People are often under the assumption that the term ‘general contractor’ refers to someone with a wide range of responsibilities. In actuality, the job description is not that wide. A general contractor is a person who has the responsibility of supervising a construction project. These projects can be both commercial or residential in nature and can vary from simple homes to high rise buildings in urban areas.
Just like any other industry, the construction industry in Burbank is also subject to myths and misunderstandings that are in dire need of correction. Homeowners are subject to various misconceptions about general contractors which is why we are going to bust them.
Myth 1: Landlords can save a lot of money by buying and using their own materials. General contractors make it unnecessarily expensive.
Truth: General contractors are professionals who have years of experience in construction, including materials. Contracting firms usually purchase various materials from different sources at discounted prices. Since they are experienced, they know beforehand whether the materials they purchase are faulty or not. This gives them a major edge over the homeowners who try to save money by trying to buy materials themselves.
Homeowners are inexperienced and cannot differentiate between good and bad products. Hence, their materials can end up halting the whole project, if they turn out to be faulty, and incurring further costs. This ultimately leads to the owner spending more than they thought they would. So, it is highly recommended that when a general contractor is hired, they should be allowed to use their own materials.
Myth 2: As long as a general contractor has an insurance certificate that is up to date, there is nothing to worry about.
Truth: This is not entirely true. Yes, the certificate does mean that the risk has decreased for the homeowner. However, it does not mean that the risk has disappeared entirely. Regardless of how much coverage the general contractor has, certain accidents can occur that would directly impact the landlord. A contractor’s insurance usually does not cover the work itself. So, if a certain mistake was to occur, the insurance would probably not cover it. An example could be the wrong material used for a fence causing it to fall over. The insurance coverage can vary but the point is still the same: the contractor you hire is just as important as the insurance they have. If the general contractor is reliable, there is nothing to worry about.
Myth 3: It is not wise to hire a general contractor for a single task like house painting. It is too expensive.
Truth: Well, generally this is true. However, a simple cost-benefit analysis can provide us with a little more insight. General contractors are experienced and only acquire their licenses after receiving an education and working for a long period of time. Painting your house does not require a license, however, doing so by yourself can be highly risky. You might end up damaging a part of the house without realizing it. For instance, certain parts of a window should never be painted. Doing so would nullify the warranty. So, you might end up saving money now but, in the future, when you need to get your windows replaced, you will suffer. This is one example of how taking matters into your own hands is not always such a great idea. It is better to take an informed decision rather than jump the gun.
Myth 4: The BBB rating is all you need to look at.
Truth: BBB stands for Better Business Bureau. BBB is a renowned corporation that assigns rankings or ratings to businesses based on different aspects. These aspects include interaction with customers, complaints, and information from the business itself along with public data sources. Due to its credibility, people tend to blindly trust a company with a positive BBB rating. The ratings are useful; however, one should not be entirely dependent upon them. A general contractor with a high BBB rating might have gotten that rating because of specializing in something specific. Hiring them for a project that is different from what they specialize in could end up causing you, a lot of damage. So, don’t just trust the BBB rating blindly.
Myth 5: Any general contractor will do. After all, they are all the same.
Truth: No, they are not. General contractors vary in qualification, experience, costs and amount of time. Each project is unique; therefore, it is important to search for a general contractor who has experience related to what you are looking to build. A general contractor of a high caliber will be able to thoroughly understand what you, the landlord, want. Such general contractors will also tell you the costs exactly. You will not be able to negotiate with them as they will directly give you the final costs with the reasonable profits already included. Decent general contractors will have repeat customers and a good reputation.
An Informed Point of View
General contracting is not an easy business nor is it everyone’s cup of tea. Like any other job, it requires hard work, dedication and lots of training. It is high time that we, as a community, become more informed about the role of general contractors in society and give them their due credit. So the next time you hear about a general contractor who’s killed a project due to nonpayment, don’t assume it’s true, read about it.