What does a general contractor do? Simply put, a general contractor is the professional responsible for the overall coordination and execution of a construction project. They are responsible for the planning, execution, and supervision of the work, hiring and managing the various trades and subcontractors required for a construction project, and are typically employed by the business owner or homeowner.
In this blog post, we’ll break down the roles and responsibilities of a general contractor, explain when you should hire a general contractor for your project, and detail how hiring the right general contractor is the most important factor in determining the success of your construction or renovation project.
A general contractor is a construction industry professional responsible for the planning and execution of a construction project, including coordinating and overseeing all labour, site logistics, subcontractors, and consultants. They are also responsible for ordering and delivering materials for a project, providing the necessary resources, ensuring that all safety measures are met during the construction project and that all work complies with building codes and local regulations. Essentially, your general contractor is responsible for overseeing and directing a project to ensure it is on budget and completed within the agreed-upon timeframe. This could also include coordinating the designs of the initial plans or obtaining permits from local municipalities and governing bodies depending on the scope of the job. With their many years of experience and expertise, the right general contractor will ensure that everything on your project runs like clockwork and that your project is successful.
A general contractor can provide various services depending on the scope of the construction or renovation project. This could include pre-construction services such as estimating costs and budgeting, planning and preparing project schedules, coordinating the designs and blueprints, obtaining permits, scheduling and managing trade workers and subcontractors, coordinating materials, ensuring quality control standards, and supervising the overall construction process. Depending on if they are working on a residential or commercial project, here are some of the main construction projects they may work on include:
• Full Home Interior and Exterior Remodels
• Commercial Building Construction
• Restaurant Renovations
• Retail Construction and Renovations
• Luxury Home Building
• Interior Fit-Outs
Hiring a general contractor can be incredibly beneficial when undertaking a major construction project. It can save time, money, and stress because the responsibility to oversee each aspect of the project is shifted from the business owner or homeowner to a reputable and licensed general contractor. Experienced general contractors have the expertise and resources to complete a construction or renovation project efficiently, helping to avoid costly delays and mistakes. They can also leverage their industry connections and discounts with vendors to obtain quality supplies or services at a fraction of the cost. Some contractors will provide additional value-added services such as design coordination and building permit applications, all while ensuring that each aspect of your project meets current building codes and regulations, and is executed according to plan.
Hiring the right general contractor for your project can greatly ease the stresses of a renovation or building project. A large-scale home renovation project, for example, requires a number of construction trades and professionals such as interior designers, millworkers, plumbers, electricians, painters, and so many more tradespeople. If you were to take on the coordination of your project yourself, you would need to individually find competent tradespeople and contractors yourself, then manage them and their work, along with the unexpected events throughout the project, all the while making sure that quality standards are met and safety regulations and building codes are followed. Essentially, you would be your own general contractor, but without the experience or connections! Without question, stepping into this role can be very stressful, even for a smaller project. Hiring the right general contractor means you can pass these responsibilities to an industry professional who is capable and experienced, will ensure your project runs efficiently, and that all work is completed to the highest of standards.
With all that said, these are the top three benefits you can expect in hiring a general contractor:
• Save time and money: an experienced and reputable general contractor can steer you clear of unnecessary costs and delays
• Receive a higher-quality end product: the best general contractors leverage their industry connections to obtain high-quality materials and skilled, tradespeople at a fraction of the cost
• Get value-added services: these services often include, building permit procurement and design coordination. These are the stages of a project that often require the most time, attention, and detail to ensure the rest of your project proceeds smoothly.
As a general rule, if your project requires the work of more than one specific trade, you will likely need a general contractor.
Why? Because a general contractor, like the conductor of an orchestra, ensures that every person is playing the role they should play, in cohesion with everyone else and at the right time. Having a general contractor act as a conductor on your project will show itself in your project’s final outcome, just as it does in a piece of music. A large-scale renovation or commercial build requires, at the very least, 15 to 20 different types of subcontractors, and 50 individual tradespeople completing the work. You need an experienced and skilled conductor to ensure all of the musicians are doing what they need to do when you need them to do it.
A project that requires multiple tradespeople is also likely more complex, and ensuring the best outcomes, will require the expertise of an industry professional. For this reason, the scope of your project will often determine if you need to hire a general contractor.
You’ve probably heard the general term “contractor” quite a bit when someone is referring to their commercial or residential construction project. Are they referring to the general contractor that they’ve hired to execute their construction project, or to the subcontractor that is tiling their floors?
There are some fundamental distinctions between a general contractor and a subcontractor. A general contractor essentially plays the role of a construction project manager, overseeing all aspects of the work and coordinating the efforts of other skilled tradespeople that are hired and managed to complete specific tasks. These skilled tradespeople, known as subcontractors, are responsible for conducting their assigned portion of the project but rely on the general contractor to provide the materials, equipment, and guidance needed to complete the scope of the project.
One of the best ways to tell that your general contractor is legitimate is by verifying their credentials, including asking whether they have their necessary licenses, registrations, and insurance coverage. To confirm a general contractor’s answer, you can also check with the municipality where they work to ensure they are licensed. To do some extra digging, you can check out organizations such as the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any outstanding complaints against the general contractor you are looking into. If a general contractor you are looking into refuses to provide you with any of these important details, consider that a huge red flag!
In addition, the insights of a general contractor’s previous clients can be very helpful. Be sure to check out their reviews and ratings online for clues about how knowledgeable and reliable they are, and what their past clients are saying about them (you’ll know a fake review when you see one!). Finally, consider getting an estimate of the project cost - it might be a red flag if the general contractor offers a quote that significantly differs from others in your area, or refuses to provide you with a detailed breakdown of your project. Fortunately, most general contractors typically provide free consultations, so consider taking advantage of this offering to compare estimates and determine who would be a good fit for you and your project.
Ultimately, communication and good working relationships are critical to the success of any construction or renovation project. Hiring a general contractor that communicates well and is transparent and clear with you on your project’s requirements, budgets, milestones and deliverables will ensure your project is completed successfully - not to mention timely, happily, and headache-free!
There is no question that general contractors play an integral role in the success of any residential or commercial build project. They are responsible for the overall coordination and completion of a project and ensure that subcontractors perform high-quality and timely work. To ensure that your general contractor is legitimate, it is essential to verify their credentials, research their previous work, and meet with them to see if they are a good fit for your project!
Article by Selman Nasir, Founder of Odera Construction Group
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If you are looking for a general contractor for your custom home, commercial, or residential construction project, it would be our pleasure to help. Our team is based in Oakville and serves the Greater Toronto Area, including but not limited to Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Etobicoke, and Toronto. You can check us out online to learn more about our services or to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation: Contact us today, and we would be happy to help! You can also check out our resource pages below for more information on our services.
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Article by Selman Nasir, Founder of Odera Construction Group