A construction or repair project can be complex depending on its scope or the type of project. Some common issues in such projects include inadequate risk management, limited resources, poor communication with subcontractors, lack of structure, injuries on construction sites, and delayed cash flow. 

Hiring an experienced general contractor for the construction or repair project can make your life easier, as they can handle the project timeline, budget constraints, resource allocation, and other aspects. They can also handle the hiring of subcontractors depending on the requirements of your project. On this page, you will find an overview of a general contractor’s job description and responsibilities and the difference between a general contractor and a subcontractor. 

What is a General Contractor?

A general contractor is responsible for the overall coordination of a project and can be hired for commercial or residential projects. However, minor construction or repair projects might not require the services of a general contractor. 

A general contractor is typically involved in projects that are larger in scope, involve multiple resources, and require coordination throughout different phases of the project. A general contractor could be an individual or a company that takes on the responsibility of the project. 

Any delays in the completion of the construction project or communications with the vendors or subcontractors are typically handled by the general contractor. In some cases, the general contractor is the primary contact for the property owner. In other cases, the general contractor would report to the construction manager, who is responsible for the entire project and is the primary contact of the property owner. For a design-build project, the general contractor would handle the design and construction of the project, whereas, in a design-bid-build project, they would only handle the construction after the architect has completed the design.

What Does a General Contractor Do?

The following are some of the primary responsibilities of a general contractor: 

  • Responsible for completing the construction or repair project according to the project timeline, design, and budget. 
  • Handle communications with vendors, workers, material suppliers, and other types of resources. 
  • Survey the construction site regularly to identify and fix any issues that need attention. 
  • Hire and manage sub-contractors. 
  • In design-build projects, the general contractor ensures that the architect finalizes the design based on the agreed-upon budget and timeframe.  
  • Responsible for creating and managing the project schedule and having all the subcontractors follow the schedule. 
  • The contractor ensures the safety of everyone working on the project, including informing them of any potential safety hazards in the construction project. 
  • Supervise the operation of equipment to prevent any misuse or injury. 
  • Licensing and renting equipment.
  • After the project is complete, the general contractor collects lien waivers and ensures all subcontractors are paid on time. 

The Difference Between a General Contractor and Subcontractor

The owners of the project would hire a general contractor, who in turn would hire subcontractors. The general contractor is typically responsible for supervising multiple resources at the construction site and is a single source of communication with the property owner. 

In contrast, a subcontractor is a company or individual that performs a part of the project. Typically, the general contractor hires several subcontractors for a construction project. A company or individual can be a general contractor on one project and a subcontractor on another. 

The general contractor is responsible for the day-to-day activities at the construction site, from groundbreaking to project completion. On the other hand, subcontractors are responsible for their specific job, such as the installation or removal of items, while a general contractor has a larger scope of responsibilities. 

In some cases, the general contractor can be the prime contractor who holds the contract for the construction project. The owner pays the general contractor, who further processes the payment of subcontractors.

License Requirements & Qualifications for General Contractors in Pennsylvania 

In some states, it is required by law that all general contractors must be licensed. A licensed general contractor must comply with all state tax, insurance, and safety requirements. The licensing requirement can differ due to the jurisdiction of the state or city. For instance, in Pennsylvania, general contractors do not require a state license to work.  

However, professional licenses add to the general contractor’s credibility and help them land high-profile projects. If you need to hire a general contractor, consider asking them about their licenses and permits. You can also ask them to share customer testimonials and reviews. 

In some cases, a general contractor without a license cannot protect their lien rights and could face multiple penalties. In addition, general contractors might also need to handle the legal aspects of construction projects, which require the contractor to have applicable permits and licenses. 
Robert Major Construction Corp recommends that you do some research before hiring a general contractor to ensure a good fit with your project. It might be worth talking to their previous customers or visiting their completed projects to get a better understanding of what to expect from them. Discussing the project schedule, budget, and other expectations with the general contractor will help minimize any misunderstandings after the project has begun.


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