House Flipping: When to Be a General Contractor and When to Hire Out

by Sally Hechter 03/03/2021

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

House flipping projects typically take between 45 and 90 days to complete. But when subcontractors have to put your renovations on the back burner, they might incline entrepreneurs serving as general contractors with the right skills to roll up their sleeves. Such scenarios beg whether fix-and-flip business owners are better off going it alone or relying on other construction professionals. It may come as something of a surprise, but the best course of action may lay somewhere in the middle.

What Does A General Contractor Do?

Taking on the role of a general contractor involves coordinating every moving aspect of the construction renovation. Most general contractors provide either blueprints or explicit directions to subcontractors who usually have specialized skills. Examples of subcontractors include:

  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Plumbers
  • Masons
  • Sheetrock Crews
  • Roofers
  • Painters

The contractor maintains a master set of plans and answers wide-reaching questions about how to overcome unanticipated obstacles. Experienced subcontractors run solutions by the general contractor because they understand critical next steps and how changes impact other facets of the project.

People in the house flipping industry routinely serve as general contractors. It allows them to track expenses such as material costs and keep the project moving along on time. On the other hand, it’s not unusual for one subcontractor to miss a deadline and disrupt the entire project’s timeline. In such cases, the entrepreneur/general contractor may have no choice but to strap on a tool belt.

When Does It Make Sense For General Contractors To Conduct Renovations?

The previous scenario highlights the fact that sometimes a need arises to get things done. But general contractors must also tread lightly. Stepping on a subcontractor's toes by completing a portion of their work can lead to financial disagreements. Sometimes workers feel like you’ve encroached on their territory. But because house-flipping general contractors don’t necessarily spend all day answering questions and resolving problems, there will be opportunities to take on work and lower labor costs.

For instance, most people with construction experience can take down a non-structural wall with a sledgehammer and Sawzall. Putting tasks on your plate that won’t delay subcontractors makes a certain degree of sense. You can also speed along the process by carrying materials or running out for coffee instead of sending one of the crew members.

These types of efforts also go a long way with subcontractors and crew members who recognize you’re a hard-working individual. That construction "credibility" alone is worth its weight in gold. However, the last thing a fix-and-flip professional wants to do is insert themselves out of necessity.

How To Avoid Doing Renovations Yourself

Nobility, necessity and saving money remain driving factors that prompt general contractors to wade into the fray. But that trails back to general contractors not having their ducks in a row. Subcontractors gravitate to two essential things: Highest paying jobs and consistent work.

House flippers who also serve as the general contractor would be wise to maintain a small orbit of quality subcontractors. Build relationships by providing consistently good-paying work and develop a family-like atmosphere. When subcontractors feel confident that you can keep them busy, they’ll prioritize your business. Then you won’t have to make renovations out of necessity.   

About the Author

Sally Hechter

Sally Hechter is a realtor with Cummings & Co. Realtors, specializing in Harford, Baltimore, and Cecil Counties, as well as Baltimore City. Attributinginvaluable traits like patience, integrity, and a diligent work ethic to her accomplished real estate career, Sally prides herself on the personalized service she provides her clients from start to finish. Known as a connector, Sally believes that real estate is all about the relationship, not the transaction. In 1995, Sally developed an interest for real estate while managing properties in which she personally invested. In 2006, she turned her personal hobby into a career by becoming a licensed real estate agent in Maryland. Since then, she has been an independent realtor and also worked for RE/MAX American Dream. Sally joined Cummings & Co. Realtors in 2017. With a background in education, Sally believes in the value of learning current market trends, evolving with the business and consistently polishing her real estate expertise. Her designations and certifications include: •ABR, Accredited Buyer Representative •SRS, Seller Representative Specialist •Executive Club, RE/MAX American Dream, 2014, 2015 •100% Club, RE/MAX American Dream, 2016 •Peak Producer, Buffini & Company, 2013 •CDPE, Certified Distressed Property Education, 2009 – present •Harford County Association of Realtors, 2006 – present •National Association of Realtors, 2006 – present As a passionate community leader, Sally is on the alumnae executive board atMercy High School. She is also a founding member of the core development team of the Spark Family Ministry, that creates opportunities for families to be involved in the Church of St. Mark in Fallston, MD. Sally is a graduate of Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in mass communications. Born and raised in Maryland, she has lived in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and currently resides in Harford County with her family. Sally enjoys doing anything outside, including kayaking, sailing, walking, and gardening.