It’s always a season for changes and this season, specifically, is yours. You have big ideas, a set amount of money, and a deadline. What’s next? Well, now you need to reach out to a general contractor to help take your dreams and turn them into reality. So what is a general contractor, and what exactly do they do?
A general contractor is an individual in charge of planning, leading, executing, supervising and inspecting a building construction project. Your general contractor will undertake many responsibilities throughout the entire process.
What responsibilities does my General Contractor have?
When someone decides to build a home or make changes to their house, a general contractor is called. So what do they do?
One of your general contractors’ first responsibilities is project planning. This means that your general contractor has to be in charge of a master schedule that describes all activities, along with their time distribution and planned budget.
Next, your general contractor will be in charge of project management. In order to get this project done, some of the activities that need to take place are:
- Ensuring funds are available to keep the project moving
- Purchasing materials with enough anticipation for them to reach the site when needed
- Purchasing or renting the construction equipment required for the project
- Interviewing and hiring subcontractors to complete specialized work
- Creating progress reports to justify intermediate payments
Along with the responsibilities we have already discussed, a general contractor needs to be accountable for their personnel, payroll for the personnel, and payments for their subcontractors.
General contractors also take care of project tracking. Project tracking is essential because it highlights contract specifications and schedules. In order for the process to happen at the scheduled time the project scope, time, and budget must always be in mind when making decisions. Project tracking also means that general contractors must prevent disruption. This involves several complementary activities such as:
- Quality control
- Using cost-effective construction methods
- Ensuring a constant supply of materials, and scheduling purchases well in advance
- Construction site safety
Your contractor must ensure health and safety in the construction site, by implementing adequate procedures and raising awareness among workers.
Regulation & Legislation
Your contractor also has to be aware of legal and regulatory issues, such as local legislation and building codes. They must acquire all the necessary permits and licenses before starting the project while covering any fees and taxes that apply.
General Contractor vs Subcontractor
Now that we have learned the responsibilities of the contractor, we must then understand the difference between a General Contractor, who we have described above, and Subcontractors.
Throughout the process of making changes to your living space, there could be dozens of different subcontractors in your home to get the project through to completion.
As stated above, all of the responsibilities and control lie in the hands of the general contractor. The main goal of the general contractor is to oversee the work of the project and the individuals working for him to ensure that the job is completed with little to no issues. Typically your general contractor will be well versed in safety procedures, proper construction practices, and laws surrounding any building project, but professional licensing and requirements will vary according to your area.
Subcontractors are individuals or businesses directly hired by a general contractor to perform specific and specialized tasks. Their main objective is to work on and complete smaller projects that are part of the larger project or whole.
Types of Subcontractors
There are many types of Subcontractors that will perform various functions in your home.
Some of the Subcontractors you may come across are:
- Electricians: who work on virtually every construction project. They install breaker boxes, wiring and fixtures, and deal with power companies to have grid power turned off so that new systems can be hooked up safely.
- Plumbers: who are responsible for water systems in buildings, including connecting a house to a well or municipal water main, installing water heating equipment, and building and maintaining drainage and septic systems.
- Heating and Ductwork or HVAC: they install and service furnaces, boilers, and the extensive piping and ductwork that are required to heat or cool a building. They may also work in conjunction with electricians since their systems interlock.
- Drywaller: these individuals install drywall onto framing, and tape, spackle and sand walls smooth.
- Painters: begin their work as soon as the drywaller has completed the sanding of the drywall.
- Finish Carpenters: usually the final subcontractor to work on the interior of a building. They install door and window trim, baseboards, and other interior trim that may include things such as crown moldings and wainscoting.
There are many other subcontractors that you may come across depending on the nature of the job such as, masons, roofers, excavators, landscapers, cabinetmakers and interior design consultants to name a few.