What is the difference between a General Contractor and a Subcontractor?

A General Contractor is an individual or company that oversees and manages a construction project.  They are responsible for planning, organizing and executing the project to ensure it runs smoothly.  This includes supplying labour, materials and the subcontractors required to complete the project, as well as assisting the client with the design process and working with municipalities, architects, designers and engineers. 

Subcontractors (often referred to as subtrades) are the specialized tradespeople who generally supply and install the materials for their trade.  Examples of subcontractors would be roofers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC specialists, insulators, drywallers, cabinetmakers, painters, stonemasons and floor layers.

Why should I hire a General Contractor?

Barnes Custom Homes has served as the General Contractor on literally hundreds of projects over the 30 plus years of being in business.  In that time, we have learned how to accurately estimate and efficiently run projects, work effectively with our employees, suppliers and subcontractors and communicate clearly with our customers.  In addition, we have qualified for cost savings that we are able to pass on to you.

Although the following independent link is specifically talking about the benefits of hiring a General Contractor for home renovation projects, the points apply just as much to the construction of custom homes. 


What experience do you have building custom homes?

Craig has been working in the residential construction industry since 1982.  He started as a labourer, but quickly developed the skills to become a framer and obtained his Red Seal journeyman carpenter designation in 1996.  During this period, he worked on everything from multi-unit projects to new homes to fire restorations, developing the skills and knowledge required to become a custom home builder.   Craig established his own residential construction business in 2002.  From that point on, our focus has been on custom homes and major additions and renovations in the Cowichan Valley.  Our custom home projects have ranged from traditionally framed to post and beam to timber framed.  Barnes Custom Homes is a registered builder in good standing with BC Housing.

What experience do you have with additions and renovations?

We have over 35 years of experience with additions and renovations, primarily in residential construction.  Our renovation projects have ranged from minor renovations to total home renovations and have included major repair work to re-support older homes.  Our addition projects have become more complex over the years and have included additions which have more than doubled the size of a home and others that have added a second story to a home.  We are confident we have the skills required to take on any addition or renovation project you may have.

What is the average cost per square foot to build a custom home?

This is such a difficult question to answer because there are so many factors that go into determining the cost per square foot and the calculation is not standard from builder to builder.  For instance, if you were to build the same house on an already serviced building lot vs an undeveloped, treed building lot with no services, your total project costs would be much higher on the undeveloped property.  The cost of the custom home itself will vary depending on the challenges of the building site, the complexity of the structure, the number of bathrooms and plumbing fixtures, the type of heating/cooling system used, the size of the kitchen and the quality of the finishes selected throughout the home.  When comparing prices provided by different builders, you need to ensure you are looking at numbers that are actually comparable.  We encourage you to contact us directly to discuss the costs specific to your project.

The following independent link was written by an architect and addresses the problem with using the cost/sqft method to estimate the cost of your project.  The article was written in 2013, but the points covered in the article are still applicable today.


How do you price your projects?

For initial discussions, we will provide a very rough estimate of project costs.  After the client has made a decision to work with us, we prepare a detailed working budget from the build-ready plans.  This is a time-consuming process that involves getting estimates from subcontractors, doing material takeoffs to price the materials that will be used to build the home and doing detailed labour estimates for each phase of the build.  The final working budget will be calculated by adding together all of the above-mentioned components plus a markup for overhead and profit.  We do not offer fixed price contracts with the exception of some smaller projects.

Do you provide in-house design services?

We are not a design/build company since this would increase our overhead costs which we would need to recover from our customers.  Instead, we have developed excellent working relationships with designers and architects who we have worked closely with in the past.  We would be happy to refer you to one of these professionals.

Have other questions?

If you have other questions, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you directly and discuss your upcoming project.  You can complete the contact form or call us at 778-356-1653.

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