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General Contractor vs. Home Builder: What's The Difference?

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KW Homes

Published on Sep 5, 2023

General Contractor vs. Home Builder: What's The Difference? | Saskatoon Home Builder


Buying a new home is an exciting experience! Just as it is exciting, it can also be very scary!

Whether you know exactly what to do during this process, or are as clueless as a goldfish. This article is here to help you understand the differences between a general contractor and a custom home builder.

While both do construction activities, these two roles are very different. Understanding the main differences will help you when it comes to making the right choice.

At the end of the day, we want our dream home or renovation to be done right and avoid being overcharged!

Understanding General Contractors

A general contractor is like the captain of a pirate ship.

Responsible for the entire construction project, they bear the authority to ensure that the construction project follows the precise treasure map, or in this case the project's blueprint.

General contractors are responsible for obtaining and organizing everything necessary to complete the project. This includes obtaining the necessary permits and purchasing materials, equipment, and labour. The general contractor traditionally hires subcontractors to perform the various tasks needed to complete your project.

Acting as the middle-man between you and the sub-contractors, they take a commission for finding and organizing the labour required for the entire process.

Essentially, they are not the actual people who will build your house. The general contractor's main purpose is to make sure everything is done properly and relieve you of the headache you would have if you were to figure everything out by yourself.

A good general contractor keeps a keen eye on everything. They navigate obstacles and challenges to ensure that every part of the project is done right, ultimately leading to the successful discovery of the construction project's "treasure," which is its completion according to the blueprint.

Understanding Homebuilders

Homebuilders are the ones who complete the entire project on their own.

Having a team capable of doing most if not all types of jobs in this industry. They will be with you from the starting design all the way to the finished product.

Home builders are similar to the master chefs in a gourmet restaurant. They carefully obtain the finest ingredients (materials and labor), craft a detailed recipe (blueprints and plans), and skillfully execute each step, from the prep work (foundation and framing) to the final presentation (interior finishes), ensuring every dish (home) satisfies the customer's taste (needs and preferences).

Usually having everything they need, they may outsource during different stages to find sub-contractors and other specialists for jobs that require special licenses. This can be jobs such as electrical work, plumbing, and installing air conditioning systems.

When to Hire a General Contractor

For home renovations that are long and arduous, such as turning your attic into a livable space or converting your garage into a studio, it would make sense to have the expertise of a general contractor.

When your project involves significant renovations or remodeling work that requires the labour of many specialists (which an attic conversion does), it's best to go with a general contractor.

A general contractor will take the responsibility of sourcing and managing professionals, handling the paperwork and ensuring your attic conversion is done on time and stays within the appropriate budget.

Advantages of General Contractors

When you hire an experienced general contractor, they bring a wealth of knowledge and connections in the construction industry. Their expertise usually cuts down your costs significantly, provides a higher quality product, and saves you plenty of time.

You can always try to be your own general contractor and many people think this will save money. The problem is you might not have the connections or expertise to find the experts required.

General Contractors bring a diverse skill set, making them capable of addressing various challenges that may arise during your project, ensuring a silky-smooth process.

In summary, general contractors make the whole process easy and stress-free for you. You won't need to reach out to different professionals one by one. They have all bases covered!

When to Hire a Home Builder

If your project is the alluring adventure of constructing a brand-new home from the ground up. A professional home builder is the better choice.

Home builders specialize in the art of bringing your unique vision to life and provide detailed guidance throughout the entire process.

For those seeking a custom house, home builders are the experts in creating homes that perfectly align with your dream. They are intimately involved with every aspect of the business. From the initial design and planning stages all the way to the hands-on construction and any other tasks in between.

Advantages of Home Builders

Homebuilders have extensive experience and knowledge of local regulations and construction practices. This can lead to significant cost savings and access to the best quality materials.

Home builders are skilled project managers, expertly handling schedules and budgets to ensure a smooth and successful home construction process.

Their versatile skill set enables them to navigate any challenges that may arise, guaranteeing a seamless realization of your dream home while staying within the budget.

Their efficient project management assures that your project remains on track and within your financial constraints, offering you confidence and ease throughout the entire process.

The problem with general contractors is the fact that many different teams are in play. This can lead to confusion, miscommunication, and project delays.

With a custom home builder, you will have one team that will be at your service.

Key Differences

General contractors are skilled at efficiently managing complex projects, making them the preferred choice for smaller tasks like renovations and ventures that require different specialists.

They will coordinate various subcontractors and ensure that projects, like home renovation, requiring multiple specialized trades, are completed smoothly.

Home builders specialize in creating entirely new, custom homes that align precisely with your unique vision.

They are experts in guiding you through the entire process of designing, planning, and constructing your dream home, from the ground up.

When hiring custom home builders, you are investing in specialized experience, attention to detail, quality, and value for your money.

While custom home builders may appear more expensive than general contractors, that expense is worth it!

It is generally a much more intimate relationship. When you're on the journey to a beautiful new home!

Final Advice

The fate of your construction project depends on choosing the right professional (contractor vs builder).

Whether you lean towards the connections of a general contractor or the artistry of a home builder, your decision carries substantial weight in shaping the final outcome. Prioritize thorough research and reach out to KW Homes for advice as you begin your journey toward a successful project.

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