When working with a designer and a general contractor, it is important that they work well together. How does an owner ensure this if the pair have never worked together before?
I LOVE General Contractors. I have many that I work with happily and truly enjoy every interaction. I can name at least three that I talk to regularly just to catch up and talk about work. Most contractors I work very well with and am very impressed by their knowledge, experience, and professionalism.
That said, there are red flags for contractors when you are intending to work with a designer and a general contractor.
Ask your GC how they feel about working with a designer. The general contractor MUST respect the designer and feel fortunate to be working with a designer. They should not mention that they can do the same work that a designer does. A contractor is not a designer and vice versa. There are skills that overlap, but there absoutely needs to be a mutual respect.
Know the roles, and ensure that they do too. The GC is employed by the owner, not the designer (unless the designer is a General Contractor and specifies this). This means that the designer should not be receiving bills from the GC. This also means that the designer is not liable or responsible for the work of the GC. If there is any question here, it is a red flag that the GC has not worked with a designer.
Check their background. If they say they’ve been operating their business for 20 years, verify this. Make sure that they are licensed and bonded. Make sure they have worked with designers in the past.
Do they advertise design services? Back up to #2, if they advertise themselves as a designer and take over the design role, there is likely going to be conflict. A contractor should support a designer and vice versa. This is a tricky one, because I work with a few contractors who advertise design services and I am their design services (though, I gotta be honest, I don’t advertise general contracting and refer to them for the services…)
Now go meet with a contractor who will be on your designer’s team (like this guy- in the photo below)!