We’ve heard a lot of buzz about the housing markets in the past 5 years. One of the biggest beneficiaries of strong housing demand is the construction industry. Residential builders and general contractors definitely had a windfall and made a good amount of money from strong housing demand. So what does a general contractor / residential builder in British Columbia really do? What does the average day in the life of a licensed home builder or general contractor look like?
The Mornings of a Vancouver-Based Licensed Home Builder or a General Contractor
Mornings start very early for those employed as licensed home builders or general contractors. Up long before the sun, the general contractor is already hard at working planning the sequence of events which must occur in the day ahead.
The commute to the morning office often takes place before the sun comes up. Though some general contractors do make use of the train system to commute to a downtown Vancouver office, most simply take their own transportation since their truck is a workhorse that is needed throughout their workday.
Upon arrival at the office, there are many details for the general contractor to oversee, approve, and finalize. Each plays an intricate role in the day’s project, meaning attention to detail is important even at this early hour of the morning. A slight mistake or wrong calculation could lead to lost time on the job, leading to cost overruns and production delays.
Once the general contractor or licensed home builder has carefully reviewed all email, checked phone messages, and approved the day’s schedule, it is time to head to the construction site. Here, the general contractor’s main role is to meet with each individual that has been awarded a subcontractor’s position. During this time, they discuss progress made, obstacles they may be facing, materials needed, and much more. These early morning subcontractor meetings are vital to help keep all of the workers on schedule and within budget. But more than this, it allows the general contractor to maintain control of each aspect of the build and to take charge of things that need to change in order for the project to be completed on time.
With so many aspects to a new home or commercial buildings, there are many people for the general contractor to meet with during their morning on the job site. During this time, they make it their highest priority to inspect each section of the work to ensure it complies with building code, meets safety regulations, and maintains the established standards of the quality craftsmanship their company is renowned for.
Since most general contractors or licensed home builders manage several projects at once, they may need to visit several different job sites throughout their day.
When a general contractor visits a site, their focus is on three very important components of every building project. These are:
- Is the project going to be completed within the forecasted budget?
- Will the project be completed on time?
- Is the work of the standard promised to the client?
These three principles remain at the forefront of the general contractor’s mind as they assess and inspect each ongoing project and discuss the work with their subcontractors. During this time, lists are also compiled of supplies which must be ordered, repairs which must be done to equipment or work done to the build, and future work to be accomplished.
Since Vancouver is a bustling city with a busy transportation system, delays can be experienced when travelling along the city’s busy highways. The general contractor knows the most direct routes that experience the least traffic to help them maximize their working hours.
By the end of the busy morning, the licensed home builder or general contractor is more than ready to enjoy a bite to eat.
The Lunch Break of a Vancouver-Based Licensed Home Builder or General Contractor
Though lunchtime is meant to fuel the body for further work, the general contractor or licensed home builder likes to make each moment count by enjoying a tasty meal and keeping current on developments at each of their job sites.
During their lunch break, general contractors make phone calls to suppliers to order needed equipment or materials. Emails are exchanged with support staff at the home office with requests for details to be organized to help the project to continue to proceed smoothly. Any requests for information or action items requiring follow up may be addressed during this time as well.
The Afternoons of a Vancouver-Based Licensed Home Builder or General Contractor
Since all building projects will come to an end, the general contractor’s afternoons are often filled with meetings where they will gather the requisite information to bid on upcoming projects. These meetings typically take place with engineers and architects who outline all of the specifications for the proposed build. The general contractor carefully notes each detail for a future time when they will apply their hand to crafting their bid for the job. Here is yet another area where attention to detail is a very important aspect of the general contractor’s role.
Following these meetings, the general contractor will need to formulate their bid. It is important that the general contractor or licensed home builder come to these project bids with a well-crafted proposal which hits the right earmarks of an attractive but realistic price point for the potential client while still maintaining a profit for their company. Since many general contractors will bid for the same job, they may come away with nothing for their efforts, but on other occasions will gain new projects to add to their roster. This is an ongoing aspect of work as a licensed home builder or general contractor, and to be able to accurately price potential jobs without the risk of losing money or going over budget, the general contractor must become an expert at formulating bids based on real numbers and not merely guesstimates.
Following any bid meetings, the general contractor can then return to their home office to assess the day’s events, meet with office staff, and formulate an action plan for the next day. This time can include follow up email or phone correspondence to organize critical details for their projects or research for future bids. Other tasks the general contractor must address include:
- Outsourcing tasks to administrative personnel
- Signing and paying of invoices
- Interviewing subcontractors for new builds
- Following up on previously submitted bids
The Nights of a Vancouver-Based Licensed Home Builder or General Contractor
Since little work can be done on a job site after dark, the general contractor’s formal work day typically can end when the sun goes down. However, many involved in the trade opt to take paper and administration work home with them, working on proposals and crafting lists of action items for the next day.
Since many licensed builders and general contractors are self employed, they would also have to deal with the bank, bookkeeping, accounting, registrations, filing and other administrative duties. Those who employ others or hire contractors will have to deal with payroll, benefits and additional paperwork. Night time is typically the perfect time to get this done.
In short, there is never a dull moment as a general contractor!
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