The General Contractor Role
What does the general contractor do? He or she oversees the entire construction process from start to finish; schedules and coordinates the work of the subcontractors, checks their work and pays them; orders materials and schedules their delivery at the appropriate time; and procures the building permits. Often the general contractor is also a carpenter and will do the bulk of the construction work with his or her own team: framing, siding, roofing, putting up drywall, etc.
He or she has built relationships with subcontractors over the years and knows which ones are dependable and do a good job. Subcontractors will be more responsive to a someone who general contracts for a living than to a do-in-yourselfer because they know that if they do a good job, it may lead to future work.
How much can you expect to save by general contracting a project yourself? General contractors often charge a percentage of the project construction cost, commonly 10%. So if you do a stellar job of managing your project, you could save up to 10%. On the other hand, the project could very welll end up costing more than it otherwise would have, due to mistakes, oversights, time delays and work that must be redone.
Are You Suited?
Before you decide to take on this role, ask yourself the following questions:
Having a complete and detailed set of construction drawings from an architect can help. However, a good set of drawings is no substitute for competent general contracting.
Think through this decision carefully before deciding to be your own general contractor. The risks are many, and the potential for costly mistakes is great. Don't underestimate the value of an experienced professional for this job.