What General Contractors Do

A general contractor is a highly skilled construction management professional who oversees the various aspects of a building project. This includes but is not limited to structure design, construction methods, the budget, materials, scheduling, work team hiring and supervision (building crew, construction laborers, and subcontractors for specialized services).

General contractors are usually regarded as business owners; a provider of construction management services rather than a laborer. Even so, a general contractor with hands-on skills may help to complete certain aspects of a project from time to time.

A good general contractor often has their own work crew; an in-house team of handymen and specialty contractors.  But they may also hire renovation experts and occupation specific subcontractors. Such as architects, plumbers, electricians, cabinet makers, and masons.

A good general contractor will ensure the Association of General Contractors (AGC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other government regulations for job safety and health protection are met; as well as standards for environmental protection. In fact, effective job safety planning should be a top priority for every AGC general contractor sincere about the quality of construction management services provided.

Besides AGC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government standards and guidelines, general contractors must abide by state and local codes. A safety-minded AGC general contractor will also stay abreast of ever evolving OSHA requirements. The main thrust of OSHA is quality control, preservation of the environment, and effective job safety planning; for purposes of job safety and health protection.

In fact, OSHA coordinates with AGC and similar agencies, lobbying for better construction regulations for more effective job safety laws. And helps set the standard for job safety and health protection in the construction industry. By educating AGC general contractor members via effective job safety training seminars and construction site safety auditing.

general contractors

Individual states help unify efforts of OSHA, AGC, and similar associations for improved job safety planning and training programs. In Washington, for example, the Department of Labor and Industries operates the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). Defining safety and health standards and forming accident prevention programs for safer construction practices. A Seattle general contractor, therefore, would not only recognize and comply with OSHA standards; but DOSH, as well.

Through general contractor schooling, OSHA, AGC and similar agencies helping to foster effective job safety practices, job safety planning has become a highlighted facet of general contractors services. And why not, when the federal government considers construction site safety a major concern.A fact supported by 2006 data that reveals over 59% of all federal inspections performed by OSHA nationwide took place at construction work sites.

General Contractor Education Requirements

Although no set educational requirements for an aspiring general contractor exists, some type good general contractor schooling is recommended if he/she wishes to succeed in the industry. Schooling also helps provide the training necessary to pass the compulsory written test. Essential for obtaining a general contractor license; mandatory in every state.

In the very least, an aspiring general contractor should seek a combination of some type general contractor schooling and hands-on experience. An Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree from an accredited general contractor construction management program, for instance. Education that includes such courses as:

  • Construction technology
  • Methods of construction
  • Construction site safety
  • Math
  • Finances
  • Managing contractor contracts

Courses that teach good general contractor skills as students study such topics as:

  • Construction terminology
  • Good work ethics
  • Budgeting
  • Bidding
  • Hazards and job safety planning
  • Materials science
  • Project planning
  • Hiring
  • Working with a crew
  • and more

Construction management classes and other types of general contractor schooling should also provide the aspiring general contractor a working knowledge of construction related associations and agencies. Including the Association of General Contractors – AGC, ACI, OSHA, and others. Providing valuable construction and effective job safety orientation for the serious minded aspiring general contractor.

A bachelor’s degree in construction technology, construction management, civil engineering, or building science can greatly enhance a general contractors chance of career success. As well as better prepare for certification. Although typically preferred for an established general contractor managing large-scale projects, such a degree is not essential. Experience, skilled subcontractor connections, a level head and sharp eye for detail can be equally important.

In summary – an aspiring general contractor should be knowledgeable about various construction methods, job safety and health protection laws, effective job safety planning, mathematics, cost estimation, hiring, overseeing a work crew, and other aspects of construction management. Certified building and renovation experts; skilled at handling all phases of a construction project, from start to finish!

The General Contractor License

Most states require general contractors to posses a general contractor license, obtained after passing an exam. While a few states omit the need for a general contractor license, or require a general contractor license only under certain circumstances. For example, general contractors in Alabama must be licensed only when working on residential projects costing more than $10,000; in North Carolina, licenses are required for jobs exceeding $30,000.

General contractor license exam requirements may vary state to state. But exams are usually in the form of a written test comprised of questions pertaining to various aspects of construction. Including: techniques used by repairing building contractors, contracting, and various job safety and health protection laws.

