Friday, January 16, 2009

Be Your Own General Contractor – A Good Choice For You?

We speak with many homeowners building timber frame homes who would like to save money by becoming their own general contractor. While it may be possible to save between 10% - 20% of project costs, it’s important to take into account all of the responsibilities and the enormous investment of time. Think of being your own general contractor as being the president of your company. You will be required to

Be available when needed and be on the job site as required, for an undetermined amount of time every day

Have more than an average understanding of timber framing and home building

Set a construction schedule and meet strict deadlines

Juggle multiple tasks

Manage groups of people with different schedules and communication skills

Effectively work with the subcontractors

Check and sign off on the work performed by the timber framer and each subcontractor

Ensure that the crew is following safety procedures

Be able to solve problems that arise

Handle any schedule or material delays

Manage the financial aspects of the project, including budgeting, purchasing, and paying subcontractors.

As you can imagine, it’s a big responsibility, and if not done correctly, it can cost you more time and money than if you had hired a professional general contractor to oversee your project. General contractors have established relationships with subcontractors and material suppliers, giving them leverage that the average homeowner does not. Also, in some cases, being your own general contractor can make it difficult to find financing, as lenders want to be assured the work is being done by qualified professionals.

Having such an enormous part in building your new home and being your own general contractor can certainly be a rewarding experience. If you want to be fully involved in building your timber frame home but are unsure whether you have what it takes, you might consider hiring a
Home Project Manager to help. Home Project Managers cost less than a general contractor and can help you through parts of the project where you feel inexperienced.
No doubt, the decision to be your own general contractor is a complex one. Know what is involved before undertaking such a big project and make the best decision for you.

Jackie Lampiasi
Bonin Architects & Associates, PLLC

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