Construction is a big word and also significant work. It involves several activities that are impossible to handle by a single person or party. It requires several entities from different sectors to have expertise in different segments. All these parties come together to build a project in time and budget.
A project is like a play; every character has a role. The protagonist of the play is the general contractor. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a contractor is essential before initiating any project or stepping into the construction industry.
Read through till the end to find answers to questions like, 'Who is the general contractor?' and 'What is the role of a general contractor in a construction project?'.
Who is the General Contractor?
While renovating or repairing our houses, we call up agencies for specific works like electricity, plumbing, painting, etc. As the work is more minor in scale, handling different parties responsible for various works is manageable. When these works are magnified on vast scales in projects, it becomes a tedious and unmanageable job to take other parties altogether.
This is where the general contractor comes into the picture. General contractors manage worksites, vendors and suppliers, material, sub-contractors, deadlines, quality, and many other work that will be discussed in the latter part of the blog.
By definition, a general contractor is "the person or organization hired by the client to carry out the work required to complete a project." In other words, "A general contractor is a party responsible for overseeing a construction project and who enters into the prime contract with the property owner."
Role of a General Contractor
After knowing the definition of the general contractor, it now turns to understand the roles and responsibilities the general contractor has in the construction project. A few essential roles of a general contractor are discussed in brief hereafter.
Planning and managing
Though the contractor's entry is at the execution phase, the daily planning and managing jobs like resource planning, operating schedule and cost baselines, etc., fall under the scope of the contractor.
Managing the resource requirements and process of the project, along with activities like keeping inventories, booking progress updates, payment of vendors and subcontractors, testing and inspection schedules, etc., are essential activities carried out by the general contractor of the project.
Manage daily Jobsite operations
The daily activities of construction and building are to be managed by the general contractor. Ensuring all tasks are on track, including the works of the sub-contractor, and managing the safety and cleanliness of the worksite are responsibilities of the general contractor.
Sometimes, the responsibility includes obtaining the approvals and permits from the concerned authorities, providing premise security, arranging temporary facilities, managing generated waste, and site cleaning.
Provide required equipment and building materials
Based on the contracting terms, generally, the contractor is responsible for providing all the building material and equipment needed to run the project. The contractor's responsibility is to verify the vendors and ensure the quality of the material coming to the construction sites.
The responsibility also includes that all the materials should reach the site on time and are of desired quality while keeping in mind the client's expectations and the project budget. If under-quality materials are supplied, the general contractor must check and exchange them.
Coordinating subcontractors, consultants, and vendors
Many specialized sub-contractors are appointed on the site to carry out specific works. Also, different design consultants are involved, along with vendors and suppliers of other building materials and equipment used on sites. All these parties are managed and coordinated by the project's general contractor.
Passing on the essential messages and information from the employer to the subcontractors, consultants, and vendors is also the work done by the project's general contractor. The contractor's role is to maintain coordination and sequence between these parties and their job in the construction project.
Oversee quality, timeline, and budget
At all times in the project, the general contractor should maintain the required quality of the project within the limits of time and budget set by the client. The contractor should minimize any time or cost overruns and ensure the optimized value in the given cost.
Manage health, safety, and legal issues
The contractor must guarantee the health and safety of the job site workers on the construction site by implementing required drills and procedures and raising awareness. The contractor is also responsible for preventing any accidents from misusing the construction machinery and equipment.
It is the responsibility of the contractor to acquire the necessary licenses and permits from the regulatory authorities before the start of the project. Also, the contractor has to ensure that no legal rights are challenged and the processes follow the building codes applicably.
The main point of contact with the employer/client
A general contractor is the primary source of communication between the client and the other parties involved in the construction. It is in the contractor's scope of responsibility to pass on correct information from clients to the subcontractors and vendors and update the client with the project progress on a timely basis.
In this communication chain, the contractor has to document every change and conversation between the client and the different parties involved in the project.
Be it the general contractor or any other project stakeholder, it is imperative to define roles and understand them clearly before initiating any projects in the field of construction. As the general contractor, loads of responsibilities are on the shoulder, which should be carefully related to project success.
Every construction project is a unique endeavor. So, defining the specific and crisp role of the general contractor can be questionable as they provide multi-functional services that can vary with the project based on the contract and scope of work. However, in a nutshell, the primary role remains the same while the digital transformations have paved the way for new approaches to the contractor's duties.
Feeling stuck while dealing with such a huge network in the field of construction? Read the detailed blog on Construction industry—An Overview to develop your team’s strength with industry insights.
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