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Looking for a General Contractor, Chicago - What Do They Really Do?

General contractors are a vital part of the construction process, overseeing entire projects from inception to move-in day. With such a vital role it’s important to understand how they work, what they do, and most importantly, how to find the best one for you. At Fortress Home we make the construction process as straightforward as possible. We are experienced and reputable general contractors who have been operating in Chicago for over 20 years and know the construction industry in this city like the back of our hands. We produce high-quality buildings, both residential and commercial, that are built to last. Custom home builders have an in-house team of designers and architects.

What is a general contractor?

So you're looking to remodel your home, restore an old house, or maybe even build a new home. Maybe you have an idea that you'll need a prime contractor or general contractor. But you're not quite sure what they do, or why you might need one. The construction industry is large and can be complex.

We all know that plumbers do plumbing and carpenters do carpentry, but what is a general contractor?

A licenced general contractor will look after construction projects for you, from the first ideas all the way until the completed projects.


They will oversee everything on your building site and hire any subcontractors that are needed for the project. They will be your main point of contact for anything to do with the project and your contract will be with them, not any of the subcontractors they choose to work with.

At Fortress Home we have a team of skilled workers and craftspeople so we don't need to rely on subcontractors as much. This gives us better control over both the budget and timescales of the project. Plus we trust our team to always provide the highest quality work.

What's that about licenses?

We mention licences as it's vital that anyone you work with is fully licensed, so you, the property owner, are not liable for any accidents or workplace injuries. The licensing requirements include being fully insured, which is vital for any sort of construction project.

At Fortress Home we are a fully licensed general contractor, Chicago and are proud of the work that we do as high-quality general contractors.

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What does a general contractor do?

General contractors will oversee the entire process of new construction or remodeling including:

  • Working with architects to put together plans and blueprints
  • Ensuring that building and licensing requirements are met
  • Obtaining all relevant permits
  • Hiring subcontractors
  • Managing all workers on site
  • Purchasing materials
  • Managing the budget
  • Ensuring the project is completed on time

All of this means that you, the property owner, can relax and enjoy seeing your new house be built, or your remodeled master bath appear before your eyes, with no stress and no fuss.


How to find a general contractor near me?

While you might be tempted to work with top general contractors in the US or major national construction companies we recommend working with a reputable and experienced City of Chicago general contractor, like Fortress Home, as they will have all the relevant local and city knowledge, networks and contacts to ensure your project is completed to the high standard you expect.

If you're looking for professional contractors here are some ways to find them:

  • Ask your local homeowners association for recommendations.
  • Neighbors and friends may have suggestions of companies they've worked with.
  • If there are any developments in your area you particularly like, find out who built them.
  • Local realtors may be able to recommend reputable contractors.

When you get a shortlist of contractors here are a few questions you can ask:

  1. Can you see proof of licensing and insurance?
  2. How long have they been in business? (over 5 years is usually a good rule of thumb)
  3. Have they got any customer references?
  4. Are they experienced in the type of construction you're looking for?

Recommended reading

We're an independent and fully licensed contractor based in Chicago, IL.
We think like developers and act like a general contractor.
Fortress Home is a full-service general contractor specializing in commercial and residential construction.
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Frequently asked questions

Is it worth hiring a general contractor?

Unless you're undertaking small home improvement projects that only require minimal work, for example remodeling a dining room, where you only need a decorator and carpenter, we think it's best to work with a general contractor. Especially when it comes to major projects the expertise, contacts, and years and years of experience that comes with hiring an experienced company, are well worth any additional costs.

What is the difference between a contractor and a general contractor?

A general contractor will take on a contract overseeing an entire project. They will be responsible for all other contractors, or subcontractors on the job.

Contractors usually have a more specialized area of expertise, for example, electricians, masons, or plumbers.

How much does a general contractor cost?

A general contractor's fee is usually a percentage of the total project, generally ranging from 10-20%. You might be able to negotiate an hourly rate but this usually requires a guaranteed minimum number of hours.

As the general contractor is also responsible for paying all other workers and buying all materials, the entire project fee will be paid to them, usually in stages throughout the construction.


Typically you will set up a payment plan for the complete project.

Is a general contractor worth it?

Unless you have experience in construction, project management, and a lot of free time it is almost always worth it to hire a good general contractor. Their network of contacts, agreements, and discounts with materials suppliers, and efficiency and expertise in managing a major project all make it very worthwhile to hire a general contractor. In fact, it could save you money in the long run, as well as a lot of stress and sleepless nights.

In addition, if you need to take out a loan to complete your project, it will be much easier to obtain a loan from your bank if you have a reputable, licensed general contractor on board.

Fortress Home - top general contractor, Chicago

Fortress Home has been a Chicago, IL, general contractor for over 20 years. As a family-run business, we are part of the city of Chicago and are proud to help its residents and businesses develop new homes and commercial properties.

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FORTRESS HOME

Fortress Home combines the roles of a general contractor, a construction partner, and a construction manager. Our talented workforce helps us professionally manage all aspects of on-site construction.

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