“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I recently asked my eight year old son. He replied an athlete, specifically a world cup soccer player. We all know that chances of him living this dream are few and far between but hey if that is his aspiration right now I am excited for him. I on the other hand was hoping he said a contractor/builder. My home is in need of some improving so as I see it this would be a win-win situation. He could own a large construction company that would service the needs of moms and dads all over Michigan that just did not have time to do the work themselves.
As a general contractor you are in charge of the organization of all the parties involved in a home renovation project. You not only oversee the individuals working for you but also the product vendors and trade contractors. It is important that you keep open communication with the owner of the home because they are the ones who satisfaction is ultimately needed for the project to be wrapped up and paid for.
It is always important for a contractor to visit the location that needs work done before any project is agreed upon or begun. This allows a decision to be made about the costs associated with the job for the contractor to work out an estimate/quote to be reviewed by the home owner. Not only must the labor being included in the quote but also material estimates and equipment costs. When an estimate has been accepted it is general practice that the contractor and homeowner will meet to go over all documents for the project. A budget will be formulated, the particular conditions for the job will be laid out and any designs will be approved by an architect.
Many times in construction projects it is up to the contractor to pull building permits and to know specific requirements for the county that the work is being done in. It is important as a contractor to maintain a list of specialized subcontractors on file that you have worked with in the past and have been satisfied with their work. Many times you will need to call upon these people as the project moves on. Examples of this may be plumbers, electricians or even landscapers.
It is required that any contractor working in a state be a licensed contractor. Many contractors are also business owners. They may have several projects going on at one time. It is important that they have brought together people on site that are trustworthy and work well together.
The advantages of working for yourself as a contractor are very similar to being your own boss in any industry. You are not obligated to work with any client that you choose not to. You can also choose a variety of different jobs so that you don’t get burned out say with only building home additions. Also, you can evaluate the length of projects and work them around any special scheduling needs. For instance, weather conditions might play a factor depending on where you are licensed. Michigan has a few months where it is possible to work but the conditions will not make it pleasant to be outside.
The disadvantages are vast of being a contractor and owner of a company. For Instance, you are in charge of all of the employees that work for you. That includes their salary, health benefits and insurance. You don’t get paid time off. Actually time off is not really associated with being the owner. You are always on call and responsible for the business functioning. Yes, you hire people who you can trust to help make those decisions when you are not available but it still always falls back to you in the end. The biggest disadvantage is that you still have to pay employees and subcontractors even if the renovator is slow at paying their bill. Of course this can be a mute point if you make sure to have paid points throughout a project. However, in the end as the owner and contractor you are responsible for the completed project and all those involved in it.
None of us really figured out what we wanted to do in life until we were much older and had tried our hands at a few professions. I know that soon my son will stop wanting to be a professional soccer player and move on to something else. I know he will find something he truly loves doing and that he is good at. For my sake I sure hope he ventures into contracting even if for a moment. (Hopefully long enough to add a reading room, a new kitchen and a bathroom spa retreat!)