If you have a skill for building and working with your hands, becoming a general contractor and going into business for yourself could be an amazing career decision. You can make a lot of money and have more control simultaneously.
A general contractor must have a strong knowledge of every aspect of building. While you do not have to be an expert at everything, you need to understand basic concepts and how every aspect of a build fits together. However, it is more than just knowledge that makes a great contractor.
A contractor must also be able to network and market themself to find new clients and partnerships. You need to be able to manage a team and keep everyone on the same page at all times. What does this mean when it comes to your regular workday? Here is a quick view into a day in the life of a general contractor.
Most contractors are early risers. If you are not willing to adjust your sleep schedule to wake up by 5 or 6 am, it might not be the life for you. A contractor has to be up early to visit job sites, go over plans, discuss with site leaders and subcontractors, answer questions from clients, and do any number of tasks that need to be completed before work starts for the day. You will also need your energy, so make sure you save time for a good breakfast and your morning jolt of caffeine.
Meeting With Work Teams
Often, the first stop of the day is at a job site. This is when you will survey the previous day’s progress and discuss the next steps. A contractor will then go over any issues that the client may have and provide advice or direction that is needed. They will then get information about what the team is planning on accomplishing that day. While this is the initial meeting of the day, there will likely be more throughout the day.
This is also the time when a general contractor will consult with any subcontractors on the job site. They need to completely understand what the client wants and how it should have been accompanied. Answer questions and provide clear direction, otherwise, there could be an issue. If there is a mistake with one of the subcontractors, it can hold up the entire project, and cost you and your client money.
Inspection of Job Sites
At the same time, a general contractor should be inspecting the work that has been done up to that point. Everyone on that site is representing you, so you need to make sure that their workmanship is up to your high standards. However, it’s not only about workmanship. Safety should be the number one priority on a job site, and it is your responsibility to make sure that all applicable standards are being followed.
The fact is, construction comes with a high level of risk. That risk can be to you, your employees, your clients, the general public, and your property. You want to make sure that there is nobody injured on your site. Because of the amount of risk involved, make sure that you have general contractor liability coverage and workers’ compensation coverage. Workers’ compensation is required by law in every state but one, and liability coverage will protect you against lawsuits related to injuries or property damage. Safety and risk management is a big part of a general contractor job, which means that you need to have the right insurance in place at all times.
Client meetings are where a contractor makes their money. For one, there are new clients to meet with and discuss upcoming projects. You need to sell them to your company and your work. That means being friendly and confident and listening to their wants and needs. Your bid does not have to be the lowest for a project, but it must meet their criteria.
You also will need to consult with clients during projects. They will have questions for you, and you will have questions for them. You may also have to change aspects of the project due to unforeseen circumstances. Changes should be communicated openly and honestly, and the client should be able to make decisions regarding those changes for themselves.
Safety is important, and keeping on budget is very important as well. You need to make sure that every project is forecasted to be completed on time and within budget. If it’s not, that money may have to come out of your pocket. Many jurisdictions have laws regarding how much a contractor can go over a provided quote, so be careful. That means monitoring all of your expenditures, and tracking where every piece of material and equipment is at all times. If you are looking like you are going to go over budget, then talk to your team and see what changes you can make.
There is a lot of paperwork to do when you are running a general contracting business. You have to sign approvals for purchases, for example. Unless you have hired someone specifically to handle it, you may need to do payroll and HR paperwork. A general contractor will be the one who signs every contract and quote and signs off on plans. You would be the big boss, and everything falls on your shoulders and is your ultimate responsibility. You must pay attention to details and ensure that your paperwork is properly filled out.
Usually, there is no work being done on a job site after hours. As the light fades, it becomes more dangerous, and there is a greater chance for mistakes. However, often the work of a general contractor isn’t complete for the day even after everyone else has gone home. There may be lingering paperwork to finish, urgent emails and other communications that have to be dealt with, and meetings with clients for a few minutes to discuss how the day went. You may also want to put together your task list for the next day so that it is one fewer thing you have to worry about during your early morning.
As you can see, there is a lot to do during the typical day of a general contractor. In between all of these tasks, you may need to run out for supplies, or handle last-minute requests to make sure that there are no delays on your projects. If you can’t handle an honest full day’s work, being a general contractor might not be for you. However, if you love to see things built, and you have a knack for managing a team, then it might be the perfect option.