Hiring a general contractor to oversee your construction project will take some of the burden from your shoulders but you’ll still have to make some decisions. A general contractor can also be a “building contractor” if he has his own crew of workers to complete the construction project. Before hiring a general contractor, it’s wise to know what services you can expect.
A general contractor has the expertise to make a project run smoothly, consulting with architects and engineers, taking out the required building permits and ensuring that your project conforms to local and state building codes. The contractor may also meet with homeowner associations, utility contractors and the various specialty subcontractors necessary to complete the project.
In addition to contacting the subcontractors and handling all the contracts, the general contractor will devise a project timeline and schedule each subcontractor accordingly. Because subcontractors depend upon repeat work assignments from general contractors, they may be more likely to respond in a timely fashion to projects when a contractor is involved. The contractor also serves as the go-between with building inspectors to ensure that the project is safe.
If the building project is large, like a new home, the owner will take out a builder’s risk policy to protect her investment in the ongoing labor and material expenses. However, a general contractor may carry additional liability insurance, offering more financial protection for the homeowner. The general contractor also carries workers compensation insurance if he has a crew, and he ensures that all subcontractors do as well, reducing potential lawsuits against the homeowner for injuries that may occur.
A general contractor may never pick up a hammer. Depending upon the scope of his business, he may assign a supervisor or a project manager to oversee the actual construction while he deals with the business end of contracting. He will charge a fee for every service he offers, usually as an additional percentage of the bill charged by subcontractors and a fee on all materials. Unless the state in which you live requires a warranty on the quality of the work, the general contractor may not provide one.