A general contractor, principal contractor or developmental contractor is in charge of the day-to-day supervision of a construction site, coordination of trades and vendors, and the dissemination of information throughout the entire course of an ongoing construction project. They are often called upon by other contractors and developers to oversee the completion of various phases of a project, as well. A general contractor’s duties depend upon the scope of the project. In some cases, the construction work will be a one-time project with few complex tasks; whereas in other situations, larger tasks will have to be completed repeatedly, in order to meet deadlines. General contractors often provide various types of construction materials and equipment, as well as employing other labor and material professionals to complete their work.
Generally, there are two kinds of contractors in the construction industry: true independent contractors and contract or subcontractor independent contractors. A true independent contractor is one who manages their own business affairs, contracts out specific work, and provides their own workers and equipment. Contractors such as these are usually self-employed individuals who possess additional training and are licensed by their state to perform specific work. Some states even require that these contractors have a business license and insurance coverage, as well as a business plan. True independent contractors have more control and autonomy than most general contractors. However, they generally do not have nearly the portfolio or client base that a general contractor has.
Many construction management agencies hire general contractors as a part of their overall construction management services. These services can include task and project management, budget and financial management, project coordination, and project administration. Other services offered by a general contractor may include soil testing, preliminary works, site preparation, engineering design and environmental analysis, paving and surface work, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and mechanical installation, and carpeting. A construction management agency may also hire general contractors to manage the overall construction project; however, construction managers will generally make the final decisions about what material to use and when, if any additional material is needed. The responsibility of the project manager is to organize the project, oversee its progress, manage expenses, perform required subcontractor services, and make final payments. Project managers may also delegate certain tasks to employees, but they are ultimately responsible for managing the construction project.
Generally construction managers are hired from a pool of applicants that have been screened to fill specific job requirements. These individuals typically have at least a four year degree in an area of construction or another, have experience managing larger projects, and have worked in various capacities with larger companies in the past. Many construction managers and general contractors choose to start off as project managers with smaller companies so that they can gain valuable experience while building their portfolio and reputation.
Some general contractors choose to hire subcontractors instead of general contractors. These are typically individuals who have some construction experience, but are unable to be considered a full time employee of the company, due to many factors including schooling, health issues, and other employment issues. As with hiring contractors, these individuals must be properly screened to ensure that there are no legal problems associated with them. Subcontractors are usually hired on a temporary basis, and when their contract expires, they may be able to move into a management role with the company.
One of the most important considerations when hiring a general contractor or a contractor for construction purposes, especially when working on larger projects, is licensing. There are many different states and provinces that have licensing requirements, so it is best to verify these requirements before beginning work. For example, some states require licensed contractors to be registered and certified with the construction state’s department of labor. Other licensing states do not require as much education or experience, but these states may require completion of special training courses in project management and safety.