10 Reasons Why You Need a General Contractor and What Separates Them.
Having a General Contractor on your project is often a critical choice to having a successful project. Just an an Architect draws the design, the Interior Designer picks finishes and furnishings the General Contractor makes sure all those details are done in the correct sequence to not only conform to the design but also building code and oversight of all the trades to bring it together. Here are 10 reasons why you need a General Contractor and what separates the pro's from the wannabes.
1. Knowledge and Experience
Every project is unique. Every project is custom.
Projects by their very nature are a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product and only happen once at that location and time. These projects are often a once and a lifetime opportunity for clients and as such should be treated that way. A General Contractor should have plenty of experience in his resume that has exposed him to a multitude of different types of construction. Issues always come up during the course of construction and having a knowledgeable contractor that can head off or foresee the issue before it causes a cascade impact on the whole project is invaluable. The plans on the project will likely have flaws, or the sequencing of work won’t always match the plan due to the resources or environmental conditions at that time. Designs are always going to need changes, and people are always going to be somewhat unpredictable. A General Contractor deals with all of these “headaches” without you often breaking a sweat.
Our General Manager, Grant Barron, has been around construction since his childhood in Tulsa. A Tulsa native whose father is a General Contractor makes him a second generation builder. He often jokes that he had a hammer in his hand before a bottle. It’s in his blood. Construction on his childhood home all the way through college allowed him to see the progression of a multitude of projects on a daily basis and he learned early on what it’s like to have a contractor in your house consistently. All the dust, the mess, the overwhelming amount of subcontractors and noise – He truly understands what it’s like for a live in renovation! In addition to construction in Tulsa he helped his parents remodel and bring back an old Victorian home in Eureka Springs Arkansas. Everything was historically accurate and it’s where he gets his love of older homes. During the course of his career not only has he overseen multi-million dollar residential projects he also has successfully completed multiple commercial projects along with working on some of Tulsa’s most iconic landmarks including; Tulsa Zoo, Cain’s Ballroom, Philbrook Museum of Art, OneOK Field, Brady Theater, and A Gathering Place Park. Grant’s broad base of project experience has allowed him to work alongside some of the area’s largest General Contractors and alongside multiple Designers, Architects and both residential and commercial clients. It’s the hands on hard learned experience that he brings with him on every project that you want from a General Contractor. There’s nothing that makes him prouder than seeing his projects spot the town that he grew up in. You can only build that type of track history by being honest, having integrity and focusing on quality. With his degree from OSU in biochemistry and molecular biology you’ll be getting to work with someone who is college educated, detail orientated, and understands the value in being honest and transparent. He is currently working towards a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, recognized the world over as the gold standard in project management, from the Project Management Institute. The type of experience and history at Grant’s age is a rare find in the construction industry. Let us bring this experience to your next project.
2. Single Point of Contact
Your go to person.
A General Contractor serves as a single point of contact for all of the moving parts of a construction project. There are thousands of decisions that have to be made on a construction project and the project team is there every step of the way you. They will interface with the owners, internal staff, the design team, and subcontractors on a continual basis. They oversee the schedule and coordinate materials with lead times to show up at the right time on the job. Having a single point of contact is imperative to a successful construction project since they have evolved with the project and are knowledgeable about every detail or change that was made along the way.
Renovation and Construction Services provides its clients with a single point of contact throughout the course of their project – rain or shine we are there. We are committed to our clients and as a result provide a single point of contact for day to day activities, the job superintendent, and an overall manager of the project, a project manager. Depending on the size of your project you may have both or just a project manager. By utilizing our online project management software, Corecon, we can allow access to certain project documents 24 hours a day – Regardless if you’re out of the country or in Tulsa.
Always available, Always there
3. Scope of Work
The devil is in the details
All projects should be based on a solid foundation of specifications. These specifications may include an architectural plan set that includes a floor plan, elevations, structural, civil, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing designs all the way to a formal specification book broken out into CSI codes, as dictated by the Construction Specification Institute with thousands of pages. Regardless, an itemized proposal that shows you these details and gives information to back them up is critical to having a successful project. Beware of a contractor that gives you a few pieces of paper as your proposal or no details of what’s included. It’s a recipe for change orders which is how some contractors make up their low bid price and cause your project to be over budget. A experienced client knows that a detailed proposal takes time and are willing to include that time in their process to get the project off the ground.
