A construction project is not a simple task. It involves the hard work and effort of several people specializing in different tasks. A construction project needs architects, engineers, construction workers, unskilled laborer etc… to do a proper job and complete the project successfully. It needs someone to overlook the daily work in the construction site. It also needs someone to coordinate laborers and materials to make sure there is no disruption on the day’s work. All these jobs are done by a general contractor.
So who exactly is a general contractor?
A general contractor is also called a main contractor or a prime contractor. He is usually recommended by the site engineer or the architect who is responsible for the project. The general contractor is responsible for making sure all the work in the construction site happens according to the plan. He also makes sure that the laborers do their job and that the materials are being delivered to the construction site. The general contractor acts as the construction manager and sometimes even as the building designer and foreman.
What does a general contractor do?
A general contractor assesses all the documents related to the project. These documents include the bid, the proposal of the project, the tender for it and any other documents related to the project. He might even need to visit the site to assess the place. This is especially important when the general contractor is required to do renovation works. This analysis gives him a better understanding of the project, all the works that need to be done, and the approximate fund required to complete the project.
After assessing every detail about the project, the general contractor would give the client an estimate of the money required, a fixed price, or a bid based on the way the project is to be delivered. The general contractor analyses every single thing that might cost money to complete the project. The general contractor will take into account the cost of running the home office, the money needed for other general conditions, material, labor and equipment. The general contractor then gives this estimate to the owner or client.
Once the contract documents have been analyzed by both parties, they discuss their terms to agree. After that, they sign the contract to do the project together. The contract also assigns the roles and responsibilities of each person so that there won’t be any confusion in the future when the project begins. The general contractor may sometimes subcontract some or all the construction works to be done to subcontractors. The general contractor is still responsible for the work of the subcontractors.
Responsibilities of a general contractor:
- He is responsible for providing all the materials that are needed to do the construction work.
- He is responsible for providing the required skilled, and unskilled labor to do the job.
- He is responsible for providing all the types of equipment to the construction site. E.g., engineering vehicles, tools to do construction etc.
- He is responsible for overlooking the work every day on the construction site.
- He needs to take care of the quality of the work done.
- The general contractor is responsible for the safety on the construction site. He must make sure that all the necessary safety measures are being taken when the work is going on. He must also make sure that all personnel working on the site are wearing their safety gears.
- He is responsible for applying for the building permit.
- He needs to advise his client about the best practices to be carried on site.
- He must secure the property.
- He must be able to provide temporary utilities while working on the construction site.
- He must manage the personnel on-site.
- He must survey the construction site and the work done every day to assess the quality and progress rate.
- He is responsible for disposing construction waste and recycling it.
- He must monitor the schedule of the work.
- He needs to monitor the cash flow.
- He must have a written record of everything that happens on-site.
- He must make sure that all subcontractors do the work they are responsible for.
Do you need a general contractor for your site?
You can overlook the work on the construction site by yourself, but it is advised to hire a general contractor. He has more experience and knowledge of all things that happen on the site. He holds a greater responsibility and will be able to do the job effectively. Hiring a general contractor will help systematically do the job. He will be able to find the drawbacks in the work and help complete the work faster. He will record and maintain cash flow so that you don’t have to worry about money getting wasted. Hence it is better to hire a general contractor for your construction site.
How do you find a general contractor for your project?
You can find a general contractor through different methods. You can ask your architect or site engineer to suggest a good main contractor. An experienced contractor would have worked in a lot of projects before yours. Hence he would have contacts with several general contractors. Hiring a contractor who has a cordial relationship with your architect would smooth out the duration of the whole project. They would have a better understanding of how each other works. So they can work together to get the job done quicker.
Another way is to search for ‘General contractors near me’ or ‘License contractor in my area’ on the internet. This brings up a search list of all general contractors near you. You could look through their projects, achievements and any other details you can find before choosing them. The general contractor for your construction site is an important person. He is responsible for a lot of the work that needs to be done. Hence a responsible person should be chosen for the job. He must also hold a license to do the job.
Licensing requirement for the general contractor:
Most states in the U.S. require contractors to have a general contractors‘ license to work legally. Others don’t require any license, no matter what type of work you do. You only need to register with the State Contractors‘ Board or the local Department of Labor.
The requirements for a license will be different from place to place. The general contractor may also be required to sign a construction surety bond. This gives trust to both parties on each other to do the job they are responsible for properly.
Some general contractors might even need to study construction science, building science, surveying, construction safety before gaining a license. These general contractors may first begin working as construction workers. They can then learn about the various aspects of the works involved in constructing a building. They can even work with subcontractors to learn how to do management work. But they are not allowed to become general contractors legally if they don’t have a proper license to do the work.
So while looking on the internet for ‘General contractors near me’ the list will show all the general contractors next to you. The list may show contractors who are both licensed and with a license. Hence it is better to search ‘License contractor in my area’. You can be sure that these contractors have a license to do the work. It is also better to select a licensed contractor near your construction site. This will help you have better access and control over the construction site.
The licensed contractor will be available at the site at all times and you can get live updates about the work. He can also go to the site quickly in times of emergency and you don’t need to worry about it.