What is the role of a general contractor in construction ?

Construction’ is a big word and also big work. It involves several activities which are impossible to be handled by a single person or party. It requires several entities from different sectors, having expertise in different segments. All these parties come together to build a project in the given time and budget. 


A project is like a play, every character has a role to play. The protagonist of the play is the general contractor. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a contractor is very 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 general contractor in a construction project?’. 


Who is the General Contractor?


While renovating or repairing our houses, we tend to call-up agencies for specific works like electricity, plumbing, painting, etc. As the work is smaller in scale, it is manageable to handle different parties responsible for different works. When these works are magnified on very large scales in projects, it becomes a tedious and unmanageable job to handle different 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 a lot of other work that will be discussed in the later part of the blog.


By definition, a general contractor is, “the person or organization hired by the client to carry out the work that is required for the completion of a project”. In other words, “A general contractor is a party with the responsibility to oversee 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, now it's turn to know roles and responsibilities the general contractor has in the construction project. Few basic roles of a general contractor are discussed in brief hereafter.


Planning and managing


Though the entry of the contractor is at the execution phase, the daily planning and managing jobs like, resource planning, managing schedule and cost baselines, etc. falls 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 on the worksite are responsibilities of the general contractor. 


The responsibility sometimes 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. It is the contractor's responsibility to verify the vendors and ensure the quality of the material coming on the construction sites.


The responsibility also includes that all the material should reach the site on time and are of desired quality, while keeping in mind the client expectations and the project budget. If under quality materials are supplied, the general contractor has to check and exchange it.


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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 different building materials and equipment used on sites. All these parties are managed and coordinated by the general contractor of the project.


To pass on the important messages and information from the employer to the subcontractors, consultants, and vendors is also the work done by the general contractor of the project. It is the contractors role to maintain coordination and sequence between these parties and their job in the construction project.


Oversee quality, timeline and budget


The general contractor, at all times in the project should maintain the required quality of the project within the limits of time and budget set by the client. The contractor should work to minimize any time or cost overruns, and should ensure the optimized value in the given cost.


Manage health, safety and legal issues


The contractor must guarantee health and safety of the jobsite workers on the construction site, through implementation of required drills and procedures, and raising awareness. The contractor is also responsible for preventing any accidents from misuse of the construction machinery and equipment.


It is the responsibility of the contractor to acquire 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 applicable.


Main point of contact with employer/client


A general contractor is the primary source of contact 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 chain of communication, 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 stakeholder of the project, it is immensely important to define roles and understand them clearly before initiating any projects. Being the general contractor, loads of responsibilities are on the shoulder, which should be carefully corresponded to for project success.

Every project is a unique endeavor. So, to define the specific and crisp role of the general contractor can be questionable as they provide multi-functional services that can vary with project, based on the contract and scope of work. However, in the nutshell the basic role remains the same while the digital transformations have paved a way for new approaches in the duties of the contractor. 

Hope this quick read was informative. Bulked with tones of responsibility? digiQC can oversee your quality management for the projects. This digital software-based solution is amongst the best practices that can be followed to ensure quality on the construction sites.

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