Construction of a new commercial facility or renovation of your old one is a complex process. It needs the involvement of so many persons who have to work together to bring the project to its final shape. Among all those who work on the construction, the General Contractor is one of the most important. The entire project revolves around him and he is so indispensable that even before starting the idea of construction you need to find a General contractor for your project.
But, if you have enough time and experience in the construction field, then you can decide to act as your general contractor and take charge of the project directly. Unlike a General Contractor, the sub-contractors who are called in to complete a specific part of the project offer more flexibility and cost-saving than getting the project conducted by a general contractor.
As there are many advantages and disadvantages to letting a general contractor take care of the project you have to consider these before deciding whether your project needs a General contractor or can be taken care of by subcontractors.
Who is a General contractor?
A General Contractor is usually hired for large commercial or residential projects and maybe an individual or a company and is in total control of the project. When you are not able to take care of the project by yourself and have to get it done through others, then a General Contractor will be the best option for you. With their rich experience and specialized knowledge in the construction field, they can virtually act as the owner of the project right from the planning stage and see that the project is completed as per the plan and as per the budget.
The responsibilities of the General Contractor is far and wide and starts well before the start of the project and ends only after the project is complete in all respects.
Some of his primary responsibilities include:
- Sourcing and supply of all materials used in the construction
- Selection and hiring all the manpower for the project
- Bringing in the required equipment, machinery, and tools
- Appointing subcontractors to complete specific parts of the project
- Ensuring that the project timeline is adhered to
- Taking responsibility for the quality of work
- Taking care of the payment schedules and maintaining smooth cash flow
- Maintaining all the records for the projects
- Being responsible for the safety and security at the worksite
How to become a General Contractor?
A general contractor does not need any formal education to become one. But his accumulated experience, specialized knowledge about each phase of the construction project, the training he had by actually working in the field are the most important requisites for an individual to work as a General contractor. But in countries like the US, there is a requirement for those aspiring to become a general contractor to pass a written exam. This exam tests them in the fields of workplace safety, adoption of proper construction practices and compliance of various construction related laws and regulations.
Become your General contractor
As the project owner, you have all the knowledge about the project and hence if you want you can become your General contractor if you have the necessary knowledge and experience. This way you can lead your project and need not have to look upon others to take care of your project. But, it is important that you have all the necessary knowledge and training so that you can professionally handle the project. You also must have all the required licenses, insurance, and other legal compliance to lead the project as your own General Contractor.
When you decide to conduct the construction project as your general contractor, then you can engage subcontractors to complete specific types of work and that way you can easily take care of specialized works. But, you must be able to plan and execute things in such a way that the project proceeds smoothly and is completed within the planned time and budget.
Finding the best General Contractor for your Project
Appointing a General contractor is one of the most important decisions that you will be taking while planning to commence your construction. You have to find the best person available in your local area and they may be an individual or a company with necessary industry standing and accumulated experience. You have to select them based on their reputation, qualification, and experience as a general contractor.
Do your homework thoroughly before making the decision and you have to consider a lot of factors before deciding on the suitability of a person to be your general contractor.
Consider the following before making your final decision:
- Their industry standing
- Their past projects
- Their professionalism in handling the projects
- Have they completed projects similar to yours
- Are they legally licensed and certified to act as general contractors
- Are they insured to act as a general contractor
- Their pricing structure
- Their knowledge about the latest trends in building design, and construction processes
- Their approachability
- Their ability to engage with the project and offer suggestions and recommendations for easy and professional completion of the project
- Their ability to find and finalize best deals while procuring of materials for the project
- Their ability to handle emergencies
- Their way of dealing with financial matters
- Their past work history
- Their legal problems especially by their past clients
- Their positive references and reviews from online directories and their past clients
So, do your research as per the above factors and shortlist the best among the probables. Still, hear your instincts before placing your trust in a particular person. If you have little doubt about their credibility, integrity or trustworthiness go ahead and select the others and this is the only way to find the best general contractor for your construction project.
Who is a Subcontractor?
A subcontractor is a person who comes into your project to complete a specific part of the project and usually works under the general contractor. These subcontractors have specialized knowledge and skill in doing a particular part of the project and take on the responsibility for the due completion of a small part of the whole project.
Most of the times the subcontractor is a small business or a team of persons or even an individual possessing the specialized knowledge and skill in doing a particular type of work. They complete the tasks allotted to them by the general contractor and they are called into work on the project due to their reputation and expert knowledge in completing a part of the project.
What Does a Subcontractor Do?
A subcontractor with his specialized knowledge and training performs the specific tasks they are skilled in, and concentrates more on doing their part of the project and goes off the project as soon as their part of the project is completed.
Some of the specific types of work they do on the project include:
- Electrical Works
- Plumbing works
- Installation and operation of Appliances
- Carpentry and all types of woodworks
- Heating and Insulation
- Tiling and flooring
- Sewers construction and drainage systems
These are only some parts of the project that will be usually handled by a sub-contractor. As the subcontractor is selected and engaged by the general contractor you do not have any responsibility for the subcontractor or his way of working.
Differences between a
|General Contractor||Sub- contractor|
|Works directly with the project owner||Works under the General Contractor|
|Reponsible for the entire project||Responsible for only a part of the project|
|Follows the instruction of the project Owner||Follows the instructions of the General contractor|
|Can do anything on a project to complete it||Does only his part of the project|
|Usually paid as per the cost of the project||Paid fixed sums for his part of work|
Advantages of a general contractor
- He takes care of every part of the project hence the project completion is worry-free to you
- They safeguard you against any legal liabilities as they are fully licensed and insured against all workplace liabilities
- They take care of the selection and engagement of subcontractors
- You have a single point of contact during the working phase of the project
Disadvantages of General Contractors:
- They charge a price based on the size and budget of the project
- They engage subcontractors for most parts of the project hence the cost of the project escalates
- The quality and performance of the project are all under the control of the general contractor and you cannot exercise control over the project execution
Advantages of Subcontractors:
- As they are experts in their field of activity they are fast, sure and efficient
- Can be called in at any time and they can work extra as required
- They are cheaper than the general contractor
- Engage them to complete a single work and hence you have flexibility in the execution of the project
Disadvantages of Subcontractors:
- They do not work under you and hence you cannot exercise full control over them
- You cannot expect them to have the same commitment and loyalty towards you as full-time employees or general contractors
- Tax implications are different when you are working with a subcontractor
The Choice remains with you
As the engagement of a subcontractor or a general contractor has its own merits and demerits the choice lies with you as to the selection of the way you want to go for your project. Spend time to do the research and make your decision based on sound facts and the objectives you want to achieve and the amount of money you are ready to spend for the engagement.