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What is a General Contractor?

Oct 6, 2023 | Blog

The dream of every skilled construction worker might often be to wear the hat of a General Contractor (GC). You’ve been on the ground, you’ve handled tools, and now you dream of orchestrating entire projects. Or perhaps you’re a subcontractor, keen to grasp how your role intersects with that of the GC. This article aims to shed light on the role of a General Contractor from the construction side of things.

What is a General Contractor?
Imagine you’re part of a well-tuned band. The GC is akin to the band leader, making sure every instrument plays its part correctly and harmoniously. In the construction world, the GC is the maestro ensuring every piece, from masonry to electrical, fits together in the grand construction symphony.

For the Aspiring GC: Understanding Your Role

  • Project Supervision: Unlike the days when your main focus might’ve been on laying bricks or installing fixtures, as a GC, your gaze needs to be everywhere. It’s about ensuring the project sticks to its timeline and monitoring day-to-day operations.
  • Engaging Subcontractors: If you’ve been a subcontractor, you know the drill. As a GC, you’ll hire specialists like plumbers, electricians, or tilers, ensuring the right expert is handling each specific task.
  • Materials Procurement: Gone are the days of waiting for materials to arrive. As a GC, you’re in charge of sourcing and purchasing everything needed for the project.
  • Maintaining Compliance: Remember all those regulations and codes you adhered to? Now, you’ll be ensuring the entire project meets these standards.
  • Safety First: Having worked on-site, you know the hazards. As a GC, you’ll be the one setting and ensuring safety standards for everyone involved.
  • Budget Control: With the project’s purse strings in your hands, you’ll be making sure everything aligns with the set budget, managing costs, and mitigating unforeseen expenses.

Subcontractor’s Perspective: Your Relationship with the GC

  • The Main Point of Contact: As a subcontractor, the GC is your go-to person for all things related to the project. They provide you with the specifics of what’s needed and when.
  • Coordination: While you’re an expert in your field, the GC coordinates how and when your expertise fits into the larger project. They set the timeline and ensure your work seamlessly integrates with other subcontractors’ tasks.
  • Payment: Typically, subcontractors are paid by the GC, not the client. So, it’s the GC who negotiates your contract, agrees upon your fees, and ensures timely payment.

Stepping into GC Shoes: Tips for Construction Workers
Education and Licensing: While hands-on experience is invaluable, many regions require GCs to have specific licenses. Research local requirements and consider courses that boost your management skills.

  • Networking: Build relationships with other subcontractors, suppliers, and industry professionals. As a GC, these connections will be invaluable.
  • Mastering the Business Side: Being a skilled worker is different from running a construction business. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with contracts, bids, client relationships, and other business aspects.

The transition from a construction worker or subcontractor to a General Contractor is an exciting leap, filled with new challenges and responsibilities. While the role of a GC entails broader oversight, it’s also an opportunity to make a more significant impact, bringing projects to life from start to finish. If you’re considering this transition or simply aiming to understand your relationship with the GC better, remember that at the heart of it all is the collective goal: to construct dreams, brick by brick.