A general contractor is someone who builds houses. Most people will be overwhelmed building their houses, which is why general contractors get so much business.
These people are the saviors of construction. They are well worth the price they charge for what they do. But while you’ve probably heard of the term “general contractor” you may not know exactly what they are.
What Is A General Contractor?
A general contractor is someone that you hire to take over when building your house. They will do most of the work while consulting you on big decisions. They also work with you every step of the way.
General contractors usually have to go through certain steps to become a contractor. While you can hire anyone to be your contractor, this is very unusual and is usually just a friend that is helping out and overseeing tasks.
What Does A General Contractor Do?
General contractors have a lot of jobs to do. While you may assume they just build, this is far from the truth. A general contractor actually hardly needs you, the homeowner, at all to do their work. You are simply there for approval.
If you give them the go-ahead beforehand, then they don’t even need this. Here are the main things that a general contractor does. This is a short list and does not limit everything that a general contractor can do.
Planning The Home
A general contractor often works as an architect to plan out your home. This includes drawing a footprint for the home and planning out each wall. They usually work through this part with you step-by-step.
It can take quite a while to finish this first step because it is so important. There may be a lot of back and forth talking and texts, even if you have already sat down for half a day to plan out the home. It needs to be right.
A general contractor can get you some amazing deals on all things construction. You will pay them for the materials or let them use your card to pay for the materials. This all depends on the contractor.
Because they work with suppliers, they can order directly from the manufacturer. They also have priority in case of a shortage. So even if there is a spike in prices and a drop in supply, they can get you what you need.
This is the part that most people recognize as a general contractor job. They will oversee everything that goes into building your house. They choose the materials and they choose the team. This is their main job.
They work with the team from start to finish, and can even help out with interior work. They take a plot of empty land and build an entire house from scratch if that’s what you want. This is the magic.
Getting Permits And Doing Paperwork
This is usually one of the most hated jobs that a contractor does. Because let’s face it, no one likes paperwork. When one becomes a contractor, paperwork is the last thing on their mind. But it’s all part of the job.
General contractors need to ensure they get the permits that they need to build and ensure everything is up to code. If anything comes up, it is up to them to talk to you and the committees involved to work things out.
When it comes to plumbing, electricity, and other utilities, a general contractor can actually contact them to get them installed for you. While this depends on the contractor, most of them have connections to speed up the process.
If you choose to do it yourself, then you can. But if the contractor offers to do it and doesn’t charge much extra, then it’s a good idea to let them. They can ask you your requirements and take care of all of the technical stuff.
Residential General Contractor Near Me
Now that you know what a general contractor is and what they do, you probably want to know where to find one near you. “General contractors near me” is one of the most popular searches regarding contractors.
The problem with finding residential contractors near you is knowing how to tell which ones are trustworthy and which ones aren’t. Here’s a quick list of things to look for when searching “residential general contractors near me.”
A Good Website
While this isn’t necessary, most companies have a website. The quality of the website isn’t important but if they do have a good website, it means a lot. Because it means they care about their business.
So check this by googling them. Great social media pages are also just as valuable as a good website, so check this out too. If they are interactive and have places to instant message them for quotes, it’s even better.
Asking friends is actually one of the best things you can do. If your friend doesn’t know any contractors then they may have a friend of a friend that does. This cycle can usually find you a general contractor.
After you locate one, then you can follow the rest of the steps to ensure that they are everything that your friend said they were. If you are lucky, the reference checks out and you can move on with building your house.
Ask The Realtor
If you bought your property recently, then call your realtor or ask them whenever you talk to them for contacts. They usually know general contractors that are trustworthy and willing to help you out.
Get a personal phone number if you can from the realtor and ask them all of your questions. This can be even better than asking a friend because the realtor will know the ins and outs of the business as well.
Check The BBB
The Better Business Bureau is one of the best resources for finding general contractors near your location. You can search by general contractors and find someone close to you that is right for the job.
If a business is listed on the Better Business Bureau, it doesn’t mean they are trusted. Some companies make fake accounts to get fake reviews. So after you find the company on here, you can follow other steps to back it up.
This is very important. A good general contractor should be able to give you references that will allow you to read reviews, call past clients, and more. They should be confident that the people will speak highly of them.
If they can’t provide references, it needs to be for a good reason. If they are new and you still want to give them a chance, then go ahead and give them one. Just don’t pay more than you would for a standard contractor.
How To Become A General Contractor
If what you want to do is become a general contractor instead of hiring one, then you’re in luck. Anyone can become a general contractor. All you need is to know the steps to become one, though a little passion can help!
Step 1: Get Experience
Someone that has an education but no experience probably isn’t going to do as well as someone who has a lot of experience but no education. The pair is what will really dominate any field. So get experience.
It can be a good idea if you’re young to work your way through high school and college by getting a job as an apprentice. But even non-recorded experience working with friends and family can be valuable.
Step 2: Get Educated
Getting a degree in construction management, architecture, or civil engineering can really help you get started in the right direction and open up so many more opportunities. But if you want to skip college, then you can go to a trade school.
Check for classes in your area related to construction if you want to go the quicker route. You can still become a contractor without a degree, it is simply much more difficult to get paying clients this way.
Step 3: Pass The General Contractor Exam
Even if you don’t go to college, you still need to be a licensed general contractor in order to get paying clients. You need to pass the state contractor exam to get your license which usually includes business and law sections.
This is just one type of section. There are many more things you need to know about before taking your exam. You can contact the government office in your state that holds exams to find out what you need to study.
Step 4: Plan Your General Contractor Business
You may want to work for a company before starting your own business to get your name out there. Wait until you are assigned to your own projects before branching out and starting that business.
Then, you can be set up with contacts that will vouch for you and make your job much easier. Plan your social media pages, your website, your reference list, and more before you even start them.
It can be a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you cover your bases legally. Because the last thing you want is to miss a paper or hoop to jump through, costing you thousands if not millions of dollars.
The Final Step To Become A General Contractor
Never stop learning! A lot of contractors think that after they pass the exam, they know everything they need to know, granting them an arrogant attitude. But this should never happen and you shouldn’t let it.
Instead, open your mind to learning something new every week. The more you learn, the more you let in, the better you will be at your job and the better clients you will get. So keep your chin up and let your passion show.