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Understanding General Contractors

For individuals or families that are considering a home improvement or development project, one of the fundamental parts of the equation is finding the right general contractor. Once the search is complete, keeping an open line of communication is critical. Even the most experienced general contractor, and the most well-meaning homeowner, can face a difficult road if issues aren’t addressed candidly. It often helps for homeowners to have an understanding of what general contractors are faced with when dealing with clients.


Clients often have very little patience when it comes to finishing their project. Homeowners would love nothing more than to wave a magic wand and move into their new home. It’s important for clients to understand the overall construction process, and all the bumps that may present themselves along the way. Contractors want nothing more than to please their customers, and often things may be promised simply to calm a situation. Open communication will facilitate establishing a comprehensive schedule that the client and general contractor can both agree to.

Plan changes that arise well into a build can be a very difficult issue for the general contractor. Clients who wish to change design elements when construction is in full swing can cause added stress for both parties. Certain changes can result in serious delays and cost overruns. It is important for homeowners to understand that every change, no matter how small, may result in added expenses and additional build time. This is especially true for structural alterations.


Going above and beyond is something that good general contractors will always strive for. Clients who are not familiar with general building practices will often think nothing of asking for extras. The usual wording may be something like; “while you are doing that, can you do this as well?” as with plan changes, small verbal requests like the scenario above can add up. Of course there will be unexpected changes as the project moves forward, just remember to openly discuss the project in full detail with your general contractor in order to dilute the amount of instances necessary for change.


Unfortunately, the general contractor is often the one that must deliver bad news. Certain aspects of a construction project may result in delayed deliveries, permits that require attention or materials that are back ordered. As much as a general contractor may try to head these disasters off at the pass, they will, and do happen. Often the key to a job’s success and speed is simple communication. As with any business, weekly progress meetings and updates are crucial. This is the time when delays, changes, or any other issues are discussed and resolved. Poor communication can leave both the general contractor and the homeowner with a bad taste in their mouths. Consistent, quality communication translates into a happy homeowner, general contractor, and staff.

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