What Is a General Contractor?

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General Contractor

What Is a General Contractor?

All construction projects need someone who is totally responsible for all aspects of the job, no matter how big or small.  A high rise condo in Manhattan will need the services of a general contractor just as the family buying one of the new condos may be need a general contractor to make customized changes to their kitchen a year later.

The general contractor is responsible for managing the entire job from start to finish.  He will be the one to provide the estimate or bid, and he will be the one to find the materials, hire subcontractors, lease vehicles (trucks, cranes, backhoes, etc.) and maintain all accounting and personnel records.  He will also be the one who has accepted total liability for the project at hand.

A general contractor is an expert in his field.  He might be a specialist in residential dwellings, roadways and bridges, or large commercial projectssuch as office buildings.  He is intimately familiar with all the projects his subcontractors will be completing as well, meaning he has to understand plumbing, electric, cabinetry, flooring, roofing, foundations, landscaping, and framing, and be up to date with all code regulations.

He may or may not “get his hands dirty” during the project.  For smaller projects he may very well be involved in the day to day labor needs such as kitchen or bath remodeling.  For larger projects such as a complete gutting of perhaps a 10 store office building, and then the redesign and rebuilding of the same, he may need to limit his involvement to actual management activities.

There will always be a lengthy detailed contract in place between the general contractor and the person who hired him, usually the home owner or developer.   The contract will specify everything from the pricing to the deadline date.  He, in turn, will (or should) have contracts in place with his subcontractors which outline the same information.

As a homeowner who might be looking at a sizeable remodeling project, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced general contractor to manage the entire process.  Unless you are an expert in home remodeling costs and details, you could find yourself in a situation where you have too many people on site, doing too little, accomplishing nothing, for too much money.

A “simple” kitchen remodeling of a 15’ x 20’ kitchen space could easily need the services of cabinet and countertop installers, flooring installers, tile professionals, plumbers, window installers, and electricians.  A general contractor can pull this all together, coordinate with the various companies, and make sure everything is happening on time and on budget.

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