The Rule of 10,000


In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” he explains that to be good at anything, you have to put in at least 10,000 hours doing it. Outliers

Seasoned general contractors (GCs) know this to be true. During the course of their careers, GCs typically put in many years of 12-hour days learning their craft. You’ll find that most GCs have at least a few gray hairs to show for all this hard work. I call these pros “silverbacks,” which is also the nickname for the leaders in bands of gorillas.

It’s important for you, the homeowner, to know that an experienced construction pro is going to be able to manage your project better than the younger average Joe. They are also going to do a much better job than you, should you be tempted into thinking that taking on their role on a project would be fun or economical.

How so? The experienced GC is skilled in anticipating and heading off problems before they occur. Some problems relate to seasonal issues, and others relate to understanding the timing of product shipments. He or she is also experienced with keeping the job on schedule and on budget. After all, anything that negatively affects the schedule will cause increased costs to you.

Another skill a GC brings to the table is selecting the right pro for each project. A construction project, like a high-end addition, is going to need a different set of roofing skills than a row house replacement job. Likewise, a perfectionist carpenter might be just right for installing that custom Birdseye Maple trim costing $30 per lineal foot, but that’s not the carpenter to put on a flip house or for framing and closing a roof as the rain starts. A GC knows the difference and has trusted contacts that possess those different skill sets.

Issues of access to the work site also come into play on each job. You can only get one or two people in a bathroom during a remodel. You need many more people on site for an addition frame up. Where will the dumpster and supplies go? How about the homeowners? Maybe they need to move out until the project is complete. Again, a professional GC has experience in these issues and can handle them seamlessly.

So you can see, hiring a GC with some gray hair and a very full Rolodex is probably a smart idea. You want the pros you hire for your project to have their 10,000 hours in. Ask them if they do before you sign a contract or hand over any money.