What is a General Contractor?

Clare Louise

While the term is often used interchangeably with the word handyman, a general contractor is  typically more experienced with large jobs, major systems such as electrical and HVAC, and they often have a team of workers to assist them with jobs onsite.

In certain regions, they are called main contractors or prime contractors, and they deal with the bulk of day-to-day onsite preparations, oversight, communications and dealing with vendors of supplies and other entities as needed for projects.

General Contractor Responsibilities

General contractors essentially hold responsibility for the entire job site, their workers, job site safety, equipment, materials and for ensuring accurate records and financials are kept.

Often, they subcontract out work to several people and companies, especially if they are running a sizable company and handling major projects.

When using subcontractors, the hiring contractor assumes liability for the work performed by these entities, which often include:

  • Masons
  • Carpenters
  • Framers
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC Specialists
  • Handymen
  • Roofers

A general contractor may also employ accountants, lawyers, architects and other types of builders for specialty projects.

General Contractor Licensing and Permits

As with most construction work, permits must be applied for and obtained, and contractors are expected to handle these tasks the majority of the time.

This may require working with various permitting offices, utility companies, land surveyors, engineers and others to cover everything required for the full scope of the project.

General contractors are not required by federal law to have any type of licensing, but states almost always have some type of restrictions in place in addition to requirements that must be met.

That being said, a general contractor often begins their career working in the construction industry, so they may have proper licensing in place already. However, if they plan to operate a business, they will need to get information concerning state requirements.

 

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