The Role of General Contractors

A general contractor (GC) oversees all the tradespeople and professionals involved in a construction project. They are like the producer of a play, hiring and corralling everyone to achieve their end goal.

General Contractors

Great GCs are realistic with their clients about what they can and cannot accomplish within their budgets. They also have an eye for detail, regularly scanning their work for imperfections and addressing them accordingly. Visit to learn more.

The role of general contractors is an essential one, but it’s also a complex and multifaceted one. They manage many different aspects of a construction project, from meeting permit requirements to working with client demands and more. It’s important that they are able to manage all of these various responsibilities well so that the entire process goes smoothly and everyone involved is happy with the final results.

The first step is to prepare a construction proposal that details all of the project’s specifics. This includes a cost estimate for labor, materials, equipment rental and more. It’s also up to them to hire workers, establish supply chains, buy liability insurance and more.

It’s not uncommon for general contractors to serve as the construction manager for a project, especially large projects that require specialized skills. These professionals work with a design team to ensure that the building meets all necessary specifications. Then, they oversee all of the construction work to make sure that it is completed on time and on budget.

Another part of their job is to meet with clients on a regular basis and provide updates on the status of the project. They are responsible for passing on any relevant information to the subcontractors and vendors so that everyone stays informed about what is happening on site.

General contractors are also in charge of monitoring construction sites to make sure that they follow all applicable safety standards. They are in charge of hiring and supervising employees to help with the work, making sure that all tools and materials are available and that any potential hazards are addressed.

Experienced general contractors have a wide range of knowledge about construction processes and best practices, and they are able to adapt quickly to new trends and challenges in the industry. They are able to identify the most suitable technology to implement at a particular site and understand how different aspects of a construction project are interconnected.

While it’s possible to complete some construction or renovation projects on your own, most of them will require a professional. If you’re laying down pipes or doing electrical work, you’ll need to bring in a general contractor to help.

Education and Training Requirements

General contractors must be skilled at many tasks, including wall framing, drywall installation, painting and window and door installation. They also need to be able to read blueprints and planning documents. These skills help them translate the vision written on paper into the reality of steel and concrete. General contractors also need to have excellent project management skills. They must be able to assemble teams, manage schedules and work permits and buy the necessary equipment. Often, they must also deal directly with clients, and this can require strong communication and problem-solving abilities.

Those who want to become general contractors must first complete a trade school program or apprenticeship. These programs can take up to four years. They provide hands-on experience in the field and teach students about building methods, engineering principles and construction safety. They also teach about the different kinds of materials used in construction and how they differ in terms of cost, strength and durability.

In addition to completing an educational program, most states require that general contractors obtain a license to operate a construction business. This process varies by state, but it typically involves passing an exam and demonstrating several years of on-the-job experience. The exam covers legal and financial requirements, as well as professional topics like construction materials, electrical systems and plumbing.

Licensed general contractors can usually find larger jobs and establish their businesses more effectively. They can also avoid fines and other penalties for failing to follow the proper guidelines for construction projects. Those who don’t want to go through the licensing process can still pursue work in construction, but they won’t be able to participate in large-scale projects and may have difficulty finding clients.

While there are no national requirements for becoming a general contractor, most specialties like plumbing, well drilling and HVAC must be licensed at the state level. Therefore, it’s important for those interested in this career to research the regulations for their specific locations.

Licensing Requirements

Depending on where you live, the licensing requirements for general contractors may vary. Some states have mandatory licenses for all general contractors, while others have different requirements at the local or state level. For example, in New York City, you must obtain a basic contractor license from the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection before working on construction projects or owning a contracting business. This process typically includes passing an exam and providing various documents such as proof of residence, address, and workers’ compensation insurance.

Other areas, such as Alabama, require all general contractors to pass both a trade and state exam. The type of license you need will depend on the size of your projects and whether or not they are commercial. Some states also offer special licensing for specific types of jobs, such as a class A general engineering contractor for structural projects that require special engineering knowledge, and a class B residential remodeling contractor for projects on existing single-family homes that involve significant remodels.

In addition to the required exam, you must have extensive experience in order to become a general contractor. This experience can be gained through practical application of the trade or through a career path that combines training courses and supervised work experience, such as an apprenticeship with a professional organization or union.

A general contractor has the job of ensuring that all construction and renovation tasks follow procedure to ensure safety, quality, and compliance with building codes. This can include coordinating inspections, obtaining permits, and scheduling all construction activities. When done incorrectly, these processes can lead to costly delays or even project termination. A GC takes care of all necessary paperwork and steps to avoid these issues, as well as to help the team stay on track to meet deadlines.

In some cases, a property owner will opt for a negotiated contract with a general contractor instead of bidding out the work to several contractors. This can be a great way to save time and money while still getting the best quality for your home. A GC will take care of planning and coordinating the entire project, as well as dynamically responding to any roadblocks that occur during the construction process to bring your home project to completion on schedule.


The salary levels available to general contractors depend on the amount of experience and qualifications they possess. Generally speaking, those with more experience tend to earn higher salaries. Those with more advanced degrees also often see their earnings rise, although this isn’t always the case.

The level of pay is also dependent on the type of projects a general contractor oversees. While some GCs are solely responsible for building new construction structures, many specialize in the remodeling or renovation of existing buildings as well.

GCs can choose to work independently or for a large corporation. Typically, those who work for larger companies have more opportunities to advance within the organization, but there are also independent GCs that are quite successful.

While a general contractor isn’t required to obtain specific educational qualifications, those with a bachelor’s degree in construction management, construction science or civil engineering have the best job prospects. Most GCs start out in a related occupation such as masonry or carpentry before moving into general contracting; many eventually set up on their own as self-employed GCs. It’s not uncommon for a GC to hold an industry-recognized certification, such as Certified Construction Manager, Associate Constructor or Certified Professional Constructor, which can further their career prospects.

The responsibilities of a general contractor include planning the work, writing contracts, managing a schedule, collaborating with architects, engineers and other construction specialists and liaising with the property owner. They also make sure that the site and final project comply with all legal requirements and building codes.

A GC is also responsible for the overall supply of raw materials and building components needed to complete the construction project on time. They often appoint a team of professionals to handle the intricacies of vendor management including sourcing, capacities, quality work, turnaround times, invoicing and timely payment.

Because a general contractor works on a long-term basis, they typically receive a percentage of the project’s total cost rather than charging an hourly rate. They may also choose to negotiate a payment structure with the client to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the arrangement.