Be your own general contractor.
Whether you want more control over the building process, a profound sense of accomplishment or just to save a few bucks, the temptation to serve as the general contractor for your log- home project can be pretty powerful. But it’s not a decision to make without investing plenty of thought. Here are three things for first-time would- be GCs to consider. 1 REALIZE THERE’S NO ONE-SIZE- FITS-ALL APPROACH. A general contractor is really just a manager, so you can participate in the project in a number of different ways. For those with little to no previous construction experience, stick to paperwork and scheduling of subcontractors. Those who feel more comfortable with the nuts and bolts of construction might take a more hands- on approach. People who have experience with plumbing or electrical work might become a subcontractor to a general contractor and save some money that way.
If you’re worried about the time commitment, take on only as much work as you can complete easily in the evenings and on weekends. The idea is to spend less time than it will take to make you lose your job. 2 DO A TRIAL RUN. While you can’t exactly build a test house first, there are several ways to determine your interest in and aptitude for contracting work. Assess your ability is tackling a remodeling project on your current home. You also can get a feel for the process by reading books or taking a construction- oriented class at a community college or adulteducation program.
If, after you’ve done your homework, you’ve still got
the contracting bug but are feeling skeptical about your ability to manage the project on your own, don’t hesitate to call in a construction consultant. A consultant will spend maybe one afternoon a week with you, helping to prepare you for the next week’s work. It still saves money over a full-time general contractor because you’re doing most of the work yourself. 3 BEWARE OF POTENTIAL PITFALLS. Contractors who’ve been around the block a few times are well versed in common headaches on construction projects and can circumvent them. You can minimize the learning curve by schooling yourself on possible trouble spots ahead of time. Scheduling and payments are often points of contention, so make sure you have delivery dates for materials timed properly and that all of your subcontractors know when to be there. (A phone call a few days before should do the trick.)
Making friends at your local building department also is a smart move. People there hold the keys to your house, so it’s a good idea to meet them and find out what their requirements are early on.
Finally, resist the urge to make tweaks to your design after work is under way. It’s easy to start making changes here and there to improve the plan, without realizing that each time there’s a change order, it’s going to cost more and take longer. Careful planning before the project begins will avoid or at least reduce these costly impulses.
There are other published and online resources that can help you assess your abilities and aptitude for the work of a general contractor. Being your own GC is no guarantee that you’ll save time or money, but you might. Even if you don’t, by making the commitment, you stand to gain a tremendous amount of satisfaction from your efforts.
Acting as general contractor on your log-home project is one way to get involved with the home’s construction and possibly save some money to boot.