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Hire a General Contractor or Be Your Own? That is the Question!

19 February 2015

One of the biggest choices you have when undertaking a new construction or large remodeling project is whether or not to act as your own general contractor or render the services of a professional. Many Americans face this decision without knowing the best route to take. We are going to give you some pointers that will help make your decision an easy one!

“I will save so much money being my own general!”

This is a loaded statement all in itself. If you are person who is highly organized, detail-orientated and are able to make clear decisive decisions, being your own general contractor may work out well. You also need to be highly knowledgeable about the materials and labor required, as you will most likely need to contact multiple companies, and the order in which they perform their work is crucial to the success of the project. You also must be available at a moment’s notice and be able to spend a lot of time at the site, which is not always feasible for working homeowners.

While in a perfect world, acting as your own general contractor could save you up to 30%, the ramifications of incorrect decisions that lead to the same work having to be completed twice could cost you even more overall. A more realistic savings approach to being your own general could fall in the 10%-20% if there are no hiccups.

Clear vision of the work to be done and the final product.

If you are planning on being you own general, do your homework by reading trade magazines, going to home shows, driving around neighborhoods getting inspiration and looking at floor plans. is a great place to start a vision board for your project. Another large part of the planning process is finding the right sub-contractors that fit your budget are easy to get along with and are insured. Always keep in mind that the lowest bidder may not be the best fit for your project.

This is where hiring a general plays a huge role in helping understand your vision and knowing the process(s) to make it all happen. They have experience with what works and definitely what doesn’t. They understand building codes, what products would best in certain situations, etc. They will also be able to address any issues that may arise regarding delays; materials and laborers better than you will be able to.

Financing your project

It’s a foolish decision to only explore your current financial institution for financing your project. It can be in your best interest if you are acting as your own general to take out separate loans for construction and then your final mortgage, allowing your construction loan to be more elastic if you need to take out more money. If you combine your construction loan and mortgage, you are locked into construction costs and if you go over by the normal 10%, you will be going back to the bank asking for another loan.

The bottom line

When deciding whether or not to be your own general remember that there are no guarantees, no matter how careful you think you are being and many things can go wrong from the subs you hired going bankrupt, material prices rising and even adverse weather. Our suggestion would be to hire a reputable general contractor to make sure that your new home improvement or building project goes perfect as planned.