General Contractors vs. Project Managers: Which One is Right for You?

So you’ve decided you’re fed up with creaky, worn-out floors. Or maybe your bathroom looks like it was designed by Ethel Merman. It’s time for a remodel! You’re too busy to tackle the job yourself, so you start googling and discover there are two types of professionals available to lead your project. There are general contractors and there are project managers. 

But what’s the difference? Is one more expensive than the other? More experienced? More professional?

We’re here to help you understand the difference. Once you decide which is best for your project, we can provide the services you need to realize the remodel of your dreams.

General Contractor: Your Project’s Personal Assistant

Both a general contractor and a project manager juggle the various elements of your project.
A general contractor is like a personal assistant: they do most of the work for you. They’ll set appointments, crunch the numbers, even make design choices if you’d prefer to let them.

If you’re looking for the most hands-off remodeling experience possible, you most likely need the services of a general contractor. General contractors are like personal assistants for your remodel. They assume responsibility for the entire project. They handle the permitting process, order materials, and ensure the completion of work. 

A General Contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment (such as engineering vehicles and tools) and services necessary for the construction of the project. 

To do this, they hire other professionals, called subcontractors, who are like departmental secretaries, each tasked with handling a limited aspect of the operation. 

Responsibilities of the general contractor as well as the subcontractors may include applying for building permits, securing the property, providing temporary utilities on site, managing personnel, disposing or recycling of construction waste, monitoring schedules and cash flows, and maintaining accurate records.

As the homeowner, once you hire a general contractor your job will be to sit back and sign the checks, which will probably need to be cut at regular intervals. 

As with all areas in life, convenience comes with a price tag. General contractors routinely charge up to 20% of the total cost of the project. For people with the means, this is money well spent. For others, some cost saving measures might be in order.

This could include hiring a…

Project Manager: Your Project’s Life Coach

Both general contractors and project managers will outline your project.
A project manager is like a life coach: they’ll offer suggestions, provide tools, and assist with the decision making, but ultimately the project is yours and all decisions must be made by you.

A general contractor is like a personal assistant, handling all the minutia of your remodeling project with little input from you. A project manager is more like a life coach. They work directly with you during the project. They pitch ideas, give suggestions and offer advice. But ultimately, final decisions are up to you.

A project manager has residential construction experience, and, much like a general contractor, stays on site through the project. A project manager schedules subcontractors and orders materials. Although they manage the project, they usually don’t have their own employees working the job the way general contractors do. 

Unlike a general contractor, who charges a percentage of the total cost of the project, a project manager usually works for either a flat fee or an hourly rate. This usually ends up costing the homeowner the same or a little less than the general contractor’s fee. The difference is that the project manager doesn’t have a financial interest in the homeowner’s decisions. They are not working, as the contractor is, for what amounts to a commission. 

The homeowner can have piece of mind knowing that the project manager isn’t suggesting plans or materials just to take a cut. The project manager’s loyalty is to the homeowner and the homeowner alone. That’s why you can feel assured they are keeping your best interests (and, most importantly, budget) in mind. 

Also, the project manager will ensure the work meets the specific standards established by the homeowner. That means both quality of work and design.

Choose, but Choose Wisely

If Indiana Jones were about to start a project, he'd have to choose wisely whether to hire a general contractor or a project manager.
Like Indiana Jones, the choice is yours—but choose wisely.

Which is better for you, a general contractor or a project manager? It all depends on how much of a hand you want to have in the process. 

Like a personal assistant, a general contractor just needs a few details to get started. They will present you with a small set of options, then manage your project from start to finish. Throughout it all, they’ll ask for as little input from you as necessary.

More like a life coach, a project manager is on your team, but you’re still the head coach. They’ll follow your day-to-day directions. Also, they’ll advocate for you when negotiating subcontractor prices and rates. They’ll keep you abreast of both major and minor developments. Finally, they’ll make sure everything is done to your satisfaction before signing off on the job. 

Need help deciding whether you need a general contractor or a project manager?  Call or email Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers today for a free consultation. We know you only want the best in construction. That’s why it’s important to hire the best in the business, and at Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers, we can guarantee you that’s us

Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers have been flooring and remodeling Kentuckiana for over 30 years. Our certified installers have the ingenuity and know-how to assist you in choosing the perfect floors for your home. Don’t take matters into your own hands—let us guide your next project.

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