A general contractor oversees a variety of construction projects. Normally, the contractor is called in when someone wants to create a new building for business or residential purposes; however, contractors may also work in remodeling and renovation of existing structures as well. The general contractor assesses the work to be done and directs various construction crews to accomplish these tasks.
One of the chief skills of a general contractor is an ability to accurately estimate the costs of work to be done, taking into account, time, labor, and materials. Accuracy in bidding these estimates to potential customers is essential. The contractor then works with architects or designers to discern specifications for the project. Finally, the contractor assigns his or her construction teams to execute the building or renovations to be performed. In some cases, the general contractor may bring in sub-contractors to perform specialized tasks such as carpentry, electrical, or roofing work. Throughout all of these processes, however, the general contractor must perform inspections of the work being performed, assess the methods used by workers, and ensure work proceeds in line with agreed-upon specifications.
Many general contractors begin their careers as part of construction and building crews. While technical school degrees in construction, carpentry or a related field may be useful, work experience is valuable in this field. General contractors work in a variety of environments, both indoors and outdoors. In some areas of the country, their work may be seasonal and weather-dependent, although many contractors adjust scheduling so that indoor work is performed when the climate prohibits outdoor work.
General Contractor Tasks
- Generate cost estimates for labor, materials, equipment, and permits necessary to complete a project.
- Plan and manage a construction project, coordinating labor, materials, and equipment, hire and supervise subcontractors.
- Make sure all government regulations are followed, proper permits are obtained, and required inspections carried out.
- Monitor project progress to ensure it stays on time and within budget.
- Negotiate contract terms with clients and work with clients and architects to create project plans.