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Top Reasons to Hire a Self-Perform Contractor

General contractors are great facilitators. They manage, delegate, and oversee project tasks to ensure a cohesive and functional whole while their subcontractors execute each scope of work in sequence. This traditional model is effective, but at times vulnerable to deficiencies such as miscommunication and cost overruns. Thankfully, an even older tradition in project execution can provide a way around these obstacles and offer a more direct path to success.

General contratctors that self-perform the trade work they would normally hand off to subcontractors more closely resemble the ancient role of the “master builder,” where project vision, management, and trade expertise and responsibilities overlap. Self-perform work typically involves key trades such as concrete, masonry, steel, carpentry and framing, pipefitting, welding, millwright, ironwork, and mechanical/electrical systems and instrumentation. General contractors who self-perform work can often deliver projects faster and at a lower cost than those that bid out trades to subcontractors, and they enjoy greater control over the quality of the work and jobsite conditions.


On-time delivery and speed to market are top priorities for commercial and industrial customers, so construction firms that can provide these benefits hold a significant edge over the competition. Although subcontractors typically do great work, the model of project execution they represent contains inherent pain points such as less integration between teams, longer supply chains, and fewer safeguards against delays and costs related to labor shortages and inadequate work.


Contractors that self-perform have complete control over how a project is handled and have the skilled labor resources needed to meet deadlines and maximize speed to market without sacrificing safety and quality standards.

Below are eight key benefits of hiring a self-performing contractor:


  1. The Need for Speed.


The ability to accelerate activities is a key advantage of self-perform general contractors. Quick decisions made on-site and facilitated by a common reporting structure can significantly reduce delays and errors. Self perform also limits surprise no-shows by work crews and drawn-out negotiations when rework or scope changes are required.


  1. No Substitute for Expertise.


Firms that self-perform also have an advantage in that their crews are already vetted and field-tested. Because  the same career trade professionals execute the work, firms and their customers enjoy a higher, more consistent standard of performance. This can be especially helpful for teams working on complex projects that involve remodeling,renovations, and sensitive industrial processes that require uncommon or innovative solutions.


  1. Delivery with Discipline.


Keeping work in-house makes for more accurate and predictable forecasting, scheduling, bidding, and purchasing. This allows self-performers to maintain control over the project’s quality, mobilization timeline, overall cost , and speed to market—”a top priority for customers that depend on the contractor to hand over the keys to a new facility on time or early,” says Chad Usherwood, director of operations for NexGen Contracting, a Gray company based in Franklin, Tennessee.


  1. Communicate & Conquer.


Because self-performing contractors have a fuller understanding of the general contractor’s organization, policies, and leadership, they’re able to more quickly respond to any design or construction challenges that arise on a project. Rather than have messages relayed through intermediaries, communication with proper stakeholders is immediate, which leads to faster, more appropriate resolutions—a point customers are always quick to appreciate.


  1. Consistent & Under Control.


Consider the immense advantage of completing project after project within a single organization: the same craft talent, same administrative points of contact, same training and corporate policies, same equipment and materials, same required forms and procedures. They all add up to a team with a strong sense of itself—its roles and responsibilities as well as its areas for growth. For customers, it meansfewer mistakes and delays and more of what they asked for the first time around.


  1. Safety First (and Second and Third).


Safety and quality of life are the No. 1 core value and the most important consideration every day for Gray and NexGen. “The men and women in the field executing work deserve to have the best day possible at work,” says Usherwood. “This begins with safety. A pre-task plan that identifies risks and hazards allows for scopes of work to be discussed and well-executed. A self-perform contractor has a site safety plan from Day 1, which sets the tone and expectation for the project in its entirety.” Self-perform teams benefit from the critical context of having worked together on multiple projects and understanding the company’s safety standards and practices better than an external subcontractor team.


  1. Keeping Costs Down.


“A general contractor that has the ability to self-perform can be transparent with the customer and show appropriate general conditions, fees, and mark-ups, as there is a larger portion of work that can be negotiated,” says Usherwood. Self-perform contractors can do a better job of controlling costs throughout the project lifecycle by relying on more accurate budget data, by coordinating more closely with all project leaders, and by saving on time and costs associated with hiring and training subcontractors.


  1. Partners for the Long Haul.


The best way to create long-term customer relationships is to deliver projects of the highest possible quality in the shortest length of time, at or under budget. By understanding all aspects of the project, self-performing contractors can be fully transparent with the customer, maintain open lines of communication, be responsive, and make faster, more accurate decisions—all of which will lead to repeat business and recommendations.

"A general contractor that has the ability to self-perform can be transparent with the customer and show appropriate general conditions, fees, and mark-ups, as there is a larger portion of work that can be negotiated."
Chad Usherwood, Director of Operations

NexGen Contracting, A Gray Company

The construction industry is a competitive business. General contractors must be as competitive as possible to win bids. When firms can self-perform work, they are not paying for subcontractors and can pass savings and the value of their own expertise directly to the customer. Firms and owners alike benefit from self-perform’s ability to minimize the impact of labor shortages in the trades, as well as an increasingly competitive subcontractor market.


“Having direct craft that can be deployed to execute work ensures a high-quality deliverable, versus the hope that the low bidder can meet the expectations of the customer,” says Usherwood. Ultimately, satisfying those expectations and exceeding the industry’s status quo is what self-perform capabilities are all about.

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.

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