Some companies would have you believe that if you’ve got a computer, a phone, a calendar, and some paper, you’ve got all the tools you need to be your own general contractor and build your dream home.
That’s clear a huge oversimplification. But for some, the idea of taking the entire construction project from start to finish sounds like a thrilling challenge.
Having the ability to call all the shots sounds good, but there are pros and cons to consider before taking the plunge.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why people consider becoming their own Oklahoma general contractor, and what the pitfalls may be.
You’re the Boss
Because you are the boss, the buck stops with you. (Which can be a good thing or a bad thing.)
Calling The Shots
We’ve all heard the stories about contractors going way over budget or making careless mistakes that cost thousands of dollars. And there are stories about GC’s who actually tell a homeowner what they want rather than listen to their client’s opinions and concerns.
To be able to call all the shots on a job sounds pretty attractive. You’re in charge of every detail right down to the color of tile in your custom master bath. If the wrong color tile arrives, you won’t have to referee a fight between subcontractors!
Because you’re not a professional GC, you’ve got to be careful to hire only the best subs. If you’ve hired good, ethical subcontractors, you can achieve the level of quality you expect despite your inexperience. Just remember, you’ve also got to manage any problems that might arise.
If you’re dealing with a problematic subcontractor, there’s no one else to sort it out. And if a big issue arises, you’ve only got yourself and the knowledge you bring to the project to fall back on.
Since GC’s generally act as a go-between, they can provide a buffer, facilitating a good working relationship with a sub. Since the GC manages all the subcontractors, they already know which are— and aren’t— ethical, reliable and deliver excellent results. As your own general contractor, hiring a reputable subcontractor could be a gamble.
A general contractor can draw on a vast well of experience and knowledge to solve any problems a lot faster than you could on your own. And time is money. When vetting a GC, be sure to ask if they’re a member of the Oklahoma Construction Board Industries, and be sure they have an active contractor license.
You Control the Costs
One of the biggest reasons people consider becoming their own general contractor is to save money.
It is possible to save money by being your own GC. But let’s be very clear: you only save if every step of the process from start to finish goes exactly as planned. There are many moving parts, so you’ve got to be willing (and able) to manage all of them efficiently if you expect to save any money.
Be Honest About Your Skill
You’ve got to be highly organized and have a solid foundation of financial and business knowledge to keep the project on time and within budget. Do an honest assessment of your strengths and abilities. If you have the right skill set, consider being your own GC. A lack of knowledge, experience, and organization can backfire, costing you more money than you hoped to save.
It’s true that by being your own GC you’re not absorbing a general contractor’s profit margin or overhead. Just be aware that you will have to provide all the overhead services for everything from bookkeeping to subcontractor hiring that a contractor’s office would normally provide.
Plan To Plan
The old adage holds true: fail to plan, plan to fail.
If your goal is to save money, your initial plan has to be realistic, well constructed and precise.
And everything must go exactly to plan.
One of the first and most critical steps in any building process is smart planning. If your master plan is based on iffy numbers and bad assumptions, you’re guaranteed to run into big headaches, discouraging delays, and cost overruns.
Part of a general contractor’s job is to minimize costs. In most cases, they have access to things like bulk discounts and special relationships with subcontractors that aren’t available to the general public. In fact, by being your own GC, you could miss out on big cost savings.
The Cost Of Inexperience
Never underestimate the potential for huge mistakes and even bigger costs that can accompany inexperience. If you special order twenty-two pieces of custom hardware in the wrong size, you’re looking at delays that can cost thousands and throw off the master plan in a big way.
Yes, you’re working on your own schedule, but that schedule may not be the one you have in mind!
The Final Analysis
If you’ve got solid project management skills, have at least some background in finance and business, and want to tell people that you built your dream home all by yourself, becoming your own general contractor may be an excellent choice for you. The rest of us are probably much better off hiring a general contractor, skipping the costly mistakes and delays that so often result with inexperience.
If you want to build your forever home but don’t know where to start, let’s talk!
Turner & Son Homes has more than five decades of experience. Our business is turning dreams into reality.
The current home on our property has been in existence for over 80 years. We love our property, and made our decision to build our new house there. Turner and Son was the first company we considered and we didn't have to look any further.