What is a General Contractor?
A general contractor is an individual or company who is responsible for the day-to-day operations and oversight of a construction site. In addition to these functions a general contractor will also manage the transactions involved in the site, primarily trades and deals with vendors.
A contractor is responsible for communicating with the owner of the site, the design team who constructed the plans for the building and the employees on site. The most fundamental role of the contractor; however is to create contracts through price evaluations of the project.
Before starting a construction project, a contractor must visit and assess the construction site. Upon evaluating the piece of property, the contractor will formulate a price, referred to as an estimate. The contractors will then evaluate the cost of all materials, equipment, as well as the cost of labor. After analyzing the expected cost of the project, the contractor will provide the owner of the building with an approximate price for the construction process. Once the cost has been estimated, the contractor will meet with the owner and draw up contracts with the individual or company.
The contract, when affirmed, will initiate the building of the project. To become a legally binding agreement; however, the owner of the project must agree to the estimated cost delivered by the contractor. Through this price, the budget and the subsequent materials, design and workers are established.
A contractor is also responsible for providing the construction companies and the individual workers with all material, including labor, equipment and those services necessary for the construction of the project. In order to accomplish these tasks, the contractor will incorporate specialized subcontractors to perform specialized tasks or portions of the construction process.
Requirements for a Contractor License:
As a result of the aforementioned functions and the complexities revolving around a construction project, all contractors must obtain a license. To receive a contractor license, there are no educational requirements; however, the majority of employers will prefer a candidate with a bachelor’s degree. The majority of general contractors obtain college degrees in building science, construction science, construction safety, surveying and other majors aligned with a construction project.
The majority of contractors start out as ordinary construction workers. While working at the site, they will learn different aspects of the construction process, such as framing, carpentry, masonry and plumbing. These individuals will then network with subcontractors to learn the management side of the business.
The contractor license and the coordinating requirements will vary based on state. In some states the contractor license will require passing a written exam revolving around construction law and contracting, while other states will require a bachelor’s degree to even begin the licensing process. Currently, Florida and Utah are the only two states that require an individual to have six continuing education credits to maintain a contractor license—this requirement protects the public from fraud and safety issues.
The most fundamental requirement of a contractor license revolves around experience and references from business partners, former employees or customers. For a general contractor, because these individuals typically run their own business, a state will typically require the individual to prove a source of finance.