When clients ask for a ball park estimate Grant always replies “Do you want a bunt or a homerun?”. Renovation and Construction Services breaks all of their estimates out into the CSI codes which clearly outlines all of the work to be done with inclusions and exclusions listed. Details take time to develop on a project but we understand that it makes for a complete proposal that creates no surprises during the course of construction. Our bids are always broken down more than our competitors - It's part of being transparent and honest. Best of all progress billings on the project are broken out into these CSI codes on an industry standard American Institute of Architects form for easy processing and tracking.
“Quality as your differentiator is about far more than simply delivering on the specifications. It comes from the root of everything related to the project.”
Built for life
When a General Contractor is involved on your project you should be given a comprehensive warranty of at least one year. If a pipe should leak as a result of faulty installation, the General Contractor will fix the pipe, repair the drywall, and repaint the area. If you’ve acted as your own General Contractor then you’ll be liable for the repair or have to chase down subcontractors. It’s peace of mind that you really can’t buy that’s there beyond the finish date of the project. There are obvious limitations in material lifespan that should be considered during the design phase. Brick and stone will last longer and require less upkeep than wood siding or other materials. Some materials are meant to last generations!
Renovation and Construction Services offers the standard one year material and workmanship warranty. We focus on building lifelong relationships that comes from trust built during the project and often take care of warranty claims well after the one year warranty – its part of doing what’s right. We follow up every so often with our clients to correct any quality issues that may have occurred with seasonal changes. We also will advise on alternate materials if we feel they will be a better fit for the project. All appliances and fixtures carry their own manufactures express warranties and are warranted accordingly.
5. Project Management
Your project is in good hands
General Contractors need to have on site personnel to manage the project and observe issues or problems as or before they occur. They will monitor quality, deliveries, on site protection, and keep the work on schedule. It’s always a good idea to request who will be your project manager or superintendent before you sign a contract and try to specify, if it’s not already spelled out, how often they will be on site. A full time superintendent may be required on a large enough project along with a project manager. If you can’t get a clear answer then beware – having a General Contractor that lets the subcontractors run the job is a reality for some and your project and resulting quality will suffer. You should ask for their qualifications or to meet them in person since you’ll be interacting with these team members on a daily basis. Make sure those personalities match!
Renovation and Construction Services always staff’s its projects with a qualified superintendent and/or project manager who coordinates and oversees all activities on the project. Our team utilizes Microsoft Project for a scheduling tool to monitor the daily and weekly progress of the project. We believe the schedule is the true life blood of a project and build lead times of materials into our schedule accordingly so there is never a worry as to where we are at. Also, pending the budget, size of the project, timeline, and the involvement of other design professionals we may hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings that will have a set agenda to update all team members as to the currently progress and any issues that may have come up. Your project team is the core and foundation that holds everything together - Effective decision making, scope and cost are controlled, expectations are set among the project team, risk is managed, you’ll see an increase in quality and you’ll have a happier, more motivated team all around. This type of system comes from the culture Renovation and Construction Services stands for and has perfected.
No Finger Pointing
Your General Contractor is the go to point of contact for the project which places the accountability on them. An unfortunate part of the construction process is that trades often blame someone else when things go wrong. A General Contractor takes that liability off of your shoulders by making sure it is done correctly every step of the way. Always use a local General Contractor when you can. They will know where the local material suppliers are, have a good network of subcontractors that are best suited for your project, and will be aware of the climate and what products and construction details work best for the application.
Renovation and Construction Services does work in both the commercial and residential sectors. Some of their subcontractors are particular to certain industries whereas other can service a wide range. Having contacts in both industries is a valuable asset as we can pick which subcontractors will perform best on your project and are the most economical. A contractor can’t know everything but having contacts in the industry who do is a valuable asset. Grant has known some of his subcontractors since his childhood and those lifelong relationships are priceless in our industry. It speaks volumes that those subcontractors are still doing business with him. Renovation and Construction Services knows what subcontractors pair well together and which ones have worked as a team already - The end result is increased morale and quality.
7. Faster Completion & Quality Control
On time and in control
A General Contractor will complete the project faster simply because they know how to assemble the many moving parts. They need to have a crystal clear vision of how all those parts go together to help offset the risk of design errors and scheduling omissions. This vision allows them to foresee issues at the early stages of the project that could impact the final product. Trades will also give priority service to the General Contractor for whom they work with on a regular basis. They will also be familiar with their inner operations resulting in a safer and higher quality work environment. A client acting as a General Contractor will be on the bottom of the priority list for many trades and often time’s expectations don’t meet reality.
