Whether you are business owners constructing a new building, homeowners remodeling, or doing some additions, a general contractor comes in handy. Some people may ask, “Why would you hire a general contractor when subcontractors can handle the job?” In this article, we answer the question of why you should hire an Arizona general contractor.
The Greatest Benefit: Simplicity
When you have an important project, you want accountability, a fast completion timeline, proper management of project costs, and a single contact point.
With even a minor remodeling job, you may have to deal with painters, masons, carpenters, flooring installers, and suppliers.
A general contractor makes it easy for you to have your project designed, built, and completed – all without you having to deal with different subcontractors. Also, your general contractor manages and schedules the various trades in the correct order as well as allocates finances at every stage of the project. It may sound simple, but the old adage of not putting the cart before the horse is very important in a construction project. Nothing will blow your budget like doing work twice because something was forgotten or made more difficult by doing things out of order.
Bespoke Builders is a residential and commercial general contractor offering ground-up construction, tenant improvements, design-build, custom home construction, historical restoration or period house restorations and remodeling services.
Being in the construction industry since 1989, Shannon Mark Pulcifer has been a licensed contractor since 1996 when he became a licensed Residential Builder in Michigan and has been serving the residents of Arizona as a licensed commercial and residential contractor since 2002. Shannon founded Bespoke Builders in 2016 and quickly turned it into an iconic representation of the general contractor’s businesses in Arizona. Bespoke Builders is backed by long-standing experience, not only Shannon’s lengthy and wide variety of project history, but also with his team of experienced staff and core group of quality subcontractors.
Since its founding, Bespoke Builders has made considerable strides in meeting the expectations of customers. Recently, we were voted a top 10 retail general contractor.
What Is a General Contractor?
A general contractor is a professional builder with knowledge of the entire construction process who converts building plans from 2-dimensional drawings into homes, offices, commercial buildings, industrial complexes, warehouses, restaurants, renovated retail spaces and buildings for many other types of occupancy. Also referred to as the GC, the general contractor orchestrates the process of building including organizing manpower, inspecting the work as it’s being done, ordering materials, coordinating the ever-changing schedules, and handling a whole lot of paperwork related to the construction project, which includes submittals (review of products and materials to verify compliance with the plans and design), subcontracts, payroll, invoicing from subcontractors as well as to the owner, etc.
The GC may self-perform using their own employees to do the work, but it is more common for the GC to hire subcontractors, especially for larger projects, to handle the manpower demand. Specialty trades such as excavation, grading, paving, utilities, concrete, roofing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, fire sprinklers and fire alarm are normally subcontracted even if the GC self-performs some of the work. Other trades such as flooring, paint, millwork, doors, storefront, acoustic ceilings, countertops, etc. are still mostly subcontracted to others who focus on one trades so that you get better quality and faster work, like having an assembly line with each person focusing on the one trade they’ve perfected. You can think of a general contractor as the person who is in charge of your project. It is the GC’s responsibility to ensure that the subcontractors do their job on time and in line with the set plans. In most cases, a GC is a company rather than a person or an individual. However, some individuals can be referred to as general contractors, for example, an owner of a general contracting company or one of the employees such as the superintendent or project manager may be referred to as the “GC” for a project.
Additional Benefits of Hiring a Contractor
If you have a project like a home addition, renovation, kitchen remodel, landscaping or flooring installation, a general contractor can come in handy. Of course, you may ask yourself, “Why would I hire a GC if they are going to sub out the tasks to other contractors?” That question also applies to other professions. For example, why would you hire a wedding planner if they are going to get other people to cater the event, arrange the flowers, and play the music? Using this analogy, you can see the benefits of hiring a general contractor to oversee and coordinate your project.
As previously stated, the general contractor manages the entire process, allowing the property owner to have a single point of contact instead of dealing with many subcontractors and suppliers. The other key benefit is that the GC has extensive knowledge of and experience with the building and construction industry. With your approval, they hire reputable subcontractors they’ve worked with before, people they trust to complete the project and do quality work.
Other benefits of hiring a general contractor include:
Working with a General Contractor Saves Time
Finding suitable subcontractors is a time-consuming process. Researching options and screening to ensure they’re registered and have the experience needed doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll hire the best team for the job.
