Choosing a contractor for your construction project can be a daunting task. With such range of contractors out there, many offering different services, it can be difficult to know where to start. The spectrum of contractors can range from one talented carpenter with only one or two staff, or perhaps none, to a full fledged design/build contractor offering full project design, estimating and project management. There are pros and cons to both.
The small contractor working alone will most certainly be cheaper. He or she likely works out of their home office at night and keeps their tools stored in their garage. The cost to run their business is small, and so they can charge less for their services and still earn a living. But because he or she is likely working on a jobsite all day, they may also be too busy to help you efficiently plan your project, put together permit packages, and provide accurate cost estimating. When things do get rolling, they may struggle to manage the project effectively and keep it on schedule and on budget. And because these types of contractors tend to be a “jack of all trades”, they may outright lack the skills to complete any or all of these tasks in an effective way.
Conversely, the full-scale design/build contractor who employs a team of professional designers, estimators and project managers will most certainly be more expensive. This is largely because of the overhead costs associated with their business. An office, a shop, company vehicles, tools, insurance, and salaries all make it nearly impossible for this type of contractor to compete with the pricing of a smaller outfit – on smaller, simpler projects. But as the complexity of a project increases, so too does the need for this type of team. Their specialized skills bring accuracy and efficiency to a project. Their ability to focus purely on the job at hand means they can bring projects to completion more quickly while avoiding costly pitfalls. Designing projects in-house allows for a streamline process from conception to completion. Add all of this up, and the result is not just a final product you will love, but also savings in time and money.
All considered, the complexity of your project should ultimately help guide you with this decision. The small guy or gal is a great option for small projects requiring minimal planning and management. But as the complexity increases, you will save time, money, and headaches hiring a contractor with a professional team. Once the type of contractor you are looking for is established, the next step is to find one with a proven track record – which is a topic for another day.