Home Construction - 15 Reasons Why Being Your Own General Contractor Is a Bad Idea

Unless you are a professional builder/general contractor or you have a close friend or relative who is and would be willing to work with you at all times, acting as your own building contractor, more often than not, can have disastrous results.

Countless times we have seen homeowners who have chosen to do their own home construction contracting with the intention of saving money only to spend far more on the construction budget than they would have spent had they hired a builder to handle the whole project in the first place.

The idea of saving money by being your own general contractor is a myth

General contracting is a serious undertaking which requires the services of a licensed professional. The following often overlooked but very important reasons contribute to costly and unfavorable home construction results when homeowners undertake the duties of a professional general contractor themselves:

  1. Lack of knowledge regarding up-to-date building code rules and regulations can result in code violations, failed building inspections and the need for costly reconstruction delays.
  2. Inexperience with the building process and construction procedures will adversely affect scheduling of subcontractors. Work performed out of sequence can result in poor quality and often require the need for expensive fixes and reconstruction.
  3. Inability to schedule subcontractors in a way that optimizes work conditions can be very disruptive. Too many different subs working at once can cause confusion and make supervision more difficult. Workers stumbling over each other and getting in each others' way can result in expensive mistakes and costly damages many of which are not discovered until it's too late.
  4. Unfamiliarity with the in-between job prep necessary to optimize each sub-contracting project can cause construction delays. Each sub-contracting job needs to be properly completed and ready for the next construction phase. Not handling all the intricacies properly can cause delays and unnecessary extra expenses.
  5. Lack of knowledge regarding the proper building materials and supplies can result in delays and re-stocking fees when re-ordering the correct supplies.
  6. Inability to coordinate timely delivery of building materials can also result in delays and rescheduling sub-contracting work.
  7. Poor command of job-site logistics will result in materials being off-loaded to improper strategic areas. This can make access for workers difficult and inconvenient, further adding to the delays and construction budget.
  8. As a non-professional, pricing discounts are not always available from suppliers for a one-time only job. As repeat customers, general contractors and builders receive much better pricing and billing advantages which are then passed on to the homeowner.
  9. As a one-time only job, subcontractors will not provide the same discount pricing to homeowners that they give to their builders. Professional builders can offer their subs a continuous flow of jobs and income.
  10. As a non-repeat job, subcontractors will not provide the same favorable treatment to homeowners that they give to their regular general contractor. It's only natural that they would give preferential treatment to their regular employer, showing up at those jobs first and going the extra mile.
  11. Although they may get recommendations for subcontractors from good sources, homeowners will not have firsthand knowledge regarding the quality of work. Professional builders with at least several years of experience will have weeded-out poor quality subs.
  12. Along the same lines, homeowners will not be familiar with the personality and behavior pattern of a subcontractor, something that is just as important for a good working rapport.
  13. Homeowners don't generally have all the equipment and tools that builders have which are necessary to properly carry out the entire construction project. This can result in the need for expensive purchases and rentals.
  14. For the inevitable call-backs and repairs for which your general contractor is responsible only one phone call will be needed.
  15. General contracting is a full-time job requiring a major commitment of attention and energy over a period of at least six months to one year. Homeowners would certainly have to abandon their regular duties or employment to properly deal with such a significant commitment.

For these reasons the tempting desire to save the customary contractor mark-up by acting as your own general contractor can end up costing you much more money and headaches in the long run. Consider other safer methods such as smaller, value-engineered house plans that use simplified construction techniques to save on building costs rather than put your new home at risk of becoming a disaster.


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