The pros and cons of being a self-perform contractor

Explore the advantages and limitations of being a self-perform contractor. Gain insights into increased project quality control and scalability challenges, empowering informed decisions about adopting this construction approach.

The pros and cons of being a self-perform contractor

Consistent labor shortages (particularly for subcontractors) have significantly impacted the progress of projects. Subcontractor labor is often staggered throughout project life cycles, as one task helps to inform the next. Any delays from subcontractor work can have a direct impact on project and resource schedules, as well as the overall quality of work.

Disruptions to labor availability and an increasingly competitive subcontractor market have many general contractors scaling their self-perform teams to handle key construction activities.

In this article, we’ll dive into some of the pros and cons of being a self-performing contractor.

What is self-perform?

Self-perform construction is the practice of a contractor performing their own work, rather than subcontracting it to another party. This means that the contractor is responsible for all aspects of the build, from labor to equipment and materials. It can be an effective way to stay on budget, control quality, and ensure timelines are met; but there are risks involved for the contractor as well.

Why do contractors tend to self-perform?

Contractors tend to self-perform work for a few reasons. For one, it can help them stay within budget by eliminating the cost of subcontracting labor and materials. It also allows them to maintain control over the quality and timeline of the project.

Self-performing construction companies have an edge when bidding on projects because it allows them to have more accurate project estimates.

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Common misconceptions about self-perform construction

A common misconception about self-performing is that since the contractor is doing all the work themselves, their workforce is less skilled and therefore more likely to be unable to handle the work they’re given.

It assumes that the general contractor is not picking their workers carefully and that their in-house team lacks proper specialty. Of course, while this can be the case for some companies, most are equipped with crews that are skilled enough to get the work done on time, providing quality workmanship while cutting down on the time needed to have to shop around for subcontractors.

The pros of being a self-perform contractor

More certainty and control

Being a self-performing contractor means you have greater control over the work being done, project schedules, and your firm’s flexibility when changes are needed. Most importantly, you have more control over the quality of the work on site. You may have high standards for your projects, and using your own team helps to ensure those company standards are met consistently.

Better safety

Safety should always be a top priority. Your self-perform teams will have a better understanding of your organization’s safety guidelines, and you’ll likely have crews that have worked together on multiple projects. That understanding and familiarity with one another allow your team to enforce and maintain safety standards on the job site better than an external subcontractor team.

Client relationships

Whether you’re using subcontractors or doing self perform work, it’s your company reputation on the line. By taking on more tasks and project phases internally, you’re better equipped to respond to clients faster and more clearly. You’ll also have a better understanding of materials needed, vendor options, and costs. Making recommendations that are in your client’s best interest allows you to add continued value to the relationship straight through to project completion and beyond.

Lower costs

Being a self-performing contractor allows you to lower costs throughout the entire project lifecycle. Having a clear understanding of the work that needs to be done and the labor required to complete it allows for more accurate budget information. You’re also able to create a more efficient resource strategy. If work falls behind schedule, you’ll have full support from your organization to re-strategize project resources to keep progress moving forward.

On top of that, you’re able to streamline planning by eliminating the subcontractor selection and onboarding process, saving money.

More competitive

Everyone’s trying to make a buck. You have your margins, subcontractors have their margins, and clients aren’t necessarily looking to break the bank for their projects. Self-performing some (or all) of the activities involved in your project allows you to cut out the middleman and provide your clients with a more competitive project budget.

Improved performance and quality

By controlling the entire process, contractors can ensure that the work is done to their expectations and that timelines are met. This can be especially helpful when working with complex projects, such as remodels or renovations that require a lot of attention to detail.

Better time management

When contractors are self-performing, they don’t have to wait for subcontractors to arrive and finish their work. This can help them move quickly from one task to the next, saving valuable time.

The cons of being a self-perform contractor

Location can be a limiting factor

There aren’t many negatives to doing self perform construction, but location can play an important role when it comes to cost. Depending on the location of the project, you may need to consider using subcontractors. The travel time and cost for your self-perform teams alone may have a significant impact on your profit performance in the long run.

Resource management

Depending on the systems you have in place to manage resources, adding in your self perform team can add to the complexity of the planning process. Managing project resources normally requires weekly, sometimes monthly updates, whereas self-performing general contractors deal with labor requests on a daily basis. 

Keeping your self-perform team informed of schedule updates on a daily basis can be tedious if there aren’t efficient communication channels in place. For more information about resource management, check out our ultimate guide on resource management.

Utilize Bridgit for streamlined labor management

Self-performing can be a great way for contractors to save money, maintain quality control, and maximize their time. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making this decision. Contractors should consider their own capabilities and resources when deciding if it’s right for them. With proper preparation, self-perform work can provide contractors with an edge in the competitive world of construction.

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Construction resource management tools, like Bridgit Bench, can help to consolidate project and field operations while streamlining labor requests and project assignments for your self-perform construction teams. Gain access to a holistic view of your entire workforce strategy. Superintendents can make requests right from the job site with the Bridgit Bench mobile app, specifying any required skills and experience. From there, Bridgit Bench will filter your team and let you know who the best fit is.
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Michel Richer

Michel Richer is the Manager of Content and Product Marketing at Bridgit. He started in the construction industry early on with a local restoration company. Michel is driven to propel the construction industry forward by helping to eliminate outdated, ineffective processes.

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