What is a General Contractor?

Mar 2, 2020 | General Contracting

What is a General Contractor

For some large renovation projects, hiring a general contractor is a must. It can be overwhelming if it’s your first time hiring someone for the task. You will need to find the right person for your remodeling needs and budget. While subcontractors are ideal for certain projects, hiring a general contractor will give you more flexibility and the time you need.

If you are unsure where to begin, here is some information to get you started, so you can make informed decisions about who to hire for your next remodeling projects. There are advantages and disadvantages when hiring contractors, so be sure to take all your project needs into account before making a choice.

What is a General Contractor?

A general contractor is responsible for taking control of a construction project. A general contractor can be a company or an individual, and they are typically hired for residential and commercial projects. If you are taking on a large construction project, but can’t assume any of the work on your own, hiring a general contractor to assist you may be the best option available. From overseeing physical labor, assessing the project plans, a general contractor can do it all.

What Does a General Contractor Do?

A general contractor’s job responsibilities vary from job to job. Typically a contractor performs several duties before, during and after the construction project. These services might include the following:

  • Provides the materials needed for the project.
  • Supplies all labor needed for the project.
  • Provides their own vehicles, tools and equipment.
  • Hires other contractors for specific tasks where more detail or experience is needed.
  • Oversees the timeliness and quality of all work performed.
  • Monitors payments, schedules and cash flow.
  • Keeps accurate records of the project.
  • Ensures that safety measures are followed at all times.

How to Find a Good General Contractor

When hiring a general contractor, first make sure the company or individual is reputable, highly experienced and qualified. When interviewing general contractors for your next exciting project, consider asking the following questions:

  • Has the company or contractor ever received complaints or been sued?
  • Are they insure and licensed?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have a list of references for you to contact?
  • Has the general contractor completed projects similar to yours?

Typically, subcontractors are hired by general contractors for their expertise. They will be asked to work on specialized tasks relating to a construction or renovation project. As part of the larger project, they will complete smaller projects managed by the general contractor.

Compared to a general contractor, a subcontract will complete tasks in which they specialize in, such as electrical work, sewers, HVAC, painting, tilling, insulation, drywalling, plumbing, carpentry, and appliance installation. They may be required to work on a contract by contract basis as determined by the general contractor. These are just a few of the areas a subcontractor may specialize in. Usually, the general contractor will decide who to hire for these projects. If you are a homeowner working with a general contractor that is experienced, they will hire experienced workers for you.

General Contractor vs Subcontractor

There are several key differences between subcontractors and general contractors. While one works directly with the client, the other is hired to work on a temporary or contractual basis. Subcontractors have very little contract with the homeowners or business owners during a construction project.

Here are some specific differences between the two. Subcontractors follow the instructions of a general contractor. Subcontractors are contracted employees and don’t have direct contact with homeowners or business owners. Subcontractors specialize in one or several areas of construction, such as plumbing or painting.

A general contractor works with the client directly, negotiating payments, developing schedules, and being responsible for hiring subcontractors. General contractors oversee a project from start to finish. From hiring laborers, drafting building plans to provide materials, general contractors keep construction projects on task. General contractors take care of everything from repairs, renovation and even plan new construction.

The Benefits of Hiring a General Contractor

There are plenty of advantages to hiring a general contractor to manage your next construction project. But of course, there are disadvantages that come with different types of contractors as well. While they are often needed for the completion of large renovation or construction projects, there are times when a general contractor may be more of an inconvenience. Breaking down the pros and cons of general contractors and subcontractors will assist you in hiring the best person or company for your next project.

A general contractor will give you the peace of mind that your project, especially a large construction project, is being overseen properly. General contractors are experienced, licensed and insured. A general contractor will hire all the labor need for the project, and provide their own equipment and vehicles needed to travel to the construction site. You can often negotiate project details, scheduling and costs and payments with a reputable, experienced general contractor.

Depending on the size of your construction project, general contractors can be quite expensive. Typically, general contractors cannot complete all physical tasks themselves and will need to hire others which only adds to the cost of their services. Since general contractors are in charge of all the work being completed, you don’t control how the work is being completed or the quality.

Choosing the Right General Contractor

The choice is yours! An experience subcontractor can help you if you only have a few simple repairs around your home or business. They will get the job done efficiently and quickly. However, sometimes subcontractors can lack the same level of loyalty and commitment general contractors do to projects that require more work over a longer period of time.

For large projects that require construction, new build or remodeling, consider hiring a general contractor to manage the project for you. They will give you the motivation and personal connection that a subcontractor will not. A general contractor tasked with a large project, will have a commitment to quality and established clients. Remember there are disadvantages and advantages to working with both types of contractors, so be sure to take all your needs into account so you hire the right one for the job.

Be sure to do your research. Talk to people who have used their services in the past. A general contractor can easily boast about qualifications and experiences, you need to see for yourself if they are the right fit for you.

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