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Do you have a large construction project coming up?

If you do, you are probably wondering which kind of professionals you need on your team, and you may have had some confusion about ‘construction managers’ and ‘general contractors’. Who are they and which of the two do you need?

What is a Construction Manager?

Construction management is a more collaborative partnership than general contracting. Construction managers are more involved with the planning process of the project.

In General Contracting, the construction company submits a competitive bid and subsequently completes a project for the stipulated price. Any money that is saved throughout the process becomes more revenue for the general contractor.

With construction management, the building company collaborates with the client from the very beginning to provide guidance and create a project budget. The owner chooses their preferred options, and the construction manager implements the project in accordance with the budget and for the agreed-upon cost. Savings are transferred back into the owner’s budget.

Construction managers usually work on smaller residential projects.

Main Roles of a Construction Manager

Here is what you should expect from your construction manager:

Budget Management

The construction manager is usually involved earlier in the project. They help with structuring the budget and recommending options that will serve you best, while costing you less. They are great for smaller projects, where little to no profit is expected because they help you get the cheapest options.

Schedule Management

Construction managers are responsible for ensuring that all planned activities happen according to the stipulated schedule. They also make sure that all subcontractors are equipped to handle the tasks they are assigned.

What is a General Contractor?

Usually, the General Contractor is the business in charge of all daily operations at the jobsite. They get their hands dirty with the details of construction, overseeing all activities of the actual process. General contractors employ their own personnel to fulfill the positions of project manager and construction superintendent.

Similarly, a general contractor will employ some of their own laborers and carpenters to “self-perform” a portion of the project’s work. But general contractors frequently use a range of specialized subcontractors who finish 80–90% of the work. The general contractor (GC) assumes the role of project manager, managing the work of the subcontractors and acting as the point of contact regarding project activities for the owner or architect.

Most of the time, general contractors are employed on lump sum or stipulated sum contracts. In this method, the project owner invites the general contractor to submit a bid or estimate for the entire project. The general contractor will examine and evaluate the project’s designs, needs, and scope of work.

The general contractor will then gather bids from many qualified, specialized subcontractors, factor in their own overhead expenses, and submit a quote. Then, for that sum, the general contractor is required to deliver the project as agreed. Any savings made turn into more revenue for the general contractor.

Main Roles of a General Contractor

Here is what you should expect from your general contractor:

Project Planning

Every construction project has a master schedule including all tasks, their allotted time, and the anticipated cost. A general contractor’s main responsibility is to create this project plan with the goal of completing it on schedule.

The contractor is responsible for developing and adhering to a construction project budget. The project budget is a useful tool for contractors to keep track of their costs. They are able to identify waste and contrast their real spending with the suggested budget.

General Project Management

The general contractor is responsible for making sure every task is being performed on time, and by a qualified professional. They must ensure that everyone on the team has a general idea of the overall goals, and perfect mastery of their individual goals.

They need to be on site, physically managing the project and overseeing the tasks. They are your eyes on the ground, ensuring everything is going as expected. They are also responsible for finding solutions to any issues that may arise.

Progress Tracking

Progress tracking is required to finish the construction project according to contract terms and recommended timelines. During a typical building process, a contractor is responsible for tracking progress and dealing with any significant changes that would affect the timings.

When making decisions, they must keep the project’s scope, budget, and timeline in mind. They must also keep you informed about any challenges and recommend any major adjustments as per their professional opinion.

Health and Safety at the Construction Site

Since the general contractor is expected to be hands-on, it is also their responsibility to make sure the site is safe. They must make sure that they have all the right safety measures in place to avoid accidents and the creation of other hazards. They are also responsible for training workers on safety regulations. They must also ensure correct equipment operation and maintenance to prevent any accidents caused by misapplication.

Legal Compliance

One of the main reasons general contractors are best for large scale projects is their legal function. General contractors are equipped to handle a multitude of duties when it comes to legal and regulatory issues. Before beginning the project, they must secure the necessary work permits and licenses, as well as a review of what is and isn’t allowed by local law. The entire construction process must be compliant with local laws and building requirements.

A general contractor is in charge of overseeing, planning, implementing, and inspecting larger-scale building projects. Their responsibility spans from the beginning to the end of the project.

General contractors’ responsibilities include organizing their work, supervising their staff, and making sure that all local laws and regulations are followed for the project to be finished smoothly. In addition, a general contractor will employ subcontractors for specialty projects like electrical installations and HVAC systems.

In summary, this is what is expected of a general contractor:

  • Planning all implementation details of the project development
  • Understanding the material and equipment specifications
  • Procuring the recommended materials and equipment
  • Ensuring all the required construction tools and equipment are available and finding appropriate alternatives for any that are unavailable
  • Shortlisting and selecting subcontractors for specialized tasks
  • Justifying intermediate payments and generated required reports
  • Ensuring quality control
  • Adopting cost-effective construction techniques
  • Ensuring a steady material supply
  • Scheduling purchases in advance
  • Ensuring steady flow of funds
  • Ensuring materials are available on-site when needed
  • Formulating risk mitigation strategies for potential changes
  • Fulfilling legal and regulatory concerns
  • Establishing effective communication among all project participants

What are the Main Differences?

What is the main difference between a construction manager and general contractor?

A construction manager is often an individual who is hired by a developer or even property owner to manage other hired contractors. Their main responsibility is to ensure that the expected standards of quality are met.

A general contractor is almost always a business or group of associates who enter a contractual agreement to build a defined project from start to finish. They are in charge of timely, quality construction of a project with a fixed lump sum budget. They also manage subcontractors but unlike construction managers, they can hire them, recommend others, and lay them off at their own discretion.

So, the first distinction is that general contractors are generally companies while construction managers are often individuals; at best, a group of people. General contractors therefore usually have more manpower and resources to manage larger-scale projects with bigger budgets.

Another distinction is that general contractors work with a predetermined amount of money to get a project done, while construction managers help the project owner to come up with the budget and even consult on which direction to take with the project.

General contractors are therefore better for developers who do not want to be too involved in the construction process. They are also excellent if a developer has little to no expertise in construction and would thus prefer professionals to handle the project and get it done as best as possible.

A general contractor is motivated to keep the project on, or below budget as much as possible. This goal is motivated by the fact that the general contractor gains more profits if the project is completed below budget. This allows the developer to stay within their long-term budget and prevent overspending. If the project expenses exceed the budget for unforeseen reasons, the general contractor will adjust the scope of the project, change the specifications, or request additional funds from the owner.

Why You Need a General Contractor

Do you have a major commercial construction project coming up? Then a general contractor is the person you need.

You want a professional who will manage all the fine details, read the fine print and do a fine job. You need an entity that will get your project done, while giving you peace of mind. Konrad Construction is the best choice for all your commercial construction needs.

At Konrad, we take a team-based problem-solving approach to every project, powered by a whatever-it-takes, always-finish-the-job, adapt-and-overcome, can-do attitude. So, let’s build a relationship – contact us for your free estimate.