Does My Barndominium Need a Turn-Key General Contractor?
Often a goal of barndominium (especially post frame) construction is to be able to get your most building, for your dollars invested (think biggest bang per buck).
When a turn-key general contractor is hired to provide a constructed building, normally about 25% of what you pay is going to said general contractor, who never lifts a tool or picks up a board at your building site. This is a different person than an erection contractor, who heads up a team of builders, but who also drives nails and screws along with his or her 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 your building site, and often they do not. They may have a salesman or other assistant who actually occasionally visits your 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 – and often for good reason.
In most cases, you don’t need or can’t afford a general contractor to be involved in your new post frame barndominium. If you have a very complex project, one involving a plethora of different trades, it could be worthwhile to hire one.
Remember those hours a general contractor will save you on your jobsite? Plan on spending twice this amount of time to find a good general contractor.
Please carefully reread previous paragraph. Hiring a general contractor will not save you time.
Do your due diligence and hire someone with excellent references and enough professionalism to do what he or she was hired to do.
What exactly is due diligence?
Before even picking up your cell 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 Better Business Bureau rating, as well as any listings on Angie’s List. Google them, by looking for, “Phred’s Construction complaints” (obviously Phred is a made up name). 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 barndominium. Unless you are absolutely 100% certain as to dimensions and features of your barndominium you want, you are best to tell him or her your needs (what problems is your building going to solve) and ask for recommendations as to 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 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 you hear a “little voice” inside of your head whispering bad things to you – move on to the next candidate.
A general contractor is supposed to be your lifeline to everything you need done. He or she supposedly knows the right people to hire, best places to get supplies, and he or she will coordinate all those tiny jobs which need to be done so you aren’t on your cell 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 six 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 or her. 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 a high degree of professionalism, just 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.
Not scared enough yet? Then please read this article (and its two subsequent friends): https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/a-contractor-for-your-new-barndominium/