There are many considerations when trying to decide to hire a general contractor to oversee an entire project, but first we need to define what a general contractor is and what they do.

A general contractor manages a whole project from start to finish. They oversee all parts of a project including estimating costs, getting building permits, and hiring subcontractors. Contractors must also be licensed in the state where the work will take place, and are required to have insurance.  A general contractor does not make the design choices and decisions for you. Their job is to expedite your vision.

The first question that needs to be considered is how complex is the project? Is this a full kitchen remodel or just a kitchen flooring replacement while changing out some faucets and hardware? The latter is very easy to hire subcontractors yourself, the first is not.

If the project is complex like a full kitchen remodel, I highly recommend considering hiring a general contractor.

A general contractor can save you time, money and headache by organizing and expediting the entire process by planning how the whole project is approached by:

  • Estimating how much the project should cost so you can adequately budget.
  • Ordering materials in the correct quantities needed, limiting unexpected expenses.  I don’t know anyone who needs or wants an extra 100 square feet of special order tile because they didn’t carry the 1.
  • Coordinating the subcontractors for the best project timeline helping keep the project on time.  If you have never done this before it is not for the faint of heart. Around here hunting season takes its toll on subcontractor availability.  The problem is there are multiple hunting seasons, then there is also “a good day for fishing” problem.
  • Overseeing the construction process and quality control of finished projects.  Because who has got time for that?

This is general contracting in a nutshell and by no means accounts for all the things that they take care of throughout an entire project.

You must ask yourself a few questions before you decide to tackle subcontracting a project on your own.

  1. Do you know each and every step and the order that things should be done in? Example: when should the electrical rough ins be done on a project.  (If you are asking what a rough in is, you probably should hire a GC)
  2. Do you have the time to take care of organizing the entire project including handling all the problems that will arise?  You are on call 24/7.
  3. Do you know how to calculate the materials and the best places to purchase quality supplies at the best prices?  Better brush up on the new math.
  4. Do you know how to recognize a job done poorly, not to specification, or not to code?  “And it all fell down” are not words you want to hear.

If your answer is no to any of the above, it may be a sign to hire a professional to coordinate and run your project in order to save yourself frustration and your sanity.

So I know you are now wondering what or how general contractors charge.  This can be a mixed bag, but generally they either charge a percentage of building costs or a flat fee.  So for example in my area a GC normally charges 15% to 20% of actual costs on a remodeling project, and 10% on a new build.  So if you have a remodel that has been bid at $100,000, the fee would be $15,000 to $20,000.

I can tell you that one big mistake can cost this much on a complex project like an open concept kitchen/living remodel. How many of y’all have seen the home improvements show that they discover they need a $10K beam to hold up the roof after they have torn out the entire room? Though these shows may be fake, this can really happen if you don’t have the knowledge base.  In other words you don’t know what you don’t know.

I would suggest hiring a General Contractor for any complex project with lots of moving parts and pieces. There is never enough time, energy, and sanity for a first timer trying to contract a complex project.  Being your own GC can feel like you have unknowingly become a player in the game Chutes and Ladders, except in real life. With the spin of a wheel you take two steps forward and you get to climb the tall ladder landing on top with your arms held high above your head, fists clenched in triumph!  Next spin, just when you think you are pulling ahead, you are yanked back into harsh reality as you land on a chute and slide back to the beginning. With great frustration you feel like you are back at square one. Just when you have all the subcontractors lined up on “your” schedule, one just does not show up or call to reschedule.  Now what?

Are you really ready for that much headache, and often heartache, to have the home of your dreams? If not, you should HIRE a licensed reputable general contractor to give you peace of mind, expedite your project, and make sure it is done right, on time and budget. The home of your vision and dreams is just within sight, reach out and grab it.


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