At Renovation and Construction Services our project managers create a schedule before any job starts, regardless of the size. During the course of creating the schedule we pour over the contract drawings and specifications. We ask ourselves questions about not only how all the pieces are going to fit, but also about who is going to fit them together, and how they are going to do it. As we find inevitable mistakes and oversights, we consider the solutions, and make plans to propose those solutions well in advance of when they are needed. Very few contractors will take the time to really understand the details; so those who do are naturally in a better position to lead. This process is part of our overall risk management on the project. We also have an internal check list that is reviewed at each milestone in the schedule – Our goal is to have a zero punch job at completion.
“Quality is never an accident, it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives” – William Foster
8. Pricing Strategy and Value Engineering
Bang for the buck
Time, Cost and Quality. These three items are known in the construction industry as the triple constraint or the iron triangle. The triangle demonstrates that quality, cost, and time are all interrelated. Focusing or fixing one point of the triangle impacts the other two points. In other words if one part of the triangle is fixed the other two points have to move, so if quality is fixed, time and/or cost may need to increase. Beware of a contractor that promises all three over his competitors. One can try to create a balance between all three but you must ask yourself and come to an agreement with your contractor which of these is the most important. It may be appealing to go with a contractor who has the lowest cost but a savvy client will realize that either quality or time will suffer. Unfortunately, these contractors don’t last long in the industry – another harsh reality when warranty claims arise that the perceived money saved up front wasn’t worth it in the long run. Some contractors will come in with the lowest cost but part of their business strategy is to make up the money with change orders due to unclear scope or lack of clarity in the contract documents. Switching materials on the project for a lesser grade or substituting without approval are other common strategies found by the non trust worthy General Contractor.
At Renovation and Construction Services we understand that a construction project is often like a puzzle. There are many ways to put it together and different areas to start in. Drawing on our decades of experience allows us to see the overall picture which results in a more fluid project that often times cost less. We are incredibly meticulous in our estimates to provide the most scope possible to eliminate any confusion on what’s included. We pass any discounts from suppliers and vendors directly to our clients and will not inflate prices. Once a contract is signed we create a schedule that matches the detail of our estimate so the project can be further refined as needed.
Operating with integrity starts with our initial consult where we start working together as a team right from the start.
9. Dealing with the unexpected.
There when it matters.
The plans and specifications will help mitigate the risk associated with a project but no matter how much you plan issues will always arise. The resulting impact, if not handled can be far reaching on a project. Knowing the next step and evaluating your options that provide a minimal impact to the schedule can sometimes be difficult. Without a well laid out plan it might be impossible to see how a few changes on the project could impact the big picture that results in costly budget overruns. Changes on the project, albeit via change orders, design issues, or just simply oversight can have a drastic impact to the schedule, final handover date and resulting quality.
At Renovation and Construction Services the whole picture of your project is taken into account. The philosophy and culture of our company is to care for our clients and the project team. The result is a dedicated team that isn’t often surprised on the job site. Our schedule helps highlight issues that others may overlook. If we are confronted with the unexpected issue you’ll have a dedicated project manager and/or superintendent with the knowledge on how to resolve it and adjust accordingly.
10. Commitment & Passion
Commitment is an act, not a word
Builders often get into a rut of building the same stuff every day. You need to find a contractor, or more so a project team that has the energy and commitment to make your project a success. Construction is not predictable and the uncertainty alone can make for challenging days and sleepless nights. The commitment they have to your project and the passion they elude on a daily basis shows with the subcontractors and can only work to further the success of your project.
When you have a passion for building, the obstacles simply become problems to solve on your way to building something you are proud of. Our General Manager is very proud of the footprint he has put in Tulsa over his life. Instead of pursuing his master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology he turned to his lifelong passion of building. He has to nurture that passion for building and is constantly feeding his curiosity about how things are put together, how processes and methods are changing, how new materials are getting incorporated into designs, and how new technology is affecting the building environment. You’ll often find him educating clients, working with sub-contractors as a team to knock out the project or deep in the code book or product specifications. He tries to inspire that same passion and commitment in each of our team members.
“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.”
Let us help make your project a reality today. A Tradition of Excellence - Renovation and Construction Services.