General Contractor Blog

What is a general contractor worth?

How much is your general contractor worth? How much should you reasonably expect to pay the person who is responsible for managing your construction or remodeling project?

  One way to determine fair compensation is to consider how other tradespeople are compensated. How much, for example, is your plumber or electrician worth?

  In the Santa Barbara area, plumbers and electricians typically bill $80 to $100 per hour.  Generally speaking, clients pretty much accept this rate without question when they get require a plumber or electrician’s services.  Appliance repair, auto repair, heating and air -conditioning, and a host of other service-related professionals charge similar rates. A quality general contractor will also charge this much, and here’s why.

  1. A good general contractor is knowledgeable about all the building trades. He or she has to be in order to supervise their execution. Moreover, there’s a written test to confirm that knowledge to earn the contractor’s license. On several occasions I have stopped plumbing or electrical work in progress because it was not being performed correctly—meaning to code and to last. As general contractor, that’s my job. Clients will come to me, not the subcontractor, if there are problems with the work after the fact. And of course it’s far easier to correct plumbing or electrical mistakes before the work is covered up, rather than afterwards.

  2. A general contractor is responsible for scheduling the work so that it is done most efficiently. This requires knowledge of the entire construction process, as well as what each subcontractor or craftsperson needs. Some of these steps are obvious—you simply can’t put the roof on before the framing—but others are not so straightforward. You install the rough plumbing before the rough electrical, for example, and you’d better keep the job moving forward on schedule, or pay the electrician to stand around waiting for the rough plumbing to be finished; or more likely, watch them drive away to another job…and then face the problem of rescheduling them later—perhaps weeks later.

  3. A good contractor is a problem-solver—or better still, a problem-eliminator. It is often just as important to know what not to do, as what to do. For example, we were recently asked to give an estimate for installing a French drain. When we got to the job site and began to analyze the situation, we realized that an existing underground drain was probably clogged, leaving a downspout with no place to discharge. The water was running under the house and causing problems with the foundation, leading previous consultants to recommend a French drain. Instead, we recommended clearing the clogged drain, installing drain boxes with a simple drain line to move excess water away from the downspout and the broken downslope pipe, and re-grading the slope to funnel water to the existing storm drain. The several hours invested in correctly analyzing the problem saved thousands of dollars in labor, materials, and re-landscaping. Installing a French drain would not only have been expensive; it might not have even done any good. How much was the general contractor worth in this case?

Years of experience and the resulting ability to give good advice have value. Is it worth it to the client to pay the contractor the same hourly as they would a plumber or an electrician? If we didn’t think so we wouldn’t be in this business.

Unfortunately, there’s no way of calculating the money saved over construction problems that have been avoided. Clients simply expect a contractor to get the job done right, the first time. That’s why it pays to hire an experienced, quality contractor, such as Micheal Parks Construction, Inc. You may think you’re paying a little more–because you may never know what problems you avoided and what expenses you didn’t incur.

For what it’s worth.
PHONE: (805) 895-3015