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Understanding the Role of a General Contractor

When it comes to construction projects, a general contractor refers to the company or individual responsible for managing a construction project. Ultimately, property owners will work with general contractors to guarantee that a construction project can be accomplished timely, safely, and according to the required specifications.

Also known as GCs, these general contractors are essential for both simple residential and complicated commercial construction projects.

Although there are some particular tasks such as laying new flooring or replacing a roof that you could outsource to various types of subcontractors, you will likely require a general contractor if your project needs coordination in different stages or several specialty contractors to finish the job.

Here, we are going to explore the role of a general contractor in construction, how to decide whether you need a general contractor in your project, and how a general contractor is being paid.

What is the Role of a General Contractor?

A general contractor is responsible for overseeing a construction project from start to finish. Furthermore, a general contractor acts as the middleman between the property owner and those responsible for bringing the construction to life, such as tradespeople, vendors, and suppliers.

The responsibilities of general contractors largely depend on how the project will be delivered. For instance, in design-build projects, it’s either the general contractor or the architect who manages the project from beginning to end. In other words, the general contractor might be responsible for both the construction and the design of a particular project.

On the other hand, in a design-bid-build project, both the general contractor and the design team report to the property owner, each with their own separate contracts. The design team creates the contract documents, including specifications, drawings, and other exhibits. Once completed, the designs are delivered to the general contractors so they can bid on the project. Subsequently, they oversee the project until its completion.

The general contractor plays an important role before, during, and after the construction process to ensure the project’s completion.

Responsibilities Before Construction

Before construction begins, the general contractor is responsible for establishing the construction budget, hiring reliable subcontractors for specialized tasks, and collaborating with the architect to ensure the design is implemented.

While these tasks commence before construction starts, the general contractor continues to manage the budget, coordinate with the architect, and communicate with other contractors throughout the project.

Responsibilities During Construction

During construction, the general contractor is responsible for overseeing the work according to the contract specifications, ensuring the project stays on schedule while collaborating with specialty contractors, checking the quality and scheduling of the construction, paying vendors and specialty contractors, and collecting and monitoring lien waivers.

Overall, the responsibility of a general contractor during construction is to ensure that all aspects of the project are coordinated effectively while addressing any challenges that may impact the budget or schedule.

Responsibilities After Construction

Even after the completion of construction, the general contractor still has several tasks to complete. These include collecting and monitoring lien waivers, ensuring that specialty contractors are paid for their services, and addressing any payment issues that may arise.

Acting as the intermediary between the property owner and the subcontractors, the general contractor must ensure that all work is completed according to specifications and that payments are made promptly.

Overall, the general contractor oversees all the components that contribute to the construction project from beginning to end. Often, they take on a managerial role while subcontractors carry out their tasks. In smaller projects, the general contractor may also perform some of the work themselves and only hire subcontractors for specialized tasks.

While general contractors are just one type of contractor among many, they play a crucial role in ensuring the successful completion of construction projects and the fair compensation of all involved parties.

Licensing Requirements for General Contractors

         Inevitably, every state mandates that all contractors, including general contractors, must be licensed. Licensing offers benefits to all stakeholders involved in the construction project.

States and municipalities utilize licensing to regulate contractors and ensure adherence to safety, tax, and insurance guidelines. Property owners benefit from licensing by being able to identify contractors who are trustworthy and credible.

Contractors themselves also derive advantages from being licensed; for example, they can safeguard their lien rights in multiple states. Opting for licensed contractors ensures that all individuals involved in the construction receive appropriate compensation.

How Does the Bidding Process Work?

For public and commercial construction projects, the bidding process assists general contractors in securing access to the project. The process begins when the architect or owner announces that a particular project is open for bidding and that bid documents are available for distribution to general contractors.

Subsequently, the architect or owner issues an invitation to bid (ITB), request for quote (RFQ), or request for proposal (RFP). This invitation may be sent exclusively to selected general contractors or may be open to all general contractors interested in bidding. General contractors then follow a series of steps in their pursuit of securing the contract for the project.

Once the bidding documents are prepared, general contractors initiate their own bidding process. They may divide the scope of work and solicit bids from various specialty contractors. After reviewing the bids received, the general contractor selects the winning bids.

Subsequently, they compile a proposal and submit it to the architect or owner. Additionally, the architect or owner may have their own procedures, such as conducting interviews with general contractors or implementing a scoring system to aid in selecting the most suitable candidate for the project.

Different Types of Construction Contractors

While general contractors play a pivotal role in overseeing the overall building process, they are not the sole managers or contractors involved in construction projects. Particularly for larger projects, various other roles are necessary. Here are some of them:

  • Construction Manager: The responsibilities of a construction manager are similar to those of a general contractor. However, in many cases, both are directly hired by the owner, who assigns tasks such as hiring a general contractor, making estimates, and managing the project.
  • Prime Contractor or General Contractor: The contractor awarded the main contract is known as the general contractor or prime contractor. While the general contractor may also serve as the prime contractor, some projects require non-general contractors to fulfill this role.
  • Specialty Contractor: Typically, the general contractor hires multiple specialists, known as specialty contractors, to perform specific tasks at the construction site. In most projects, the owner pays the general contractor, who then compensates the specialty contractors.

These are just a few of the key individuals involved in a construction project.

The Role of a General Contractor in the Payment Process

Typically, the owner will directly compensate the general contractor. However, payment in construction can sometimes be convoluted, and the payment process for general contractors is no exception.

General contractors play a crucial role in the payment chain. They are tasked with distributing funds from the property owner to various suppliers and contractors. However, inadequate communication and transparency can significantly impact this process, leading to delays in payments to all parties involved in the project.

For your construction projects, especially those involving framing, M-1 Framing Subs Inc can provide assistance. Feel free to contact us at 562.362.6074 or email us at for further details about our services.


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