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hi im 17 years old and interested in bcoming something along the lines of a general contractor. ( i believe) what i'd really like to do is build houses and/or buildings for people or companies. but i wanted to do it in the manner of... me being my own business owner and employ people to go w/me project to project instead of finding projects an dhiring different people to do them each time. also i wouldnt be too interested in doing small repairs etc. (butwould be willing) but what i mainly want to do is go job to job with the same 10-15 people and do it ourselves. (kind of like a team?) is this possible?? i pretty much want to start my own business. (by the way: once you answer these Q's i have a few more) thanks and hope the was clear enough. :)
 

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My suggestion is to get your hands dirty WHILE you study some college courses in business AND construction management. Work for someone, perhaps two or three companies so you can see multiple perspectives on doing things before you go out on yoru own. Get AT least 5 years under your belt.
 

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Hey it is great to have a goal . Make sure you stick to your gameplan . I've done some pretty decent size commercial jobs over the years . The ones I've come out on top of were the ones I did plenty of homework on. Never under bid a job or take shortcuts . Those practices can lead you down one way road!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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I know a Civil Engineer who is in construction who wished he took Business instead.

It's business.
 

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To answer your question is it possible to have 10-15 people who are able to work on building houses with you full time?

Yes it is possible, but it isn't too probable, especially at 17 unless you have a huge trust fund coming due.

Do an internet search for "lead carpenter system" to see how the building trades have changed in regard to companies building houses.

Getting 2-3 people to work full time for you to build houses might be more realistic, however even this could take quite a while to get to.

The best thing you can do when you are young is learn on other people's money. Go get a job on a residential construction crew building houses as soon as you can and learn everything you can. That will only be one side of it, the least important really. There is then still the business side, not only will you need to know how to run a business (which is a career in itself) but also you will need to learn about things related to development, such as zoning, land development, loans, working with engineers and architects, how to find land, how to divide it and lots and lots more.

It's an ambitous plan and in 10 years if you get there, your reality probably won't look anything like what you thought it would today.

Every 1000 mile journey starts with one first step...

...along that journey you might stray now and then, like you might do some repair jobs that you don't want to do, but all you have to do is keep your goals in mind and try to see how everything, even stuff you don't like or want to do might apply down the road or help you along the way. But the most important thing to do, even when you are shagging bundles of shingles up a 40 foot ladder in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity for $8.00 an hour is to believe that this is an important thing to learn, later I will know the proper way that someone should shag shingles! Everything you do will come in handy later, so do everything to the best of your abilities and it will all pay off.
 

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Mike Finley said:
even when you are shagging bundles of shingles up a 40 foot ladder in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity for $8.00 an hour is to believe that this is an important thing to learn, later I will know the proper way that someone should shag shingles!
Man Mike, you just described the first roofing job I was ever on, except it was a 32' ladder. Now 7 years later I am running the show.

I feel it's important to get your hands dirty so you know what is and isn't realistic. This is especially important if you are doing any sort of sales or scheduling. I have had bosses in the past who took business classes and didn't know much about the trade behind the business they were running. They got some funny looks sometimes, and weren't as well respected as they would have been if they had a history of once having dirt under their fingers.

I have said it before and I will say it again, if I never touch a tool again, I will be happy. It's going to be a cold day in hell before that happens. From time to time you have to be able to pick up that hammer and show the guys what's what. For example the guys were bitching about a tear off once and joked about "you should grab a pitch fork" So I quietely went down the ladder put on my gloves and climbed back up and began tearing off in my polo and khakis.

Also you have to be able to do the things that nobody wants to do or you have nobody to do. From time to time we get short handed and I need to lend my hands to the job to keep it on budget or schedule. It would suck if I had no hands on knolwedge because then the only alternative is allowing the job to go over budget/schedule. Once I sold an 11 story scupper repair and couldn't find anyone to do it for me. Guess who did it? Ahh my balls dropped a few more inches that day.

I know by now I am just rambling but I've been driving all day and feel like typing. It is ultimately my goal to be a floater within my company. I'd like to have people filling every position and me just doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Lead volume high? I'll help with sales. New guy is sick? I'll help with the tear off. Backlog on filing/typing/administrative work? Show me the file cabinet! Short a few bundles of shingles? I'll get it. I guess you can say, all I want to be is the oil in my very own money machine.
 

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There is no reason to have 15 employees unless you are a doing a ton of new homes a year. When you get more experience you will see how much work can get done with 1 or 2 employees. I used to work for a contractor. He'd do about 2 million a year is gross sales. I was his only employee, everyone else was a sub.

