Should you hire a general contractor or be your own project manager?

Building your own house is an ambitious project governed by many regulations, and requiring a great deal of time, effort and expertise. Whether you hire a general contractor, or oversee the work yourself, the first step will be acquiring a permit from City hall.

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work building your own house requires requires off-site, and it can be hazardous to venture into the world of construction if you’re a newcomer. Let’s be honest, the world of construction is a very particular one, with its own codes and unwritten rules that may take you by complete surprise if you’re coming from another industry. Therefore, you’re probably better off hiring a general contractor who can handle hiring subcontractors, and ensuring that everything meets the standards of the various construction governing bodies—of which there are many (CCQ, RBQ, CNESST).

Shop around for your contractor

Choosing the right contractor is crucial. Ideally, you want one who comes highly recommended, with an exemplary track record. Many companies have websites where you can see some of their accomplishments. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to contact former clients to get first-hand impressions. If that seems intrusive to you, remember; it’s your money and your peace of mind that are at stake. Furthermore, it’s now fairly easy to find client testimonials through websites and social media.

Be careful not to put your blind trust in a friend or acquaintance. Your colleague’s brother-in-law may have seemed like a great guy when you met him at the last office party, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a good contractor. Make sure he holds a valid licence from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, and it is also imperative that he be accredited by a guarantee plan.

Competition always works out in the client’s favour, so whatever you do, request more than one proposal. If a contractor knows he’s the only one in the running, he has no incentive to give you competitive prices.


By acting as your own project manager, you must first request the proper licensing from the RBQ, depending on your situation. Even if it can appear tedious, reading the “Act on Labour Relations, Vocational Training, and Manpower Management in the Construction Industry (Act R-20)” is highly recommended.

You can’t just start hiring people on a whim. To hire construction workers, you must register with the Commission de la construction du Québec, which will cost you $350 and require you to fulfill many requirements. Note that friends and family cannot carry out any tasks on the work site unless they are already registered workers with the CCQ.

Hiring trade contractors also means requesting proof that they hold a valid licence from the RBQ. You must also ensure your work site is compliant with CCQ regulations. To do so, your trade contractors should present you with a “situation letter” from the CCQ, which proves that the subcontractor meets all CCQ standards and requirements. Be vigilant, as refusing to comply with these conditions can result in lawsuits and work-site closure.

Mortgage Financing

To find out more about the necessary financing to build your new home, contact a Multi-Prêts advisor by filling out our simplified request form.

Keys takeaways

  • Before taking any first steps, consult your municipality and other organizations such as the CCQ and RBQ to know your obligations.
  • Non-compliance with requirements can bring about disastrous consequences such as lawsuits and work-site closures.
  • Make sure the people you hire are in good standing.