Direct labour vs main contractor
Unless you have direct experience at employing trades people and have the time and skills to manage a site directly then you should think carefully before setting off down the direct labour route. Whilst you will not be paying a contractor’s profit (typically 10 per cent) it can often be a false economy going the direct labour route.
For example, you will be taking full responsibility for the project both on site and off site should anything go wrong whereas with a main contractor you have someone to go to get problems fixed. This is especially relevant where sub-standard work has been carried out but which only comes to light sometime later. Don’t underestimate the site management and Health & Safety requirements which can be significant. Everyone from your mortgage provided to the authorities will expect you to treat the build in a professional manner.
Builders are experienced (if not experts) in their field and you will be thankful for their knowledge and experience. You cannot assume that you can learn all there is to know in the space of time before you start your project: it is inevitable that you will make mistakes, that your build will progress more slowly, that the scheduling of works and co-ordination of trades will be relatively poor by comparison and that this will all cost you time and money.
How much depends on how well you can learn on the job. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish – be brutally honest and realistic about your abilities before you take the plunge to go direct labour. Time is usually the big factor. If you have a full-time job which prevents you from being on site when work is being done, then it is inevitable that some things will be overlooked.