Hiring a General Contractor: When You Should and When You Shouldn’t

Filed in Fix and Flip, General by on February 15, 2017 2 Comments

If you are a builder or Fix and Flipper, you have undoubtedly thought about whether or not to outsource the General Contractor (GC) role on your projects.  The obvious benefit to not hiring a GC is the money you will save, but what is the cost to save that money?

A GC is someone that will oversee your project.  They will manage all the subcontractors and help get you to the finish line.  They are generally not as skilled at specific tasks, like plumbing or 1electrical, but might be more organized and should understand the basics of the entire project.

BENEFITS OF ACTING AS YOUR OWN GC

In most cities you will be allowed to act as your own GC as long as it is a smaller job or you hire and manage licensed subcontractors.  General contractors will want to be paid for the value they bring to your project so if you choose not to hire one, that savings will go directly to the bottom line.  Paying less for the rehab could mean more profit for you.

Another benefit of acting as your own GC is the experience you will gain.  As a real estate investor, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what it takes to rehab a house.  This will help you with future projects or come in handy if you ever hire a bad GC.

2Finally, if you don’t have a GC in the way, you will be in much more control.  Not saying it would happen, but I could see when there might be a time when you end up with a bad GC.  Getting a GC off the job is not easy.  They could have their crews working and they might owe their subs money.  Dealing directly with the subs actually doing the work is often times much easier.

BENEFITS OF HIRING A GC

Although I am acting as a co-GC for a house I am building for my girls and I, I am a big believer in using a GC on your projects.  This becomes especially true as you grow as a real estate investor.  It is extremely hard to scale your investing business if you are working in it, so anything you can shift to someone else while still making a profit will help you grow.   Aside from shifting the workload, here are some other reasons why you might consider paying for a GC.

They understand building code and can ensure work is done according to that code.

If you have a good GC, you will save money on your holding costs because they know how to complete a job in an efficient manner.3

It is a great way to shift liability.  If something is not done correctly, you can shift that responsibility to the GC or their insurance.  They should also manage any warranty issues.

They could actually save you money, because often times they have good relationships with subcontractors and get preferred pricing.  This could be true with material suppliers as well.

Although I think it is best for most investors to hire a GC, there are good arguments either way.  It is not a terrible idea to go through some deals without help so you can learn the process. That is 4exactly why I decided to take on that role with my new home.  It also might come down to how much time you have and your ability to do the job.  Most investors can handle smaller jobs without the help of a GC.  Experienced investors can likely handle even large jobs without any help. If you have the time and want to maximize profits, I can see you taking on the GC role, but if you are limited on time or are more interested in growing, you probably want help.

I am a big believer that in order for you to maximize income, you need to focus on two things.  What you are good at and what makes the most money.  In my opinion, finding and negotiating deals is a much higher paying activity than managing subcontractors.  That, and I am learning that not everyone is good at running a project.

Comments (2)

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  1. A general contractor that understands building codes and can ensure work is done according to those rules is an excellent idea. Knowing what you can and cannot do could help you prevent further complications. You would probably want to find a general contractor who will keep you updated on what is happening so that you can make any necessary changes.

  2. Jade Brunet says:

    I am happy to learn that general contractors understand building codes. It is also good to know that they ensure that work is done according to these codes. Interviewing potential contractors before hiring would be a good way to determine whether they have the right communication skills to get the job done and to keep you informed at the same time.

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