Sunday, November 6, 2011

Being the General Contractor - Part 1 of 2

From time to time, I meet clients that wish to use their own resources for parts of a project I'll be doing for them. Sometimes, the client wants to provide their own materials to avoid paying a small mark-up. Other times, a client will want to bring in a particular individual or company to do a specific job within the project. For example, they know a glass guy that did their mother's friend's uncle's sister-in-law's shower enclosure, and they heard he was the best and cheapest in town. Or, maybe their co-worker's bff's boyfriend's parents had granite counter tops done in the kitchen, and they think they can save a few bucks by bringing them in. You get the idea.

Many contractors out there will not allow this. And, there is good reason for a contractor to have objections to these types of requests. I've known contractors that will walk away from a project, rather than deal with a client's subcontractors and / or material suppliers, and I don't blame them. It can make a project more difficult than it should be. And, although I will do my best to accommodate my client's requests, here's a few good reasons why the client should allow the general contractor to be in charge and do his or her job.



Part of a general contractor's responsibility is to make sure the materials are available when they're needed, in acceptable condition, and meet the specifications as required. The contractor should make every effort to spend only as much money as is required to complete the project on time and within the proposed budget.

As a general contractor, I can tell you that no one wants to complete the job on time and within budget more than the contractor. First, we want to keep the client happy. A homeowner that has their kitchen out of commission for 2 weeks longer than expected is an unhappy client. Same goes for a homeowner whose contractor blew the budget. Second, we have to do our best to stay on time in order to keep our scheduled start date with our next client. No one wants an unhappy client. The general contractor wants the client to come back for their next project, and refer him or her to their friends and family.

When a client takes away from the general contractor the responsibility of handling materials on a project, they are putting the schedule and budget in jeopardy. And, the few bucks the client tried to save by doing so, could easily be wiped out by unnecessary delays to the project. An interruption to the contractor's schedule caused by the client could easily translate into hundreds of dollars in additional charges to the client - blowing the schedule and the budget.

Material delays can happen for any number of reasons. For example, the client might mistakenly purchase the wrong size cabinets. Or, the client didn't order enough of that special order tile that took a week and a half to get. Maybe the client didn't check the lumber for warps and imperfections at the lumber yard. What if those nice faucets the client found on sale online arrived on time, but they were damaged and had to be sent back for replacement. In each of these scenarios, a delay was caused by the client's inability to have the materials on the job as required, causing unnecessary delays to the general contractor's schedule. And, time is money.

A good general contractor is not as hard to find as most people think. It just takes some homework on the part of the client. And, provided the homework has been done, the client has selected his or her general contractor based in part by reviews and recommendations from happy clients. That general contractor will have the know-how and resources needed to run the job smoothly, within budget, and without delay. A client will likely be better off if the general contractor is allowed the control necessary to do the job properly.

Check back soon for Part 2 of this discussion, where we'll talk about subcontractors. Better yet, subscribe to this blog, and don't miss out!  :-)

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