Getting Your General Contractor (GC) — What Does The Job Entail?

Newsletter 15-05

Any construction project relies on a number of talented, hard-working people in order to come to fruition (especially within budget and schedule). One of the key drivers of success for any job is the right general contractor. Those in the construction industry are well aware that the general contractor (GC) can make or break a project.

But what, exactly, does a general contractor do? Some believe a GC is similar to a project manager, but their responsibilities are so much greater. but there is much more to their position than the oversight of subcontractors. Read on to better understand the role and what to look for when hiring a GC.

Project Management & Contracts

Before the hammering ever begins, a general contractor will be involved in the planning phase of a construction project. Their early collaboration with a homeowner (or business owner) and creative team is important in figuring out the overall budget and timeline for the project.

The general contractor will usually conduct site visits, and meet with architects and designers to determine individual budgets for materials, large pieces of equipment, and labor. From there, they can create a timeline and draw up contracts for the relevant parties. Contracts will include important clauses that vary from state to state, so it’s important to hire a GC who is licensed and up to date with proper paperwork.

Hiring Subcontractors & Acquiring Equipment

When it’s time to get the build underway, the general contractor will be responsible for hiring and managing subcontractors. Often, the GC already has a network of subcontractors who they can rely on, and have worked with in the past. This is especially helpful for the project’s timeline as it ensures communication between the subcontractors and GC will run smoothly.

In addition to hiring subcontractors, the GC is often responsible for providing all the necessary equipment and materials to each subcontractor. This includes providing temporary utilities on site for all workers, as well as the removal of waste and unnecessary materials.

Keeping the Schedule Running Smoothly

As mentioned above, in order for the project to come in at the proposed budget and within schedule, the general contractor must carefully oversee every aspect of the construction process. Any day-to-day job site issues can cause delays in the overall timeline, so the GC acts as a project manager for the array of subcontractors working on individual jobs. It’s up to the GC to schedule everyone appropriately and within federal and state labor laws.

In addition to this, the GC must act as the main liaison with the homeowner/businessowner(s) and design team. Communication is key to ensuring that the original contract is honored, and a good GC will excel at keeping the various parties informed of the build’s progress (as well as any setbacks).

Oversee the Permit Process

Finally, a key aspect of any construction job — and one that falls under the purview of the general contractor — is ensuring that the building is up to code. Permits and licenses vary greatly by state, and it can be a huge scheduling issue to have to pause a project while awaiting approvals.

On top of securing the right permits in advance of construction, the GC is also responsible for making sure that everything is up to code and will pass inspection when the time comes. They should be able to work with the team of subcontractors to ensure that every aspect of a project will pass inspection, so that a project is not delayed (or worse).

The Takeaway

To find a great general contractor, references are key. Not only will a good GC have proper licensing — the requirements of which will vary from state to state — but they will have a range of clients who speak highly of them from past projects.

They should also have an existing pool of subcontractors to work with. This will not only make new construction projects run smoothly, but will show that they have plenty of experience managing a team, and one who is eager to work with them again.