Matt
 

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Grumpy said:
I know by now I am just rambling but I've been driving all day and feel like typing. It is ultimately my goal to be a floater within my company. I'd like to have people filling every position and me just doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Lead volume high? I'll help with sales. New guy is sick? I'll help with the tear off. Backlog on filing/typing/administrative work? Show me the file cabinet! Short a few bundles of shingles? I'll get it. I guess you can say, all I want to be is the oil in my very own money machine.
I understand the mentality of those thoughts, however I would warn you against them, and contemplate the underlaying issues associated with ever having to step in and help out.

You would be better served and your company better served to be the CEO, the captain at the helm who sets the broad policy, procedures and rights the course of the ship when it deviates now and again, rather than being somebody who has to get his hands into everything all the time in the guise of helping out where needed. If you hire the right people and most importantly train them correctly, you should never have to "help" out, get your machine so well run by the right people that it doesn't lose any oil so it never needs to be oiled. Get it to the point that you can disappear for 3 weeks without anybody realizing you are gone and you are really onto something.
 

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That would mean Grumpy would have to hire a replacement, and he isn't ready to do that by my reading of his great posts. I like his style, I've ruined good clothes too, and happy about it. My post about business was meant in conjunction with the hands-on sweaty good advice from both Grumpy, Mike and others.

I failed at my own business because I did it without a bankroll. To compensate, I tried to wear all of the hats. I did the sales, estimating, negotiating, supervision, money-chasing, payroll and accounting. Impossible and stupid. It took me two years to realize I was broke.

I studied all of the information I could on starting and running a business, but I refused to see the realities of what it really takes because "the bug" had me bit. I was stupid, and I admit it because if doing so wakes one person up to reality, then it was worth it. Besides that, the experience was valuable because I gained a newfound appreciation for my employer who is taking the risks.

mourning wood, these are successful guys giving good advice and don't be discouraged. Like they said, keep your eyes on the prize while you gain experience and knowledge from work and education. While you work and/or go to school, observe the operations of contractors. Don't do it in a negative way. If you have a complaint, think about what you would do to make improvements. Put yourself in your bosses' shoes, it's educational.

It takes longer for a traffic light to turn green when you are in a hurry.

:Thumbs:
 

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I started with my Uncle (a master carpenter & master woodworker) at the age of 10. As a 10 y.o. all I wanted to do was "frame" something. I thought that framig (building) was the ultimate thing to be able to know how to do. My Uncle had different plans for me. He said;

"You will learn finish carpentry first, then we'll move on to framing."

His philosophy behind that statement was;

"Knowing how to be a top notch finish carpenter first will make you that much better of a framing carpenter"

He was right! After learning finish carpentry (3 summer apprenticeship,) framing (2 summer apprenticeship,) I moved on to woodworking. Building staricases, custom cabinetry, custom moulding & millwork, custom railing & ballusters, etc. (5 year apprenticeship.)

At the time while I was apprenticing with him I thought to myself, "I'll never use all of this I'm learning, so why am I?" Well, now I'm glad he did teach all that he did and the way he did. To this very day I think to myself, "I wouldn't be able to do what I do if it hadn't been for him (my Uncle) teaching me what he did."

Knowing construction helped me in high school too. The distirct has a "career center." Ther was an availalbe building trades program, which was only for juniors and seniors, but since I had as much knowledge in the trades as I did, my principal, district administrator, and building trades teacher allowed me to join the class as a freshman. I spent 6 of my 8 semesters in the building trades program. It was an invaluable learning tool.

Basically what I am saying is, find a contractor, get a job with that company and become a sponge. Learn all that you can. After about 2-3 years move on to another construction co. Learn from them for about 2-3 years. At that point you will be better informed as to whether you really want to go into business for yourself or continue to work for someone.

Believe me, now-a-days it's not as easy for someone to get into the trades (running their own company that is.)

Insurance companies are more hesitant to write liability policies and if you don't have operating funds (enough to sustain you for at least 4 years) you will have a hard getting building material suppliers to "front" you the amount of materials you need to build a house.

And you better have EXCELLENT credit to get started in business!!
 

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Good stuff. Also measure your low wages against oppotunities to learn, which has a value. The ironic thing about young folk who misunderstand this concept is that learning is your own responsibility. In fact, you may be able to learn more from someone who does everything wrong. Point is, it's up to you.

Since "good luck" is unreliable, I wish you knowledge and experience instead.
 
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