The Key Differences Between General Contractors & Construction Managers

The Key Differences Between General Contractors & Construction Managers

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In a construction project, many people work together to make the plan happen. There are property owners, an architect who designs the building, engineers who make sure it’s strong, and workers who build it. 

But two people are really important in making sure everything goes well: the general contractor and the construction manager. They both have similar jobs in running the construction site every day. They also want to finish the project on time without spending too much money. 

Since they have similar jobs, people often get confused about what each does but it’s crucial to know who’s in charge of what when you start a construction project. This helps everyone talk to each other and keeps the project running smoothly. So, it is important to understand the differences between the general contractor and the construction manager from the beginning. 

Who is the General Contractor? 

General Contractors (GCs) play a central role in managing construction projects, ensuring smooth and successful execution from inception to completion. When individuals or organizations plan to construct a new building, they typically enlist the services of a general contractor.  

These professionals are entrusted with the overall responsibility for the project. They may either undertake the construction work themselves or enlist other skilled workers to carry out the tasks. Essentially, a general contractor acts as the project leader, ensuring that the construction proceeds correctly and meets the designated requirements. 

Who is a Construction Manager? 

A construction manager makes sure everything is done right when building something. They don’t usually do the building work themselves, but they make sure the project is on time, within budget, and meets quality standards. They work with architects, engineers, contractors, and others to make sure the client is happy. Sometimes, they also do jobs like managing money or estimating costs for the project. 

Construction Manager vs. General Contractor 

Both the main builder and the construction managers have many things to do, and sometimes they have similar jobs. But what they do exactly can change depending on the project and who owns it. 

  • Hiring Subcontractors: Finding and bringing in people to help with the project. 
  • Scheduling: Making a plan for when and how the work will happen. 
  • Construction Management: Organizing and overseeing everything at the construction site. 
  • Project Planning: Figuring out all the important details for the project. 
  • Quality Control: Making sure the work is done well. 
  • Understanding the Project: Knowing everything about the project and what’s needed. 
  • Getting Materials and Equipment: Getting the stuff needed for the job. 
  • Licensing and Renting Equipment: Getting permission and renting tools. 
  • Communication: Making sure everyone talks to each other at the job site. 
  • Legal Requirements: Following all the rules and laws. 
  • Money Management: Making sure there’s enough money for the whole project. 
  • Progress Updates: Regularly telling how the work is going. 
  • Leadership: Leading the planning at the start. 
  • Working with Others: Working with architects, engineers, and clients to plan. 
  • Logistics: Handling all the needs at the job site. 
  • Delegating Tasks: Giving jobs to team members. 
  • Checking Everything: Making sure the work, timing, and plans are all on track. 
  • Communication: Talking regularly with clients and others. 
  • Setting Goals: Deciding what needs to be done and who does it. 
  • Budgeting: Planning how much money to spend. 
  • Safety Checks: Making sure everyone is safe. 

General Contractor Payment Scheme 

Imagine you want to build a house. You hire a general contractor, who tells you how much it will cost to do everything, like buying materials, paying workers, and their fees. If they do a good job and the cost stays low, they make more money. But if it costs more than they said, they lose money from their fee. So, it’s in their interest to make sure the project goes smoothly and doesn’t cost more than expected. 

Construction Manager Payment Scheme 

A construction manager gets paid a certain percentage of the total cost, not a fixed fee. This way, they are always motivated to make sure the project doesn’t go over budget because their pay is based on it. 

Top Considerations When Choosing Professionals for Your Project 

When deciding whether to hire a general contractor or a construction manager for your project, you need to consider safety.  

Safety as a Consideration 

Construction work can be very dangerous, and a lot of accidents happen in this industry. Even though construction workers make up only a small part of the workforce in the United States, they have many workplace deaths. One out of every five workplace deaths in the U.S.  takes place in the construction industry. Construction workers are also more than twice as likely to get hurt on the job. So, making sure your project is safe is important to avoid any accidents or deaths. 

Other Considerations 

Here are some important things to think about when deciding who to hire for your construction project: 

Project Size and Complexity: How big and complicated your construction project is can help you decide whether to hire a construction manager, a general contractor, or both. Construction managers often handle the planning and organization, while general contractors do the actual building. 

Time: If you want your project to be finished quickly, a general contractor might be a better choice. But if you have more time, a construction manager can help ensure things run smoothly. 

Budget: General contractors usually charge a fixed amount, which can be more budget-friendly. Construction managers often take a percentage of the total project cost. Both can help you stay on budget by avoiding delays and extra costs. 

In conclusion, understanding the key differences between general contractors and construction managers is crucial for the successful execution of any construction project. While both play vital roles in overseeing the project, their responsibilities and payment schemes vary significantly. 

A general contractor serves as the project leader, responsible for ensuring that the construction process runs smoothly from start to finish. On the other hand, a construction manager focuses on project management and coordination. 

Ultimately, the choice between a general contractor and a construction manager should align with your specific project needs and priorities. By making an informed decision, you can enhance the chances of a successful, safe, and cost-effective construction project.

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