Posted on April 18, 2017 by Heritage

So you’ve decided to purchase a steel building directly from the manufacturer. Congratulations! You have saved yourself a good amount of money by avoiding the middleman and his markup fee on the cost of your building kit. But you’re no construction worker, so… how do you get this thing built?

You’ve got a couple options: You can hire a General Contractor (GC), or you can act as your own GC, hiring and managing all the sub-contractors. Your choice will be dependent on your knowledge of building construction and the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into the project vs. the convenience of paying someone else with the expertise and connections to manage it for you. You may even be able to participate in some of the building erection yourself.

Hire a GC – Set it and Forget It!

A GC is going to source, hire, manage and be liable for all sub-contractors and their work. They will have a pool of people who have different skillsets from which they can choose. A GC will source and hire specialists to work on the different stages of installation. These people can be foundation engineers, framers/erectors, finishers, electricians, plumbers, etc. The need for these different specialties will of course depend on the end-use of your building project and the complexity.

Pros of Hiring a General Contractor:

Convenience: You will have to invest minimal time and effort in the management of your project. The GC can take care of everything for you, from receiving and offloading the building when it’s delivered, to making sure the site is cleaned up and everything is hauled away once the installation process is complete.

Expertise: You can trust a good contractor to know things you wouldn’t, based on their experience in the industry – someone who can be proactive will help the construction process move along more smoothly, with less chance for costly and project-stalling errors.

Contacts: A seasoned GC is going to have a lot of experience with different sub-contractors, and may even have their own personal crew of trusted installers. At the very least, they will know who in the local area does a good job, and who to stay away from. They will likely have other GC contacts that they can get honest and reliable recommendations from if they need to source a sub-contractor for a specific task and don’t know someone offhand who is readily available.

Decreased Time Commitment: You can check in with your GC as often as you would like to monitor progress, but you will not be required to spend an exorbitant amount of time handling the project once you have hired a GC. Some buildings can be erected in a few days; larger and more complex ones can take several weeks. A GC can be hired for any project, no matter how large or small, but the larger the steel building, the more likely it will become a full-time job managing the installation and finishing process. Complex jobs are better managed by someone with the time and know-how to do so.

No Need to Procure Equipment: At the very least, a forklift is required for offloading materials when your building kit is delivered. You may need a small crane to set the rafters, or a scissor lift to install the purlins. GCs have access to this kind of equipment more readily than a layperson.

Act As Your Own GC – Don’t Pay Someone to Do Something If You Can Do It Yourself

Pros of Acting as Your Own General Contractor:

Money Savings: By sourcing sub-contractors and managing the project yourself, you will save the cost of hiring a GC to do it for you. This is a great option for someone with experience in the industry or who happens to have a good list of contractor contacts, but it is not for everyone. Many people choose to circumvent a GC or broker in the purchase of the actual steel building kit to avoid the added cost of having someone else complete that task for you, but still hire a third party to take over once they complete the design and purchase phase.

As you may have already guessed, each of the pros are the cons for the opposing choice, but one of these two options should be a good fit for anyone in the market to have their new steel building constructed. Some people want to be as closely involved with their project as possible so they can know it was done right, or to save money. And some at the other end of the spectrum don’t even want to see their building until it’s ready to be used. Figure out whatever works best for you, and go with it!


No matter what your choice for your project, always do independent research on your chosen contractor(s):

  • Ask for and speak to multiple references
  • Request to see job sites they have worked on previously
  • Search for their company or first and last name online
  • Request to see licenses, and make sure they are current
  • Ask what certifications or accreditations they have, and for proof
  • Have someone knowledgeable review any contracts you sign
  • Set an explicit budget and timeframe for the project with measurable benchmarks, and include it in the contract