As a rule aspiring general contractor candidates must be 18 or older to apply for a general contractor license. Other requirements for general contractors may include:

  • Proof of US citizenship or legal residency.
  • Certification of business licenses (for that state).
  • Passport-sized photos – usually 2.
  • Description of any violations, liens, or citations resulting from construction work.

A general contractor license is valid only in the state from which it was acquired. For instance, a Seattle general contractor with a Washington general contractor license could bid on a construction project in Boise. But he/she would have to obtain an Idaho general contractor license before beginning work in that state.

Combined with general contractor license requirements, general contractor schooling, job safety planning education, and high construction management standards, a favorable reputation can more easily be built. Enhancing the chance of greater success in the construction industry. Good news for every aspiring general contractor serious about the profession!

Note: an aspiring general contractor who accepts work without meeting general contractor license requirements can be fined; in some states, in the upwards of $1,000 per site, per day. In addition, the lack of a general contractor license may void legal protection. Even to collect funds promised in construction management contractor contracts.

Other General Contractor Requirements

Contractors insurance is another requirement. State mandates differ, but a general contractor is usually obliged to carry Workman’s Compensation and general liability.Washington requires a set amount of public liability and property damage insurance. Therefore, a Spokane or Seattle general contractor must carry at least $50,000 in property damage insurance, and at least $200,000 in public liability.

General contractors in some states must also carry business automobile insurance; protection from damages to work vehicles while at the construction management job site.

Even after obtaining a general contractor license and general contractors insurance, certain other requirements must be met before construction management services can be rendered. For example, general contractors must be pre-qualified before bidding on a state project.

Corporations conducting business in any state must be registered with the Secretary of State. Independent general contractors are usually required to register with the Department of Labor. General contractor renovation experts living in Dallas would be exempt, since Texas does not require registration. While a Seattle general contractor must register with the Department of Labor and Industries*, because Washington general contractors must be registered before obtaining a general contractor license. In many states general contractors are also required to hire only registered subcontractors. *Registration cost for a Washington general contractor is currently around $115. Registration is valid for two years and available online; applications must be notarized.

Note: penalties for conducting work without proper licensing and/or registration exist; sometimes up to or exceeding $1,000 per site, per day!

Each state’s tax authority has the right to set conditions before general contractor renovation experts can conduct business in that state. And many states require professionals with a general contractor license to post a “state license bond” or “surety bond.”  Assurance that the contractor’s business will operate in compliance with local and state government standards. A Seattle general contractor, for instance, must post a $12,000 license bond; required from all Washington general contractors. Note: a state license bond offers no protection from accident or fire liability. General contractors insurance and worker’s compensation coverage is still required for each state in which construction management services are rendered.

Some states may also require general contractor candidates to verify sufficient financing to operate a construction management business.And/or demand construction experience verification and references; endorsements from former employers, coworkers, and clients.

Career opportunities and earning capacity for any trade contractor is excellent; on average, over $760 weekly. General contractors, however, enjoy an even greater earning capacity, due chiefly to the ability to nab larger-scale, more prominent jobs. The annual median salary for a good general contractor exceeds $80,000. The earning capacity of a Seattle general contractor, and those in other large cities, exceeds $90,000.

What to Expect From a Good General Contractor

In addition to the above, good general contractors provide a wide range of construction management services. A good general contractor will:

