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General contractor

A general contractor is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the construction site, and management of vendors and trades. In addition, keep communication between the general contractor and the involved parties open and clear through out the course of project.[1]

Before starting a job, the general contractor must first visit and then assess the site. As a result of this, a price also called an ‘’estimate’’. The general contractor considers the cost of materials, equipment as well as the cost of labor to provide the owner with an approximate price for the project.

In these contract documents, the contract agreement includes budget, the general and special conditions and the plans and specification of the project that are prepared by a design professional such as an architect.

Responsibilities

A general contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment, (engineering vehicles and tools) and services necessary for the construction of the project. In order for the general contractor to get these tasks done, is by hiring more specialized subcontractors to perform certain portions or even all of the construction work.

Depending on the size of a project, the following responsibilities may include:
 
   • Filing for building permits,
   • Securing the property,
   • Providing temporary utilities on site
   • Managing personnel on site
   • Providing site surveying and engineering
   • Disposing/Recycling of construction waste
   • Monitoring schedules and cash flows
   • Maintaining accurate records as construction progress [2]

History

In the United Kingdom and certain former British Commonwealth countries the term 'general contractor' was gradually superseded by 'main contractor' during the early twentieth century. This followed the practice of major professional, trade and consumer organizations issuing standard forms of contract for undertaking the variety of construction works spanning the whole spectrum of the industry. It was and is usual for the term main contractor to be used and defined in all these contract documents, and as a result the term general contractor became an anachronism.</ref>[1]

General contractors that conduct work for government agencies are typically referred to as prime contractors.

Requirements for Licensing

There are no set educational requirements to become a general contractor, although most employers do prefer that you have a bachelor's degree. Some general contractors obtain bachelor's degrees in construction science, building science, surveying, construction safety etc.

General contractors usually start out as regular construction workers. While gaining work experience, they learn about different aspects of construction, including masonry, carpentry, framing and plumbing. Aspiring general contractors network with subcontractors and may learn the management skills they need to run their own company.

Depending on the state, the requirements will vary from passing a written exam on topics such as contracting and construction law or require a bachelor's degree for licensing. Also, experience in the construction industry as well as references from customers, business partners or former employers are demanded. Some states go as far as requiring candidates to prove financing to own their own general contracting firm.

General contractors often run their own business. They hire subcontractors to complete specialized construction work and may manage a team of plumbers, electricians, builders, carpenters and other specialists. General contractors build their business by networking with potential clients, buying basic construction tools and ensuring that their subcontractors complete high-quality work. General contractors don't usually complete much construction work themselves, but they should remain familiar with construction techniques so they can manage workers effectively.

Because general contractors are usually at the top of the employment line the only benefits are the ones that they buy themselves. However, if the general contractor works under a company, getting heath insurance is a plus. Because the jobs vary in complexity, they get paid by the job. Also, some materials cost more than others. For example, tiling a bathroom will cost more than putting siding on a house.

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages is being your own boss, as a contractor you are not required to accept work from a client. You have the freedom to pick and choose your contracts which can result in having a great work variation. Contractors usually take projects that last 3, 6, or 12 months, in duration, to gain a wealth of experience.

Disadvantages

If you own your own business which is common in general contracting, then you must supply yourself and your employees with some heath benefits. In addition, taking any paid vacation because you get paid at the end of a job which leads to another problem which is not getting paid. Luckily, if the owner doesn’t want to pay you, then filing a contractor’s ‘’lien’’ can help secure payment.

As a service

Most contractors are required to be licensed in every state and may be required to take an oral and written exam. License requirements and coverage vary by state, and may cover those who contract, bid, negotiate a price or offer to construct, supervise, oversee, direct, alter, repair, install, improve, move, demolish, furnishing labor, etc. Various types of contractor include building (residential and commercial), electrical, plumbing, mechanical, highway, and environmental remediation.

As an owner

Occasionally the entity commissioning the construction of the building chooses to act as the general contractor. In such cases, they work directly with the subcontractors and take care of the administration and organization of the various subcontractors.

Under these conditions the owner takes on all liability for proper sequencing of the work, and dealing with the realities of construction.

Contractors will acknowledge this with their cooperation. Owners seldom have this advantage, and most subcontractors will recognize the risk of working with a one time client with higher bids.

As an alternative, the owner builder approach to building its own residence can have risks and benefits. As a novice in the business, the owner builder is vulnerable to a number of common mistakes such as overbuilding the neighborhood, exposure to liabilities, lack of subcontractor management skills, and others. Subcontractor loyalty and discounted prices to general contractor are not a rule at all. As the economy worsens, and many builders struggle to find work, the owner builder can pick the best talent at the price that is only limited to his or her negotiating skills.

As a business owner

Main article: Independent contractor

For legal reasons it can be easier to hire and also release a contractor compared to an employee that has Permanent employment. Large numbers of business owners choose to hire contractors because of uncertainty within their business or have constraints such as maternity, illness or other legal factors which entail that hiring a permanent employee is not a feasible option.[3]

General contractor example

An owner or real estate developer would develop a program of their needs and select a site (often with an architect). The Architect assembles a design team of consulting engineers and other experts to design the building and specify the building systems to meet those needs. Today contractors frequently participate in the design team effort by providing pre-design services where they will help in providing more accurate estimation of budget and scheduling during design to improve the over all economy of the project. Otherwise the general contractor is hired just to build the building(s) at the close of the design phase. The owner, architect, and general contractor work closely together to meet deadlines and budget. The general contractor then works with subcontractors to ensure quality standards in addition to timeline and budget. Often there will be disagreements between the contractor and the architect over style vs. function. These arguments may lead to lawsuits which can potentially prolong or even stop a project.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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