General Contractor Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A General Contractor, or Construction Contractor, oversees all aspects of a construction project from start to finish. Their main duties include hiring and training Subcontractors, applying for the necessary licenses and building permits and providing hands-on supervision and guidance to workers on the site.

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General Contractor Duties and Responsibilities

The General Contractor has a wide range of duties and is uniquely responsible for the entire build. A few duties a General Contractor may be responsible for include:

  • Keep the project on the appropriate timeline. Delays can cause finance issues or result in unfortunate weather timing if the build is spanning multiple seasons. The General Contractor is directly responsible for ensuring a quality build within the quoted timeframe.
  • Manage subcontractors and labor related to the job. Skilled laborers will often need to complete portions of the project, including plumbing, electrical and carpentry. While the General Contractor may have the appropriate certifications in some of these areas, and may take on some of the work, it could be necessary to hire others to complete the project.
  • Order materials related to the build and work with the vendors to ensure the correct deliveries are taking place according to the timeline. A delay in any key element can cause the entire project to sit idle while waiting for its arrival. The General Contractor will be in constant contact with wholesalers and supply stores in order to properly stock the site.
  •  Communicate status of the project throughout the build with the client and other pertinent parties. 

What Does a General Contractor Do?

General Contractors work for construction or development companies organizing and implementing construction projects for certain properties. They often arrive at the construction site each day to help the employees complete tasks and to ensure everyone follows proper safety guidelines. General Contractors may also be responsible for staying within a strict budget for hiring employees and purchasing construction materials. 

They also act as the main point of contact between the client and Construction Workers. If the client has important updates about their goals or needs for the project, the General Contractor communicates these preferences to their crew.

General Contractor Skills and Qualifications

The General Contractor is in contact with the project from the initial planning stages through completion. They must be able to maneuver through the entire process, working with all parties and ensuring timely completion. Some helpful skills include:

  • Building skills: A General Contractor is best equipped with some building skills, whether carpentry, electrical, plumbing or roofing. This enables them to perform the work while overseeing the project at the same time.
  • Communication skills: As the contact between the project and the client, the General Contractor should be adept at communicating. Email, text, phone calls and face-to-face communication should be professional and appropriate. The individual in this role should be able to deliver bad news while highlighting the positive and sharing progress.
  • Multitasking: The General Contractor is the lead of the project and will have to maneuver the work at hand while also fielding calls and emails from related parties. They should be able to function efficiently while completing more than one task at a time.
  • Problem solving skills: While working on a construction project, there will be unexpected issues. People may get hurt or deliveries could be delayed. A General Contractor must take action in these situations, whether they need to assist with a first aid kit or they have to cancel a contract with a vendor and reorder supplies to keep the project on schedule. Resolving problems is a key piece of this role.

General Contractor Salary Expectations

The average salary for General Contractors is $72,781 per year. This figure can be lower based on geographical region, the years of experience the General Contractor has accumulated and the project contracted. If a contractor identifies as a Residential Contractor, the pay can also differ as these projects are not always on the same scope as commercial projects.

General Contractor Education and Training Requirements

Many larger companies require a bachelors degree in construction science but a formal education is not always necessary to become a General Contractor. To become licensed as a General Contractor, a formal exam must be passed. Some locations require proof of financial solidity, references from previous clients, employers and associates and a set level of insurance prior to licensure approval.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

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Frequently asked questions General Contractors

 

What makes a good General Contractor?

A great General Contractor should be an effective leader, as they’re in charge of many Construction Workers on site. They must be effective at motivating their team and providing guidance for how to properly build certain structures, so strong experience as a Construction Worker is usually preferred. 

General Contractors should also have an impressive attention to detail to ensure the structure has all of the design and construction elements needed for a stable and secure final product. They should also be able to quickly respond to unexpected issues, like emergencies, that may occur on site and should make fast, logical decisions. 

 

Do General Contractors have different responsibilities in different industries?

General Contractors usually hold similar responsibilities of overseeing the construction project implementation and management process. Some of them work for a specific commercial company, regularly building and managing the construction of different kinds of structures. 

Others may work solely for a specific organization, like a residential company, regularly constructing houses or apartment buildings. Some are self-employed, as they independently travel and work on a wide variety of projects for different companies. 

 

Who reports to a General Contractor?

Since the General Contractor typically serves in a management role, they may have several Subcontractors and Construction Workers who report directly to them. The General Contractor usually builds schedules for these employees and delegates tasks to certain workers based on their skills and expertise. 

If an employee has questions or concerns about their responsibilities or need help solving complex problems on the job, the General Contractor provides their guidance and advice. When workers finish a certain job duty, the General Contractor typically inspects the quality of work and provides the employee with their feedback or suggestions for improvement. 

 

What's the difference between a General Contractor and a Construction Manager?

Though they both handle managing the construction process of a project, a General Contractor and Construction Manager hold different responsibilities. A General Contractor provides hands-on guidance and support to their team members and spends a majority of their time on site managing the construction process. 

The Construction Manager handles more of the big-picture items of the construction process by working with the Architect or company owner to brainstorm designs and ensure their needs and preferences are realistic for the crew to complete. They usually work more in an office environment, communicating project goals and updates to the General Contractor, who implements these designs and preferences by delegating necessary tasks to their team.

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