What Is a General Contractor?
Whether you are planning a custom remodel on your home or building a new house from the ground up, there are many benefits to hiring a general contractor. Before you put your forever home in this person’s hands, make sure you understand, what is a general contractor? More importantly, what can they do to make the building process smooth and successful? Learn more about a general contractor’s on-site duties and how you can benefit from their expertise.
What Is a General Contractor?
In the construction industry, a general contractor typically specializes in residential or commercial work. They oversee and manage all aspects of the building process, including hiring the appropriate experts in related fields, such as electrical and plumbing. Most general contractors are business owners.
Third-party investors, typically real estate developers or private property owners, hire them to provide all the professional services needed to build a structure from the ground up. These contractors even handle all the permitting requirements in compliance with the state and local government.
The work general contractors do can be strenuous and stressful. The purpose of their job is to apply their expertise to the vision you have for your home. Sometimes unavoidable delays can strain the relationship. However, a seasoned contractor understands and expects these issues and knows how to manage them.
What Does a General Contractor Do On the Job?
Many general contractors have specific areas of expertise they developed while gaining the work experience they needed to apply for licensing. For example, some may start out working in heating and cooling services or plumbing. The position is conducive to career shifts.
What is a general contractor with respect to the job site? They may work on everything from roofing and flooring to painting and woodworking. Most contractors hire people from different fields to create a staff that can handle new construction, renovation, and remodeling in house.
If your build requires additional services, your contractor can also bring in third-party professionals. For example, they could hire an electrical contractor or HVAC specialist for a new custom build.
Insurance Requirements for a General Contractor
Because most general contractors are business owners, they have specific insurance requirements they must meet before working on a project. These policies help protect you, the contractor’s team, and the contractor from liability issues should any person or property suffer damages on the job. Common insurance policies held by general contractors include:
- Workers’ compensation: Any contractor with staff must carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect them and their employees in the event of an accident resulting in injury.
- Commercial general liability insurance: This covers claims made by a third party against the contractor’s business for injury or property damage.
- Liability auto insurance: If the contractor’s business has work vehicles, they need a minimum of liability coverage.
They must also provide proof of insurance as part of the licensing application process.
What Should You Look for in a General Contractor?
Before you accept a bid from a general contractor, there are a few factors you want to consider to ensure you hire someone qualified. Basic qualifications and points to look for include:
- The insurance requirements for a general contractor in the Monterey County area
- The necessary permits to build in your area
- Testimonies from previous clients showing satisfaction with their work
- Proof of relevant experience
- Proof of a state-issued general contractor license
During the vetting process, you should ask questions specific to your project to ensure the contractor is the right person for the job. First, allow them to do a walkthrough of the home or build site. Discuss your needs and then inquire about their abilities. Some questions to consider include:
- Have you ever worked on a similar project?
- How long have you had your license?
- How long has your company been in business?
- Do you have the required permits for a job like this?
- Can you provide a list of references?
- How long do you expect this project to take from start to completion?
You can also ask for proof of licensing, insurance, and permits. Working with a contractor is about building a strong business relationship. You want to ensure you can trust them with your project.
Are General Contractors and Construction Managers the Same?
Primary players in any construction job include the general contractor and construction manager. What is a general contractor, and how do they differ from a construction manager? Many of their job requirements overlap. However, they have some significant differences.
Similar Duties of a General Contractor or Construction Manager
On the surface, the positions of general contractor and construction manager are very similar. Some job duties they often share include:
- Managing the day-to-day activities at the job site
- Taking on project management
- Coordinating the work of subcontractors
- Serving as a point of communication among workers, the property owner, and the architect
- Guiding the budget for the project
However, the significant differences are in the financial aspect of the job. With either, you have a construction expert to guide you through the process, making the process less painless for you.
Differences in Payment Method and Budgeting
The primary difference between the two positions lies in the nature of their relationships with the owner. For example, a construction manager works with you to develop the budget in the early stages of construction. A general contractor’s budget is based on the accepted total they presented during the bidding process for the job.
The construction manager receives payment through a fee negotiated at the beginning of the project, with any savings going back to your budget. A general contractor keeps any savings as additional profit.
What Is a General Contractor Going To Do for You?
Whether you are remodeling or building a custom home, general contractors manage every aspect of your construction project from start to finish. They provide a budget estimate and do their best to make your dream home to your exact specifications, from materials to measurements.
You will spend a significant amount of time going through important decisions with your contractor. Therefore, you want to put in the work and choose one who will do the job right. To find out more about what is a general contractor and how to hire one for your home project, contact Kasavan Construction today.