General contractors are key to the success of your construction project. They help make the project run smoothly from start to finish and are invaluable assets to property owners.

There is some confusion over what exactly a general contractor does during a project, so to clarify, let’s take a closer look at what a general contractor is, what specific jobs they perform, and the licensing requirements they must meet.

What is a General Contractor?

There are two commonly accepted definitions for what a general contractor does. Each refers to a different kind of work, but both are known by the same name, so it’s important to understand the difference between them to eliminate any potential confusion.

The first kind of general contractor–and the more widely known–refers to a person who acts as a project manager for building or construction projects. They oversee a building or home’s construction from design to completion. This is the kind of general contractor we will be discussing in this article.

The second kind of general contractor refers to an individual who does freelance or otherwise contracted work for their clients. They are not typically hired on as employees for a company and can be tasked with completing many different kinds of work, including graphic design, copywriting, photography, landscaping, bookkeeping, and more.

What Does a General Contractor Do?

General contractors are responsible for overseeing the entirety of a construction project. They function as the middleman between property owners and all of the subcontractors, construction workers, vendors, delivery men, and other professionals who work on the project.

The scope of a general contractor’s work will depend on their specific project. For example, if they’re working on a design-build project, a general contractor will be responsible for managing not only the project’s construction but also its design. If the project is a more traditional design-bid-build, then the contractor only oversees the project after the design is completed by the hired architect.

Either way, a general contractor is very involved in every step of a construction project from before it begins to after it ends.

Before A Project’s Construction Begins

As mentioned, before any building or construction is done on-site, a general contractor may be very involved with the design of the project. This can include working with architects and planners to develop a design, confirming project specifications with the owner, and settling on a final build design.

But even if a general contractor isn’t involved with the design of a project, there are still several things they will need to take care of before construction can start. They are responsible for creating and managing an appropriate project budget, selecting and hiring the best subcontractors to complete specific project tasks, and going over final design plans to ensure that the owner’s idea can come to life in the way they hope.

Note that while the bulk of work on these tasks is going to be completed at the start of a project, they will still need to be overseen throughout the project’s duration.

While Construction is Ongoing

The majority of work a general contractor does during a project occurs in this middle phase when construction is actively happening. In this phase, they will need to oversee every aspect of the project to ensure that the owner’s and architect’s designs are fully realized. 

The general contractor will also work hard to make sure that project deadlines and timeline goals are being met. This is one of the main reasons a general contractor is hired in the first place because without a timeline manager, it would be very easy for construction to derail and take longer than necessary, which could cost the owners significantly.

Additionally, a general contractor will ensure everyone on site works well together and that any challenges that arise are dealt with competently.

After Construction is Completed

You may think that a general contractor’s responsibilities are completed once a project ends, but there are still a few tasks that they need to oversee. 

The general contractor will be responsible for collecting and tracking lien waivers, making sure all the tradespeople and subcontractors are paid, and ensuring that all payments are correctly issued. Further, they must make sure that any problems with payments are taken care of on time.

General Contractor Licensing Requirements

In most cases, general contractors must be fully licensed before they begin working on a project. These licensing requirements will differ between states, but they provide many benefits not only for the general contractor but also for property owners and any other stakeholders.

For general contractors, licensing allows them to protect their lien rights in most states. For property owners, licensing means they can guarantee their general contractor is credible and trustworthy. And for state and local governments, licensing helps them better regulate insurance, taxes, and safety among contractors.

Key Takeaways

General contractors are a key part of any construction project. They help oversee the project’s management from beginning to end to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

If you’re looking for a general contractor for your project, or if you’re a general contractor preparing to oversee a project, reach out to our top-tier team of agents to make sure you have all the right insurance options in place. That way, if anything goes wrong, you’re protected against damages, liabilities, and much more.