Why Hire a General Contractor Instead of a Subcontractor?

By July 21, 2022 No Comments

Why Hire a General Contractor Instead of Going Directly to a Subcontractor?

Sometimes in the interest of pursuing a lower cost, a client seeking help with a commercial buildout, renovation or tenant improvement may consider going directly to a sub-contractor instead of hiring a Commercial General Contractor to handle the project. After all, subcontractors are the ones who actually perform the work, right? Well, no, not exactly and making such a risky move can end up costing you thousands more if you’re not careful. Here’s why it is always best to hire a general contractor instead of going directly to a subcontractor,

In order to accurately assess the risks of hiring a subcontractor rather than using a Commercial General Contractor to handle your construction project, it is important to fully understand the difference between General Contractors and subcontractors. In short, a General Contractor is a person or business that contracts to be in charge of a building project, which usually involves the use of subcontractors. A subcontractor is typically hired by a General Contractor to perform a certain type of work that is part of an existing contract. They report to the General Contractor.

General Contractors are master planners and managers –“big picture” thinkers. They oversee your entire construction project from start to finish and make sure everything is done with a high level of quality, to your specifications and liking, from start to finish. They are also responsible for all administrative tasks related to your project including getting building permits, identifying subcontractors, negotiating pricing, budgeting, scheduling, making sure all subcontractors are paid, and securing insurance for all workers, among other things. They are the sole party responsible for the final product.

Subcontractors, by contrast, work on individual parts of the project, which could be anything from concrete work to electrical, HVAC, plumbing, tile, drywall or other areas of specialization. Most large commercial construction projects involve the use of multiple subcontractors. Trying to find the right ones who are good and can be trusted on any single phase of work required for your construction project can be daunting, let alone trying to find a dozen or more for various needs.
Many subcontractors are here one day and gone the next. Now consider the time, effort and expense you could go through, not only trying to find the right sub-contractors, but also negotiating pricing with each one, scheduling them, understanding what quality finished work looks like, etc.

General Contractors typically have relationships with a group of various kinds of subcontractors who they know they can trust from experience, rely upon to be available and to perform quality work at reasonable rates. General Contractors work with the subcontractors to ensure that your project stays on budget, on time and avoids major mishaps.

Liability is another area where it just makes more sense to hire a general contractor instead of going directly to a subcontractor. Many subcontractors do not always have their own general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance or even a subcontractor license! If a General Contractor hires an uninsured or unlicensed subcontractor, they may be liable for any injuries or lawsuits resulting from a subcontractor’s actions. If you hire them directly and make the same mistake, it may well be YOU that is on the line!

In addition, if a subcontractor is not paid due to an alleged issue that the property owner or individual who hired them has identified, then the subcontractor can file a lien on your property, preventing you from selling it until the claim is settled.

General Contractors typically have well-developed subcontractor agreements that protect themselves and their clients from subcontractor disputes. This can not only save thousands of dollars in time and legal fees trying to draft solid subcontractor agreements but potentially thousands more in liability should something go wrong.

Finally, when working with a licensed Commercial General Contractor like Emerald C’s, you not only have a contractor in place to direct and oversee all aspects of your commercial construction project but one that can also assist with all elements of design build, including project planning, site analysis, design, estimating and value engineering. Emerald C’s prides itself on listening to our clients’ vision, then thinking outside-the-box in holistic fashion to deliver creative, value-driven suggestions and decisions. We act as your single point-of-contact for total project delivery. Not even all General Contractors can provide this level of service and certainly, no subcontractors do.

Ultimately, you must decide whether your project merits the involvement of a General Contractor or whether it is small enough, and you are knowledgeable enough and feel confident enough to handle it yourself, working directly with a subcontractor(s). In every case, it is always worth your time to discuss your project with a General Contractor to learn how they may better assist you, before you begin.

Emerald C’s Development is a full-service Commercial General Contractor specializing in interior build-out construction projects, commercial renovations and tenant improvements. Call us today at 904.717.0333 for a free consultation.