If you've never tackled a construction or engineering project, you may feel a little fuzzy in your understanding of what a general contractor, or GC, does. They function as the main contractor on a job, helping to coordinate the mixture of subcontractors and stakeholders who may be part of the effort. Here's a quick dive into some of the things a general contractor will help you handle.
Turning Ideas Into Action
At the start of a project, there's a good chance you'll work with a designer or an architect. It's also common to bring on engineers who can assess things like how well the ground at a site will support a structure. These folks will help you bring your vision for the job in focus. Plans will eventually be turned into something tangible, such as blueprints and models. It's at this point that a general contractor will be asked to join the project.
The contractor will meet with you and the designers, architects, and engineers to get a sense of what the challenges presented by the effort are likely to be. For example, an engineer and an architect might agree that a particular set of materials have to be used to construct the main support beams for a house. They'll provide the necessary specs for the materials and the beams to the GC so they understand the limits of what would be acceptable. A GC will then use this information to get started.
Hiring and Coordination
Many tasks at a construction or remodeling site are likely to be handled by subcontractors, and that means dealing with hiring them. Your general contractor will usually have a list of local folks they're comfortable working with, and they'll also know which companies and professionals have the resources required to tackle jobs of different sizes.
At this point, a GC also becomes something of a traffic cop. For example, you don't want to have materials sitting around, especially if they won't hold up well in bad weather. If you need to have wood delivered to put in decking for a roof, that delivery should be set up a few days before the roofers come in.
Once a project winds down, there also needs to be accountability. A general contractor will develop a punch list, a list of items that either still have to be finished or that require revision. The contractor and all the stakeholders will then review the list to confirm that the project is completed.