A general contractor who has been in the industry in the local area knows the right subcontractors to work with, how to get estimates for all the scopes of work for the project, can evaluate the estimates for accuracy and value; and once the project starts, can schedule subcontractors accurately. If you’re like most people, you already have a full-time job. The time commitment to manage a construction project is substantial. You hire a GC to free yourself from that commitment.
A General Contractor Manages Your Project Professionally
For smaller jobs like installing tile in your foyer or building a deck, you’re likely okay to hire a single subcontractor directly. However, if you have a large project or one that requires hiring multiple skilled professionals like carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, roofers, etc. and/or need to manage material orders from suppliers, you should consider hiring a general contractor in Arizona.
The GC will be the manager, time keeper, communicator, safety inspector and quality controller of your project. Also, GCs know the best building materials in terms of durability and quality, and they’ll recognize if a subcontractor is cutting corners that could endanger your project or leave you with maintenance issues. The GC can take the appropriate action to ensure the desired quality is maintained, whereas someone not as familiar with construction materials and proper installation procedures may not know what to look for.
You Don’t Have to Worry About Legal Issues with a General Contractor – They Know the Code
GCs, understand the nuances of the construction industry. They know about the regulations, codes, and other standards associated with any project.
- When do you need a permit for a residential renovation or addition?
- What’s the process for a commercial property?
- Where do you go to obtain the permit?
- What taxes do you need to pay on your project?
- What inspections are required?
- Do you need an engineer or architect?
- Will your project bump up against the building code?
Working with a general contractor helps you avoid the legal issues related to building codes and permitting.
A Larger Network of Subcontractors Improves Labor Quality
General contractors maintain an extensive network of subcontractors across specialties. They’ve worked with these people before, so they know who to hire for the best quality work.
GCs also have the experience needed to know when only a dependable specialist will do. For example, when to hire a concrete expert for your acid stained floors instead of a sub who handles all flooring types. They’re also better trained to assess the quality of the final product.
Better Results with a General Contractor
Projects managed by general contractors typically result in higher quality. General contractors use their industry knowledge and managerial skills to coordinate the different subcontractors they have relationships with so that they deliver to the expectations of the general contractor, and more importantly, the home or commercial property owner.
Bespoke Builders, the preferred Arizona general contractor, demonstrated their ability to manage complex projects with their handling of the design-build, ground-up of Pet Club, a retail building within the Historic District. The freestanding single-tenant building consists of a brick exterior with glass windows throughout the rest of the building. The project required industry knowledge, expertise, and the right skillsets in the construction industry and Bespoke Builders delivered.
General Contractors Assume Liability
First and foremost: Never use a contractor that isn’t licensed, insured, bonded, and in good standing with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC). Your general contractor knows this and would never hire a sub without the proper ROC credentials.
If your contractor isn’t licensed, the liability for any mistakes that occur falls on you. Low-quality materials or shoddy craft can put your whole project – and building – at risk. And what happens if a worker is injured while on the job? Your general contractor’s workers’ comp insurance takes care of that.
GCs also have liability insurance that protects you against claims from third parties, such as damage to a neighbor’s property.
When you work with a general contractor, the work typically carries a guarantee for a predetermined amount of time. If problems arise after completion of the project, they address the issue. For example, if the paint starts peeling before the warranty expires, your general contractor makes sure it’s fixed at no cost to you.
Services Provided by a General Contractor
General contractors provide a variety of services, from design creation to general contracting to repairs and maintenance. Bespoke Builders offers the following services:
- Design Creation: Includes all aspects of the pre-construction design phase to ensure you receive quality, realistic designs for your business, home, addition, tenant improvement or renovation. Some smaller projects may be designed in-house, or for larger projects, Bespoke Builders has relationships with architects and engineers for various sized commercial or residential projects. This may also include permitting, requesting and reviewing bid proposals, and construction delivery of the project.
- Construction Management: Typically, a construction project has (3) parties – The owner; the architect/engineer who designs the project; and the general contractor, who oversees day-to-day operations of the construction and manages subcontractors. A Construction Manager (CM) represents the owner’s interest and provides oversight over the entire project directly for the owner. The CM will address schedule, safety, costs, scope of work, function of the building and the construction process as well as quality to ensure a quality, timely, cost effective project for the owner. The CM is usually a general contractor, but is a separate entity from the GC who is actually doing the construction, and the sole purpose of the CM is to look out for the owner’s interest.
