Four Benefits of Having a Self-Performing General Contractor

January 7, 2022


South End Zone Expansion project

Self-perform is a hot topic in the construction industry, but what is it exactly and why does it matter? When self-performing, the lead general contractor on a project completes certain construction activities, such as concrete, carpentry, or framing work, with its own skilled labor force.

Often, self-performing particular scopes of work can benefit a project. More importantly, self-perform capabilities add value for all clients.

Self-performing can serve projects in four distinct ways:

#1: Saving time

Self-perform contractors know how to do the work. This comprehensive understanding of tasks often completed by subcontractors results in time savings through:

  • Efficient scheduling—Trade-specific experience leads to creating accurate, efficient, dependable schedules.
  • Faster team coalition—Self-performing reduces the time required to complete subcontractor selection and onboarding.
  • Flexibility—If a subcontractor falls behind schedule and is unable to recover using alternative solutions, self-perform capabilities give the general contractor the last-resort option to supplement that subcontractor’s workforce with in-house skilled laborers to get the project back on track.
  • Motivation—Inherently, the lead contractor has a greater incentive for completing self-perform work on time and within budget than do subcontractors.
  • Control—Self-performing heightens the ability to manage the schedule by using internal forces to perform the work.

#2: Saving money

Self-performing generates a thorough knowledge of task-related labor necessities, material options and availability, and market fluctuations that affect both. During preconstruction, the lead contractor’s self-perform knowledge provides owners and architects with accurate budget information for their designs as well as viable material alternatives. Having worked with a variety of materials, the general contractor can recommend selections that will provide the best value for each project.

#3: Controlling quality

After years of building a talented team of craft workers, self-perform contractors have concrete finishers, carpenters, and millworkers at their fingertips. Self-perform crews that have worked together on project after project yield high quality products through efficient methods. When their own forces are responsible for work on site, the lead contractor can guarantee excellent quality as well as on-time, in-budget completion of those trades.

#4: Ensuring safety

When an experienced self-perform crew works on project sites, they follow and enforce the lead contractor’s safety standards, enhancing the safety focus already provided by an in-house safety department and individual project teams. Skilled laborers on site offer extra sets of trained eyes to watch for and correct risky behaviors.

To illustrate the impacts of self-perform capabilities, take for example our work on an end zone expansion project at a large football stadium. When a subcontractor went out of business during the fast-track project—which had to be completed in time for the 2010 football season—our self-perform capabilities enabled us to step in and complete the work the subcontractor was slated to do, allowing us to keep the project on schedule without sacrificing quality, safety, or budget.

Self-performing isn’t the right call for every project, but having a self-perform contractor on the team affords many options and added value. Even without self-performing on a project, having self-perform knowledge and experience improves the ability to assess subcontractors’ work and hold them accountable in terms of staffing, scheduling, estimating, and quality. With a high value for self-performing work, a general contractor is not simply a broker but offers its clients the expertise of a true builder on every project.