  • Be highly skilled. Preferably have good general contractor schooling combined with construction work experience.
  • Evaluate construction management needs for customized service.
  • Be honest and straightforward with clients, and avoid making unrealistic promises.
  • Provide competitive but realistic bid that includes not only the base amount, but also “schedule of values.”  Outlining individual costs by breaking the bid down into separate components. And then transfer that same breakdown of costs to contractor contracts, if accepted.
  • Be meticulous about the construction management services provided; with focus on the small details as well as the large.
  • Be “AGC general contractor conscious”; remain up-to-date on Association of General Contractors initiatives and other construction-related government associations and agencies.
  • Monitor the work site for health and construction site safety risks and procedural violations.
  • Plan ahead to identify and eliminate potential hazards before they occur. *
  • Require laborers and subcontractors to wear appropriate “personal protective equipment” (PPE), for increased job safety and health protection; safety glasses, knee pads, hardhats, harnesses, etc.
  • Organize effective job safety strategies into a formal safety plan. Then made available to all construction management supervisors and laborers, or else taught by the AGC general contractor in a formal class setting. **
  • Keep accurate records.
  • Ensure compliance with all relevant codes, rules, and regulations; including the Association of General Contractors – AGC, EPA, and OSHA. In addition to city and state codes and regulations.
  • Ensure pertinent building permits are obtained before starting the project.
  • Contact local authorities to discover if any city or county lines run under or near the structure.
  • Contact city officials before digging, to avoid damaging underground sewage pipes, waterlines, gas lines or cables.
  • Keep up to date and educated through good general contractor schooling opportunities.
  • Comply with all general contractor license and contractors insurance requirements; ensure both are kept current.
  • Effectively mediate between developers, builders, renovation experts, and subcontractors.
  • Hire only laborers, renovation experts, and subcontractors they know and trust.
  • Hire only highly skilled laborers, renovation experts, and subcontractors offering specialized skills; with appropriate contractor license and contractors insurance, when relevant.
  • Foster AGC general contractor job safety planning skills, effective project planning, optimal crew performance, and timely project completion via diligent construction management services.
  • Schedule necessary inspections.
  • Draft and manage contractor contracts.
  • Provide detailed contractor contracts.

*i.e.: A good general contractor should know that vehicle and equipment related accidents account for most construction site injuries. Followed by falls, electrical shock, “caught-betweens,” and falling objects. A good general contractor will also plan ahead to identify and eliminate as many potential construction site safety hazards as possible, creating a safer work environment.

** i.e.: OSHA offers a 30-hour course (endorsed by the Association of General Contractors – AGC) in job safety and health protection. Construction workers are trained in first aid, CPR, and emergency response; receiving certification after course completion. Through OSHA safety training, participants become more construction site safety aware and better equipped to handle a job site catastrophe, should one occur.

The Association of General Contractors – AGC and similar industry related associations also offer effective job safety planning instruction, which teaches job safety and health protection strategies. Essential skills for good general contractor and construction management representatives.

Note: both OSHA and AGC have been instrumental in helping general contractors across the nation develop better construction management skills. With focus on implementing construction site safety programs for a safer, healthier, and more environment friendly work site.

A good general contractor will also find ways to save you money and get more value for your dollar. For instance, due to a declining economy and high construction costs, a Seattle general contractor might suggest utilizing existing space. For instance, subcontract with renovation experts to remodel present office space, instead of constructing new. Slashing costs while creating a roomier, more efficient and productive work environment. With the added bonus of a more modern and attractive setting to greet clients. The results?  A smoother run operation and increased business for less money.

Again, a good general contractor will be an AGC general contractor; displaying effective job safety planning skills. He/she will provide construction management services with an emphasis on job safety and health protection. Knowledgeable about Association of General Contractors – AGC, OSHA, EPA, and similar government agency regulations and construction site safety and health guidelines.

One way for an AGC general contractor to cultivate construction site safety is to incorporate a 3-prong approach to job safety planning. This strategy includes:

1.) Pre-Planning – daily/weekly.  Assessing tasks to be performed; planning ahead to identify and eliminate potential construction site safety hazards.

2.) Training – pre and mid project.  Utilizing effective job safety and health protection materials available through the Association of General Contractors – AGC, OSHA, etc. First aid training and CPR also made available.

3.) Site Inspections – daily/weekly. Performed by the AGC general contractor or designated construction management representative.Who will document work procedures and site activities; making changes and recommendations for better job safety and health protection as required.

Screening and Hiring Tips

Locating qualified general contractors is much the same as finding the best person for any type job; achieved through a process of research, screening, interviewing, elimination, and selection.

It is important to screen general contractor candidates for many reasons. Costs alone for projects requiring construction management services demand screening. Not only to help ensure a successful building venture, but also protect the developer’s investment. And because competition is fierce between general contractors some may guarantee the moon when vying for a job, to increase their chance of winning the bid.

Many project owners, lured by enticing promises and a low-cost bid, make a hasty hiring decision. Without first screening for an established general contractor; making sure the candidate had contractors insurance, or knew anything about effective job safety planning. Or had a valid general contractor license, or was licensed to practice construction management in that state.

Calling the first general contractor you find in the phone book can be a big mistake. And hiring a construction management professional because their yellow page advertisement was the largest can be costly. You run the risk turning your long awaited construction dream into a financial nightmare. A situation easily avoided by screening candidates for a good general contractor before signing on the dotted line.