- General Contracting: Provides the structure for delivery of the project based on the approved plans. This will include cost for the work, management of the construction process and scheduling the work to be done. The contract with your GC should include financial requirements, a timeline and how situations that could potentially arise will be handled.
- Maintenance and Repairs: Bespoke Builders can assist with repairs and maintenance, even on buildings constructed by another company. Includes electrical, plumbing, painting, siding, insulation, and any other component of the building that is worn out, defective, damaged or simply needs to be updated.
Bespoke also provides subcontracting services on smaller projects including framing, drywall, roofing, concrete, flooring, painting and others.
Responsibility of a General Contractor
A general contractor overseeing the construction or renovation of a building is expected to supervise, inspect, direct, and deliver the project. The GC must use their expertise and skillsets to ensure a successful project design, execution, and delivery under the contract documents. In a building and construction project, the parties involved, including the building engineer, the property manager, project owner and the building contractor, have specific roles and responsibilities.
GC responsibilities include:
- Legal and regulatory: Your project must comply with the legal and regulatory requirements of Arizona, the City, County, State or local jurisdiction. General contractors ensure the project meets all code requirements and has the necessary permits before work begins. During construction, the GC ensures all required inspections and material testing take place, lien waivers are obtained from subcontractors and suppliers and follow Federal and State laws and regulations regarding taxes.
- Health and Safety: A safety policy protects you, your contractor(s), and the public. GCs follow OSHA regulations both in the workplace and at the construction site. They should also provide a safety representative who ensures conformance with safety standards and procedures, regulatory and legal requirements regarding safety, and effective hazard communication. Health and safety also include having an emergency response system in place and adequate risk management strategies to minimize losses in the event of an accident.
- Project management and monitoring: Includes managing time schedules, costs, safety, billing, ordering supplies, and invoicing. Your GC should also perform regular reviews to ensure the project remains on schedule and within budget.
- Distributing funds: The GC is responsible for distributing funds to ensure subcontractors have the resources required to complete the job, order materials, have adequate manpower, etc. for the project to flow.
Bespoke Builders can work with you for the entire process, from development to implementation to final walkthrough. The general contractor estimates personnel and subs required, materials needed, readjusts if there are change requests, determines legal and regulatory requirements, and any other aspects in the project ecosystem.
What to Look for in a General Contractor
Finding the right general contractor is the first step in completing a successful construction project, renovation, or remodel. Look for:
- Experience: Projects come in different shapes and sizes. Depending on the kind of construction work you need or the type of renovation you are doing, you need to gauge whether the general contractor has the experience to meet the scope and demands of the project. Ensure you align the GC’s skills with the project’s requirements. It’s your responsibility to ask the GC about their unique capabilities – what they can and can’t do. Ask whether they have performed similar work before and ask them to give you references or referrals so you can contact them to see how the contractor performed.
- Cost: Although the price shouldn’t be the sole determinant of whether to hire a contractor, it is a significant consideration. When seeking a general contractor, you want one that offers reasonable pricing while also ensuring quality. The contractor should provide you an estimate that includes the entire scope of work, i.e. materials, labor, supervision, incidentals, etc. and should spell out if any costs are “Excluded” which may be because those costs are unknown at the time, such as permits, development fees or utility fees or possibly not part of the scope, such as architect or engineer fees, if the contractor is not part of the design process for the project. Many expenses must be considered when doing a tenant improvement, custom home, or construction of a commercial building. Make sure you understand the details. A GC should consider all the likely expenses and present that as the cost to the client as well as make the client aware of potential costs the owner may encounter which are excluded, as just mentioned. If obtaining multiple contractor proposals, be sure to compare the Scope of Work to know you are comparing apples to apples, and beware of a cost that is considerably lower than the other contractors. “You get what you pay for” is very true in the construction industry. The initial low price may cost you more in the end for various reasons; lack of quality, cut corners, added costs along the way, replacing a contractor who couldn’t complete the work, etc.
- Resources: The GC you hire should have the necessary resources to complete the job. The contractor should have a strong network of subs and adequate staffing to execute the project. Find out if the contractor has unique capabilities like in-house staffing and some other self-performing tasks that give the contractor a competitive advantage to handle the project and have greater control over the processes, schedules, and costs.
