1. The reason that acting as your own general contractor can save you money is that you will invest a lot of time and assume a lot of risk in the construction of your project.
2. General contractors have experience, knowledge, and a large network of resources. In order to act in the same capacity you will need to do some extra leg work and ask lots of questions. Expect to make some mistakes and allocate adequate contingency in your budget cover them.
3. You are the only one in a position to see “the big picture.” It is easy to get caught up in the minutia of a project. Although the details are important, as general contractor you must step back at regular intervals and look ahead to what needs to be done to be ready for the next phase of construction.
4. Building is foremost an exercise in communication. As the general contractor you are responsible for coordinating the communications of everyone involved in the building of your project to proceed.
5. If you do not have experience managing construction subcontractors and trades people you must take the time to understand their concerns with managing time, money, and risk in their work environment. The experience and knowledge of the people working on your project is your most valuable resource and should be managed as such.
6. Each trade is interested in doing their work at the most efficient time and in the most efficient way. It is up to you as the general contractor to listen to their input and then determine what is the best time and way for the project. You are responsible coordinating the sequence of the work.
7. You will need to determine where trades need to coordinate and lead that coordination. For example: the plumber will need to know where lights go so that he can keep his pipes out of the way for the electrician.
8. Ask questions about scope of work. What is included and what is not? What is expected of you by the trade contractors? For example: who is responsible for trash removal? Or jobsite cleanup and safety?
9. When you order the sink and it does not have the drain parts that the plumber needs you will be responsible for tracking them down.
10. Write out a critical path schedule for your project so that you understand the sequence of construction and where possible conflicts are. Update the schedule at regular intervals; as projects evolve the critical path may shift.
11. Avoid the temptation to put items not on the critical path off. Always work towards the completion of the project not just the completion of the critical path.
12. Many items need to be ordered in advance. Start researching product lead times well in advance of when you need them so that you are not surprised by a long lead time item that holds up construction or forces an expensive out of sequence installation.