When you undertake a building or remodeling project, you can turn to a wide variety of professionals for direction, including general contractors, subcontractors, architects and design-build contractors.
But sometimes it seems the more people available to help, the more questions arise: Do you need to hire someone to fill all of those roles, or just some of them?
Which jobs require which roles?
What is the best way to get the right people on the job, minimize hassle and maximize cost savings?
Unfortunately, one answer doesn't work for every situation, but the following tips will help you better understand which resources are available to you and help you select exactly the right contractor or contractors for your project.
Here is a short primer on key contractor roles.
General contractors coordinate and construct projects that typically involve three or more subcontractor trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, painting, roofing or electrical work. In most states, general contractors need a license to operate. Many who specialize in production concentrate on bidding and building from plans drawn by design specialists.
Architects represent the most highly educated and trained category of designers, with a college degree and state certification. Architects can help you detail exactly what you want, draw plans and list material specifications. They may also oversee your project while it's in progress. In addition, an architect can be an excellent referral source for other professionals, as they often have an established pool of designers and general contractors they have worked with in the past.
Design-build contractors offer both architectural and construction services, and can carry a job from inception to completion. Because one firm is accountable for the entire project, this approach can often result in a less expensive design that is practical to build and causes less confusion between design and construction specialists who may not see eye to eye.
Choosing your team
Depending on the size and complexity of your project, your building and remodeling team may include one or all of the above players. While hiring each one incurs a cost, don't assume that eliminating one or more roles will reduce the ultimate cost of your projecteach can bring cost-saving ideas or capabilities to the table.
Interviewing a wide variety of professionals before you start your project is the best way to learn about a company's credentials. You can also get a feel for how well their representatives understand your goals and requirements, how flexible they are about working with ideas or individuals from other organizations, and whether or not they would make a valuable addition to your project team.