Tip: many experienced general contractors are Association of General Contractors (AGC) members, or members of similar construction management agencies and associations. With up-to-date job safety and health protection training and general contractor license requirements.

AGC endorses a common-sense approach to construction site safety. Such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards; encouraging good general contractor construction management skills. For superior workplace ethics and a more productive workforce. While implementing more effective job safety planning for fewer workplace injuries.

Before connecting with any construction management candidate, know the general contractor license, contractor insurance, and general contractor schooling or hands-on experience requirements in your state. Outline the minimum level of general contractor performance and experience requirements you prefer; list concerns or project needs you want emphasized.

Also research construction expenses before meeting with candidates. Talking with renovation experts and loan officers at your bank, for instance, will help provide a realistic picture of what to expect to pay. Such preparations will save time once initial contact is made, minimize the screening process, and create a more uniform verbal platform. Making it easier to more fairly critique general contractors being interviewed.

Another bit of advice. In your quest to find a good general contractor, select one with specialized safety training. An AGC general contractor, for instance. An Association of General Contractors member with formal construction site safety instruction and effective job safety strategy skills. Increasing your chances of project success from a safer and more secure work environment.

Contractor Contracts

Once a good general contractor has been selected, schedule an appointment to go over the project in detail.Make sure you understand the role general contractors play as a construction management professional. If you don’t already have a handle on everything the project entails, ask the general contractor for clarification. Including project scope, type of materials required, material and labor costs, and projected time frame.

Also ask about project aspects requiring the special skills of other professionals. Including repairing building contractors, electricians, plumbers, masons, architects, or other types of renovation experts and skilled craftsmen.

When discussing costs insist the contractor provide a bid, not an estimate. Contractor contracts will include price quotes, not estimates. Why?  Because estimates are not binding and can change without warning. Whereas bids or quotes are considered statements; assuring the developer that construction costs will not exceed that amount. A good general contractor with experience in calculating costs will be able to provide a realistic figure.

After you have several good general contractor candidates, collect formal bids from each. Bids need not be as detailed as contractor contracts, but should provide adequate information; including magnitude, cost, and time involvement of the project. As well as reflect the general contractors skill level and quality of work to expect from specialty contractors.

Once you have made a selection get everything in writing, including costs.Detailed and signed contractor contracts are invaluable. Regardless of the general contractors integrity or faith you have in the construction management services provided. Not only are oral agreements worthless in the face of a misunderstanding. But oral agreements, real or implied, are too easy to forget or misconstrue.

If the project is relatively simple a signed work agreement may suffice. Even then, specific project details and proof of contractors insurance and general contractor license certification is basic. However, most projects requiring general contractor skills are complicated and extensive enough to warrant fully documented contractor contracts.

Handy Tip – once work begins, an effective resource to help resolve construction management problems is the state license board. Of course, the general contractor must have a general contractor license for this resource to be useful.

Note: an AGC general contractor will be mindful of the Association of General Contractors – AGC, OSHA, EPA, and similar government approved job safety and health protection regulations. An AGC general contractor may also require construction site safety training and certification for all laborers, and include job safety planning strategies within contractor contracts. Why?  Because a well trained safety-minded work crew combined with an effective job safety plan can result in fewer jobsite accidents. And most likely, lower contractors insurance rates. Savings that a good general contractor will pass on to the developer, providing a more competitive bid.

Our user-friendly search tools make accessing dependable and affordable general contractors in your area quick and easy. Experienced renovation experts and general contractor members are on standby; ready to bid competitively on your project right now.

Search our directory for qualified AGC general contractor, renovation experts. Review contractor profiles and portfolios, or post your construction management services project online, without cost or obligation.

At HandyAmerican.com it is simple to find local general contractors; highly capable and experienced in construction management and strategic job safety and health protection planning. And best of all, services to find an established general contractor or “safety-first AGC general contractor” are free!  You will not be required to hire anyone, or share contact information, if you prefer not to.

Whether you need a Seattle general contractor to handle a commercial project, an AGC general contractor in New York for job safety planning and training. Or a talented California general contractor with the artistic talents to transform your out-dated high-rise into a castle in the sky. HandyAmerican.com is the place to connect with reliable general contractors. With the skills required to make your construction dream a brilliant reality!