- Communication: Open communication ensures seamless project development and management. An interface can make or break a project – you need to ensure that the GC provides smooth, effective, and timely communication with subs and clients. The contractor should be able to conceptualize the ideas of clients, put them on paper, and adequately describe what should be done by the subcontractors to provide the best results.
- Financial responsibility: You don’t want to engage a contractor who does not have adequate finances. A robust financial record and a healthy balance sheet are pre-requisites when hiring a contractor. They need to be financially responsible and have the ability to run their own business. If they run their business well, this is a good indication of whether they can manage your project costs properly. Outstanding debt to subcontractors or suppliers should be a red flag to look for another GC.
- Reputation: The general contractor should have a good reputation in the industry. A place of business, home renovation or remodeling is a considerable investment. You don’t want to work with a contractor who is known to mess up things or disappear into thin air. Look for online reviews from past clients as well as authority sites that can provide information about the contractor. We already mentioned the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. Also, check with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau to see what clients are saying.
- Flexibility: Is the contractor flexible, and is flexibility necessary for your project? If you need flexibility, it is a question you want to have answered because there may be unexpected alterations or changes that arise. If you think your project needs flexibility, let the contractor know upfront, give them as many details about what may change, and most good general contractors can plan accordingly. Ask if sticking to the plan is necessary in all cases, and what parts of a project can’t change and what parts can change. Ask if changes will cost more; in most cases, it will depend on the switch and the timeline. Finally, ask if the contractor is willing to work extra hours, including evenings and weekends, to ensure the project remains on schedule? If a GC isn’t flexible, it doesn’t mean that they are not a good fit, they may just run a strict deadline and have processes set in place that ensure projects get finished on-time, and on budget. But it’s always good to ask these questions and find out answers. Hiring the right general contractor for your project is extremely important, and without knowing as much as you can about them, it makes it hard to ensure they are the best GC for you.
- Integrity: A GC with integrity won’t overcharge you for the project and always follows through on what they promise. Integrity means being responsible for every aspect of the project and solving problems whenever they occur. There’s no shifting blame onto subs. It also means managing the small items with the same attention to detail as given to the big things. Commercial Construction projects, retail projects, and tenant improvements can be costly, and a GC with integrity will charge you appropriately and be fully accountable for the success or failure of your project. No one is perfect, and mistakes may happen, a GC with integrity will let make things right. A general contractor has a responsibility to the owner to ensure they get the quality construction they deserve at a fair cost, including when changes arrive, and will make sure the subcontractors do not overcharge when changes come up. The GC also has a responsibility to the subcontractors to make sure they get paid what is fair for the work they do. In this sense, the GC with integrity to ensure all parties are treated fairly.
- Licensing: You must use a licensed contractor in Arizona – this isn’t debatable. Engaging an unlicensed ‘contractor’ just asks for trouble. Having licensure shows that the general contractor meets Arizona’s state-mandated requirements and qualifications for being a contractor. If you plan to sell the building in the future, a licensed contractor can help push the sale of the building, and their reputation may improve the property’s value. Property buyers would want to purchase homes or buildings that were constructed or worked on by licensed contractors. Look for the license of the GC on their website and check their history by using this handy tool (https://roc.az.gov/contractor-search).
- Insurance: General contractors should have both general liability and worker’s comp insurance. The contractor’s insurance policy not only protects you as the property owner but also the project and any third-party claims for damages.
A general contractor adds value, is necessary for big projects, and is usually the reason why your project is successful; in many cases, they save you money, and in every case, they reduce issues. They should have the skillsets, industry knowledge, an understanding of Arizona building codes, and excellent management skills.
Managing and monitoring a project can be complicated, considering that you are dealing with different teams or subcontractors. You are working from a set design plan and have to deliver according to its specifications and timelines. The resources must be employed intuitively and intelligently to ensure that your project is completed.
The contractor should be able to add value-engineering and design ideas because they have the knowledge, experience, and ability to do the actual construction work. What may be in the design or engineering document and plans may not necessarily be feasible, a general contractor will let you know if your design can become a reality. They can make specific recommendations about the construction work that may be different but more effective. Plus, the GC should provide reasonable and realistic timelines, costs, personnel needs and suggest anything that may help speed up the schedule and increase value. These are the reasons why Bespoke Builders shines, call us today for a project consultation.