The construction company becomes sartorial

Those who built their home will probably remember months, sometimes years, spent meeting designers, craftsmen and a myriad of subjects with which that person has to bargain, agree and then verify that your wishes are realized. In addition to those, multiple phone calls to offices, email exchanges and piles of paperwork. During those months that person will have wasted hours of time, lived anxieties and maybe in the end you will have forgotten, at a high price, some essential detail. Because it’s one thing to see the building plan, it’s another to live it. But what if that person had only one interlocutor with whom to fix features, times, methods and costs of the new building and then receive its turnkey? What if that person could get into a 3D simulation to see if it was designed to his needs? That person would certainly have told us today that such a service would certainly have been chosen by them. 

This service exists and is called ‘general contractor’, but what does it offer? We asked Jan Cereghetti, director of Galli General Contractor, about this.


Cereghetti, what gave rise to the idea of a General Contractor company?

“I tell you a personal experience that I think is well exemplified. About 11 years ago I built my own house. I thought of everything: I am an engineer and so I made calculations, design and works management. I contracted the various estimates with the different suppliers, I coordinated them, I chose the materials, and so on. I think I lost ten years of my life! If there was someone who did it for me, I’d be willing to pay for that service. Building a house by yourself, without experience, can reserve many surprises and not those that are beautiful.” 


So in 2020 the idea became reality...

“Yes, with Andrea Galli and Gianluca Spaini, strong with our experience and knowledge in the field, we have created the Galli General Contractor. Being part of a group that goes from real estate to consulting on the house, through engineering, makes us able to actually offer a turnkey result. In practice, our company sells a service in the field of construction, developing tailor-made solutions, made to measure, for every type of ecomomic possibilities.” 


Who needs a general contractor?

“We can divide the customers into 3 main categories. The first is that of the pure investor. For example, we were asked by those who wanted to make a real estate investment that could guarantee a predefined return. He gave us the budget and we signed a contract in which we guaranteed the result within a certain time. We took care of everything from: finding the land, ap-plying for the building permit, planning, construction management, to choosing suppliers and materials. 


The investor only had us as contact persons. In addition, thanks to the collaboration with Galli Immobiliare, we were able to deliver the property already completely rented. In this case we are talking about Total Contractor, as we were responsible for both the design and the construction. 


What’s the second category?

“It is an investor who already has his project, usually it is at the level of construction demand, sometimes he already has a building license. Contact us to achieve it with a specific budget. We take care to reach your goal. This can involve changes and optimizations to get what the investor wants. In any case we take care of it!”


The third category?

“In this category there is no initial customer. The real estate promotion is internal. We identify the land, carry out the project and build the building. Then we place it on the market. We are in this case real estate developers.”


In all cases, however, do you bear the business risk?

“Yes, if, for example, the cost of wood or metal increases, the client doesn’t care, it’s us who have to find solutions to meet the budget and we do this while guaranteeing quality, price, timing and safety.”


Is the investor willing to pay for this extra service?

“Absolutely, because in reality the final price of the product that the customer goes to buy does not change. This is achieved by deploying experience to find solutions that are high in quality but simple at the same time. In addition, the economy of scale in the selection of trusted craftsmen and the speed of design and execution of the work means that we do not waste time. After all, we all know that time is money and we play on that. Whoever invests in this type of solution probably spends even less in the end, considering all the indirect costs linked to the business risk that each individual investor is called upon to take on in the case of the classic procedure.”


As you take the business risk, do you have to be very careful in defin-ing what the client wants?

“Yes, the first meeting is crucial. Once the customer’s wishes and needs have been clarified, we can use our experience to find the best solution. The customer doesn’t care where the main switchboard will be; the im-portant thing is that when he flips the switch he turns on the lights to create the desired effect. We use 3D technology for this.”


What do you mean?

“Our projects are developed in BIM system, a software that allows you to show the floor plan of a house and the different floors in three sizes. You en-ter the building, you move around and you understand the layout of the interior walls, windows, accessories etc.”


How can customers see that?

“When we meet them, we see the simulation render together and comment on it. They can still see it at home quietly. Thanks to a free app like Bimx you can view our projects in 3D on a tablet or smartphone. That’s the only way to really understand what the building’s gonna look like.”


Where are you currently engaged?

“We have a construiction in site in Gentilino, a wooden building of 3 apartments. Then in Tenero-Contra we are building 5 apartments, while a building site for two small buildings, for a total of 12 apartments, is open in Roveredo in Italian Grisons. Finally, we have already started with a real estate promotion of ours in Sementina: Residenza Wilma.” 

Is there competition in your sector?

“Certainly there are many players in the construction industry, but at the lo-cal level we position ourselves in a range of investment that starts from 0.5 million CHF up to 10 million CHF. It is often considered an uninteresting interval by large companies, which for matters of economy of scale prefer to concentrate on large institutional or public investments above ten million Francs. Our competitors are often classic construction firms or craftsmen who promote general enterprise. On the other hand, our advantage is that we have no workers but only a technical office and just like the large total companies, we have more freedom in choosing the technical solutions and materials to be used.” 


Is it a choice or a necessity to offer a service rather than just one tech-nical service?

“I think it will be a trend that will be increasingly popular because laws, regu-lations, rules and bureaucracy in general are increasingly difficult to manage. Even the administrative field requires more and more professionalism and is a service sought after by private customers. Unlike public or institutional investors, private individuals do not have consultants for every subject. We, on the other hand, in the field of construction we can provide complete advice.”


How will the market evolve?

“Having a real estate company in our group gives us the possibility of a privi-leged observatory at the local level of the main trends. Certainly the pan-demic has seen an increase in the demand for houses or cottages with an outdoor space, a piece of garden. That is why some of the next projects will be in this direction. We would like to offer something more than the usual terraced house, with some solutions, both aesthetic, functional and of great-er value. In any case, besides the result it is important how you get there and the choice of a General Contractor, if there are solid financial guarantees, guarantees a risk-free road.” 


Will it be built more with the brain than with the arms?

“The field of construction has always been rather conservative and manual work will always be necessary on construction sites. Artificial intelligence will replace or reduce the intervention of many figures who today work on the project and in the pipeline. Automation, prefabrication, integrated design, automated numerical calculation will reduce time and simplify operations. What will still be necessary, however, is a figure who assumes the risk, directs the project and completes the operation, in particular by managing all the interfaces with people and the bureaucracy generated by authorization and regulatory processes. So we will need people who combine the heart, the passion, the courage and the responsibility, with the brain, that is, to create the overall vision.”


Cereghetti must have learned this over the years from footballers in the changing room: if you want a winning team, choose a good coach. Only in this way can so many individualities be able to give the maximum to realize a common project. The General Contractor is now the fundamental building coach.


Jan Cereghetti
Year of birth: 1978
Profession: director Galli General Contractor

After a successful career in sports: football and skiing, he began his studies as a physiotherapist. In the end, however, his passion for construction, inherited from his father and grandfather, was too strong to ignore. He became a civil engineer and since 2004 he has been working in an important engineering firm. In 2020, he decided with Andrea Galli and Gianluca Spaini to set up Galli General Contractor Ltd.