General contractor

General contractor

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A general contractor is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 site, management of vendors and trades, and communication of information to involved parties throughout the course of a building project.

Description


A general contractor must first assess the project-specific documents (referred to as tender documents). In the case of renovations, a site visit is required to get a better understanding of the project. The contractor will then calculate a price, also called an estimate. The general contractor considers the cost of materials and equipment as well as the cost of labor to provide the owner with an approximate price for the project.

Contract documents include a budget
Budget
A budget is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending. A budget is an important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more goods...

, any general and special conditions, and blueprint
Blueprint
A blueprint is a type of paper-based reproduction usually of a technical drawing, documenting an architecture or an engineering design. More generally, the term "blueprint" has come to be used to refer to any detailed plan....

s and specifications prepared by a design professional such as an architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

. In many instances the general contractor is the project engineer
Project engineer
A project engineer performs work that crosses the boundaries between engineering and project management, leading the technical workers who contribute to the building of structures or products. In some cases, the project engineer is the same as a project manager but in most cases these two...

 or project manager
Project manager
A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers can have the responsibility of the planning, execution, and closing of any project, typically relating to construction industry, architecture, computer networking, telecommunications or software...

 for construction projects.

Responsibilities


A general contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment (engineering vehicle
Engineering vehicle
Heavy equipment refers to heavy-duty vehicles, specially designed for executing construction tasks, most frequently ones involving earthwork operations. They are also known as, construction equipment, construction plant, earth movers, engineering vehicles, or simply equipment...

s and tools) and services necessary for the construction of the project. The general contractor hires specialized subcontractor
Subcontractor
A subcontractor is an individual or in many cases a business that signs a contract to perform part or all of the obligations of another's contract....

s to perform all or portions of the construction work.

Responsibilities may include applying for building permits, securing the property, providing temporary utilities on site, managing personnel on site, providing site surveying and engineering, disposing of or recycling construction waste, monitoring schedules and cash flows, and maintaining accurate records.

UK and commonwealth usage


In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and some British Commonwealth countries the term 'general contractor' was gradually superseded by 'main contractor' during the early twentieth century. This was the term used by major professional, trade, and consumer organizations when issuing contracts for construction work, and thus the term 'general contractor' fell out of use.

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

Licensing requirements


There are no set educational requirements to become a general contractor; most employers prefer a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

. Some general contractors obtain bachelor's degrees in construction science, building science
Building science
Building science is the collection of scientific knowledge that focuses on the analysis and control of the physical phenomena affecting buildings. It traditionally includes the detailed analysis of building materials and building envelope systems...

, surveying
Surveying
See Also: Public Land Survey SystemSurveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them...

, construction safety, or other disciplines.

General contractors often start out as construction worker
Construction worker
A construction worker or builder is a professional, tradesman, or labourer who directly participates in the physical construction of infrastructure.-Construction trades:...

s. While gaining work experience, they learn about different aspects of construction, including masonry
Masonry
Masonry is the building of structures from individual units laid in and bound together by mortar; the term masonry can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are brick, stone, marble, granite, travertine, limestone; concrete block, glass block, stucco, and...

, carpentry
Carpentry
A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

, framing
Framing
Framing or enframing may refer to:* Framing , the most common carpentry work* Framing or Framing effect , terminology used in communication theory, sociology, and other disciplines where it relates to the construction and presentation of a fact or issue "framed" from a particular perspective*...

, and plumbing
Plumbing
Plumbing is the system of pipes and drains installed in a building for the distribution of potable drinking water and the removal of waterborne wastes, and the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures in such systems. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping...

. Aspiring general contractors communicate with subcontractors and may learn the management skills they need to run their own company.

Experience in the construction industry as well as references from customers, business partners, or former employers are demanded. Some states require candidates to provide proof of 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 need to be familiar with construction techniques so they can manage workers effectively.

In the City of Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, there has been implemented a new Contractor Licensing program that requires various contractors and skilled trades to obtain licenses to do business within Toronto, even if they run their business outside the city. And in Ontario, it is mandatory that General Contractors who offer electrical services clearly state that they "only use ESA/ECRA Licensed Electrical Contractors".

As a business owner



For legal reasons it can be easier to hire and to release a contractor compared to a permanent employee. Business owners may choose to hire contractors because of economic uncertainty or other factors that make hiring employees impractical.

The first step in vetting a general contractor is to perform a contractor licensing lookup to ensure the contractor is properly licensed to perform the work. Most states
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 in the United States have free online license check databases available to the general public.

General contractor example


A property owner or real estate developer develops 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. Today contractors frequently participate on the design team by providing pre-design services such as providing estimations of the budget and scheduling requirements to improve the economy of the project. In other cases the general contractor is hired at the close of the design phase. The owner, architect, and general contractor work closely together to meet deadlines and budget. The general contractor works with subcontractors to ensure quality standards.