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Working for a General Contractor

shji

Hi guys, I posted a question thread about construction salary previously and construction definitely is way up when it comes to money side. I am considering to a move to a GC but I am concerned whether my introverted personality would fit!

Architecture designers coordinate with client and contractors here and there but spend most of the time drafting, working alone or with the team mostly. In case of GC or CM, is majority of work contacting and coordinating with your team, sub contractors and clients? Is it a lot more tougher than working in a cozy architecture office? Do you have to be a people person in order to be successful in CM? What is a typical day of a GC project manager look like? What are the major day to day tasks? 

 
Feb 7, 18 8:10 pm
archinine
Ha I would not describe any GC I've worked with as a 'people person'. You'll be just fine. And don't forget to blame everything on the architect and charge for a change order!
Feb 7, 18 8:27 pm
jeffl

I haven't worked for a general contractor before so can't say much but it must be pain to work on the site all day during cold winter.

Feb 8, 18 9:38 am
arivas208

Here is my story. I started in architecture in 2006. Went to school for drafting and design and worked for an architect who did high end residential work and smaller commercial work. After the downturn I was let go in 2010. I immediately went back to school and got a BS in construction management. After I finished school in late 2013 I accepted an offer as a project engineer with a general contractor that did large scale commercial work. I worked there for a year and was let go by the company by because I voiced my opinion on needing more staff in the field. At this time I was still doing drafting/design work on the side and it was probably hurting my performance at my full time job. After losing this job, I quickly found another job with another big commercial contractor this time as a field superintendent. The salary was good but the hours were long. It was a very demanding job that required a lot of meetings and communication. It also required a strong personality in order to keep subcontractors performing. During my time at this company (around 2 years) I was still designing houses on the side, but I was exhausted. I was working 10-12 hour days and then coming home and drawing for another 3-4 hours. About 2 weeks ago this company let me go, they explained to me that I was not a good fit for the position. I am also a pretty introverted person and I knew I wasn't cutting it, so when they let me go I wasn't shocked. I was fortunate that I had some good clients working on my side design work. For the past 2 weeks I have been a full time contract designer. I mainly work on high end residential work, custom homes, multifamily and remodels. My point is, even though people say to reach for the stars, sometimes you need to focus on what you are good at. I was never good at construction management. My calling was always residential design and I am very good at it. Also, I am making more money right now as a full time contractor than I did at my previous job. Do what feels right to you. Don't listen to all these other negative people on here saying architecture/design is no good. They are bitter because they are failures and are probably in the wrong field like I was. Whatever you chose to do good luck!

Feb 8, 18 10:47 am
shji

arivas208, thanks for sharing! I am trying to switch out because I am one of those negative people who do not enjoy working in architectural design haha. I did guess that it might take some thick skin and assertiveness to be successful at construction management which I lack... well you confirmed it does. It's great that you found what's right for you tho. Good luck to you too with your design works!

whistler

Designers don't make very good general contractors! Typically we want to over design the solution and most contractors are working at the other end of the spectrum so you will constantly be fighting others in your work place and your own design ethos.  Very rarely do designers have the skill and experience to perform the role well.  Getting the job done on time and on budget means you are going to loose a few design battles.  If you can distinguish between which battles and the wars that are important to win then you might have a chance.

Alternatively doing more specialized work for interior work might be a more appropriate target market as high end interior fit outs require a higher degree of specialization and design sensibility, but only in higher quality work environments.

Rarely are designers good at working on a tight target budget that most folks would find acceptable i.e. lacquer coated plywood cabinets might be great for the latest Dwell magazine cover but most clients don't see this as  high quality design, it seems more appropriate for their garage.




Feb 8, 18 7:38 pm
shji

whistler, thanks for sharing. I agree that designers and contractor often work on two opposite sides of the table.

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