Should I be my own general contractor?

Reasons to Take Control

If you've got the skills, you might save yourself some dough doing your own tiling or other renovation tasks.
If you've got the skills, you might save yourself some dough doing your own tiling or other renovation tasks.
Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock

Now that we know a few things that fall under a general contractor's jurisdiction, let's consider why being your own GC might be appealing.

The biggest reason to do it? Money, of course. GCs are expensive; they're trying to run a business, after all, and that means making a profit. Adding a certain percentage onto labor and materials costs will help them do that. (The numbers vary, of course, but anywhere from 10 to 30 percent is commonly cited.) So acting as your own GC keeps that percentage where you probably want it: firmly in your pocket.

Another cost savings, depending on your experience, is that you might find a place to eliminate a subcontractor or two. Instead of a GC hiring a plumber to install a toilet and a tiler to decorate around your new vanity, you can just go ahead and tackle those jobs -- and any others that you think you can handle -- yourself.

You don't necessarily have to know the ins and outs of every trade to be a GC; having time-management, organizational and cost-savings skills can also be useful. Of course, that doesn't mean having some detailed background or knowledge of the trades that will be employed on your project isn't a good idea.

Beyond saving dough, some people say another benefit of being their own GC is having more control over a project. There are many horror stories of contractors who make careless mistakes or simply make decisions without asking the client. Being in charge of the entire process means all the details are up to you, which can be extremely tempting if you've ever had the displeasure of listening to three different subcontractors tell you the water damage on your project is the other's fault.

As your own contractor, you'll also be able to manage all the bids from subcontractors and for materials. Instead of trusting somebody else to pick the best person for the job -- and not just their cousin's best friend, who could really use some work -- you'll get to decide who will be the best value to work on your project.

Being a GC sounds like a great deal, right? Check out the next page for a few reasons why maybe you should leave it to the professionals.