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 the bathroom that 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 reach out to a website such as this and discover there are two types of professionals available to lead your project: general contractors and project managers. 

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

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

General Contractor: Your Project’s Personal Assistant

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

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.

If 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 more directly with you throughout the whole project, pitching ideas, giving suggestions, proffering advice, but ultimately leaving final decisions 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, orders materials, and otherwise manages the project, however they usually do not have their own employees working various aspects of the job the way a general contractor does. 

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 about the same or possibly just a little less than the general contractor’s fee, the difference being that the project manager doesn’t have a financial interest in the homeowner’s decisions (since they are not working, as the contractor is, for what amounts to a commission). 

Not only does this give the homeowner piece of mind that the project manager isn’t suggesting expensive plans or materials just so they can take a cut, since the project manager’s loyalty is to the homeowner and the homeowner alone 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, in both quality of work and design.

Choose, but Choose Wisely

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, will present you with a small set of options, then manage your project from start to finish with as little further input from you as possible. 

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, advocate for you when negotiating subcontractor prices and rates, keep you abreast of both major and minor developments, and make sure everything is done to your satisfaction before signing off on the job. 

Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers’ 30-plus years of experience enable us to find solutions that most newly formed construction companies cannot. We’re a secure, safe and reliable contractor with a reputation for excellent service. And we offer free estimates on all home improvement and remodeling projects to help you figure out what works best with your needs and your budget. Call or email today for a consultation and let us guide your next project.

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