefit is saving money by eliminating the general contractor’s fee and markup.
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Being your own general contractor isn't an easy task. It requires a lot of time and effort, as well as the knowledge and skills needed to manage the project safely and efficiently. It also involves a lot of risks and liabilities, including legal, financial and safety issues. Before you decide to be your own general contractor, consider the following:
Step 1: Evaluate the Scale of the Project
You must assess the scope and complexity of your project and determine whether you have the experience, expertise and resources to handle it. You should also consider your availability, commitment and personality and whether you're comfortable making decisions, negotiating contracts, supervising workers and dealing with problems.
Step 2: Learn About What’s Involved in the Project
You'll have to educate yourself on the various aspects of your project, such as the design, materials, costs, codes, permits and inspections. You should also research the local market and regulations and find the best subcontractors and suppliers for your project. Additionally, you should consult with experts, such as architects, engineers or lawyers, as required.
Step 3: Create a Well-Developed Plan
You must create a comprehensive and realistic plan and budget for your project based on your goals and specifications. You should include the scope, schedule, costs and contingencies of your project and break it down into manageable phases and tasks. Also, you should prepare a contract and a payment schedule for your subcontractors and suppliers and review it carefully before signing it.
Step 4: Locate and Hire Subcontractors
You'll have to hire and manage your subcontractors and suppliers and ensure they're qualified, licensed, insured and reliable. You should also communicate with them regularly and monitor their work and progress. Additionally, they’ll expect you to pay them on time and keep track of their invoices and receipts.
Step 5: Get Permits and Learn About Building Codes
You must obtain your permits and inspections from the local authorities and agencies and ensure your project complies with local building codes, regulations and standards. You should also keep copies of all the documents and records related to your project and be prepared for any audits or disputes.
Step 6: Handle the Project and Put Out Fires
You’ll need to solve problems, handle emergencies and be ready for any changes, errors, accidents or conflicts that may occur during your project. You’ll need to communicate effectively with your subcontractors and local authorities, as well as find solutions and alternatives to keep your project on track and within budget.
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