If you’re starting out in the construction, one of the key things you should know about is the difference between an owner/contractor and a contractor/consultant. A contractor is someone who handles the major decisions in a construction project. They’ll often be able to guide you towards what works best for your construction needs and recommend the best ways to get there. On the other hand, a consultant is someone who provides cost estimates, guidance, information about regulations, as well as any advice they can provide on the scope of the job at hand.
You may have heard the phrase “consultant vs. owner” several times before, but it’s still quite useful. Construction project management usually includes complex tasks which can change wildly, depending upon the project at hand, and it takes certain strong interpersonal skills in negotiation, the ability to problem solver, and the knack to empathize. The thing is, there are consultants and there are owners. Here are some of the common differences between these two key figures in construction:
Owner / contractors don’t need licenses. Contractors do need licenses, however. In fact, in some states (depending on where you live), construction consultants are required to get special training in state agencies before being granted a contractor’s license. Most of these licenses are renewed periodically, meaning it’s important that construction consultants keep them up to date with the latest standards. For instance, in Florida, consultants are required to pass a comprehensive ethics and professionalism examination every three years, meaning that if you’re a contractor in the Sunshine State, you’ll have to stay abreast of the latest industry developments.
Contractors tend to hire in-house specialists who are highly skilled and knowledgeable about their field. Construction companies prefer to hire independent contractors, or individuals who have already been trained by the company to perform specific jobs. In addition to saving money, construction companies are also more likely to hire individuals who are committed to fulfilling all of their obligations to them, whether that means completing work on time or making sure that the site is done right. Additionally, construction companies often find that independent contractors, as opposed to in-house specialists, are more motivated to follow through on their promises. This means that projects run more efficiently, as workers are less likely to lose their focus or slip up.
A consultant has the potential to be a more flexible, hands-on manager. A consultant might be able to assign tasks according to one’s availability, instead of waiting for a contractor to free up some time to do so. Additionally, consultants can help keep projects on track and on budget, because they can help schedule a time to ensure that everything is done according to schedule. One thing that said Engelbrecht did not like about contractors was that they were hesitant to delegate.
On the flip side, contractors have a lot of flexibility. Because contractors are typically the ones building the property, they have the ability to decide how everything should be built. However, contractors must also make their own decisions about pricing, scheduling and other important aspects of the job. For this reason, hiring a consultant can benefit everyone. Engelbrecht said that he likes to send his consultants to meetings, as it allows him to get input from everyone involved.