Do You Need a General Contractor?

The goal of post frame (pole building) construction is to be able to get the most building, for the dollars invested.

When a general contractor is hired to provide a constructed building, normally about 25% of the cost is going to the general contractor, who never lifts a tool or picks up a board at your building site.  This is not the same as a regular building contractor, who heads up a team of builders, but who also drives nails along with his crew.  A “general contractor” could be someone who drives nails, but usually doesn’t.  They often sit in an office and act as coordinator. Sometimes they visit the building site, and often do not. They may have a salesman who actually visits the jobsite.

If you are not a “hands on” person or one who is willing to invest a few hours of your own time to save thousands of dollars, then maybe hiring a general contractor is your answer.

When people start thinking of “General contractors” visions of dollar signs, disappointment and reality TV shows start floating through their minds.

In most cases, you don’t need or can’t afford a general contractor to be involved in your new pole building. If you have a very complex project, which involves numerous different trades it could be worthwhile to hire one.

Remember those hours the general contractor will save you on the jobsite? Plan on spending twice the amount of time to find a good general contractor. Do your due diligence and hire someone with excellent references and the professionalism to do what he was hired to do.

What exactly is due diligence?

Before even picking up the phone to call a contractor (both general contractors and those who drive nails) – check online to verify they are registered to do business in your state and to verify their contractor’s registration is current. Check their rating with the Better Business Bureau, as well as on Angie’s List. Google them, by looking for, “Phreds Construction complaints” (obviously Phred is a made up name, but you get the picture). If they have complaints, read through them, as sadly people are quick to complain about minor, or even imagined incidents.

Once you have narrowed your potential contractor choices down to no less than three, have them meet with you in person, at your building site to discuss your new pole building. Unless you are absolutely 100% certain as to the dimensions and features of the building you want, you are best to tell the contractor your needs (what problems is the building going to solve) and ask for recommendations as to the best design solution.

Each contractor is going to have different recommendations, so be prepared, after round one, to go back to each one of them, with your final design.

By now, you should have started to form relationships with these general contractors. Time to start asking for documentation from your “leading” candidate. You want a copy of their contractor’s registration, a certificate of liability insurance with you named as additional insured, all warranties in writing, three written references, and the names and phone numbers of their accountant, banker, and at least three major suppliers. It is up to YOU to call all of these people and verify they are financially stable, they do not bounce checks, they pay their bills on time, etc. If the “little voice” inside of your head starts to whisper bad things to you – move on to the next candidate.

The general contractor is supposed to be your lifeline to everything you need done. He supposedly knows the right people to hire, the best places to get supplies, and he is the one who will coordinate all the tiny jobs which need to be done so you aren’t on the phone constantly trying to coordinate what should be happening.

If I sound completely negative on this subject, remember, I was a General Contractor at one time.  I ran 35 crews in 6 states and I had really good crews….and I had those who had no business pounding nails.  What I am saying here is to be careful – and check out everything you can on a General Contractor, before you hire him.  I appreciated every client who did due diligence and  checked me out from top to bottom before they hired me.  I knew they would treat me with the same professionalism as I treated them.

If you begin without unrealistic expectations and do your homework, you can have a satisfactory experience when hiring a general contractor. Just remember, it isn’t free.

10 thoughts on “Do You Need a General Contractor?

  1. Do you have a newsletter? If so, do you send out blog posts like these to your list? I would be interested in signing up if you do.

  2. Thanks for all of the articles and information you post! Not just this one – I find them very helpful as I start the research process.

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you for your kind words Mark, they are appreciated. Please reach out to me any time with questions.

  3. I need to talk to a qualified mental builder or some one that can help me with my decision to choose from a log home or barnaminum

    1. Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. A Building Designer will be reaching out to you.

    2. Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. A Building Designer will be reaching out to you to discuss.

  4. My wife and I want to build a pole barn and use it as a home before the year ends. We’re glad you talked about narrowing down potential contractors and meeting with them before hiring one. We’ll definitely follow your advice this month to ensure we find a contractor that respects our building’s dimensions and features.


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