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A general contractor, main contractor or prime contractoris responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a construction site, management of vendors and trades, and the communication of information to all involved parties throughout the course of a building project.
A general contractor is a construction manager employed by a client, usually upon the advice of the project's architect or engineer.Responsible for the overall coordination of a project, general contractors may also act as building designer and foreman (a tradesman in charge of a crew).
A general contractor must first assess the project-specific documents (referred to as a bid, proposal, or tender documents). In the case of renovations, a site visit is required to get a better understanding of the project. Depending on the project delivery method, the contractor will submit a fixed price proposal or bid, cost-plus price or an estimate. The general contractor considers the cost of home office overhead, general conditions, materials, and equipment, as well as the cost of labor, to provide the owner with a price for the project.
Contract documents may include drawings, project manuals (including general, supplementary, or special conditions and specifications), and addendum or modifications issued prior to proposal/bidding and prepared by a design professional, such as an architect. The general contractor may be the construction manager or construction manager at high risk.[ clarification needed ]
A general contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment (such as engineering vehicles and tools) and services necessary for the construction of the project. A general contractor often hires specialized subcontractors to perform all or portions of the construction work. When using subcontractors, the general contractor is responsible for the quality of all work performed by any and all of the hires.
The general contractor's number one priority is safety on the job site.
A general contractor's responsibilities may include applying for building permits, advising the person they are hired by, securing the property, providing temporary utilities on site, managing personnel on site, providing site surveying and engineering, disposing or recycling of construction waste, monitoring schedules and cash flows, and maintaining accurate records.
General contractors often employ Subcontractors to perform duties related to specific scopes of the job. The general contractor oversees the subcontractors work and ensures its quality.
In the United Kingdom and some British Commonwealth countries, the term 'general contractor' was gradually superseded by 'main contractor' during the early twentieth century.[ citation needed ] This was the term used by major professional, trade, and consumer organizations when issuing contracts for construction work, and thus the term 'general contractor' fell out of use except in large organizations where the main contractor is the top manager and a general contractor shares responsibilities with professional contractors.
General contractors who conduct work for government agencies are often referred to as "prime contractors". This term is also used in contexts where the customer's immediate contractor is permitted to sub-contract or circumstances are likely to involve sub-contracting to specialist operators e.g. in various public services.
Licensing requirements to work legally on construction projects vary from locale to locale. In the United States, it is the states' responsibility to define these requirements: for example, in the state of California, the requirements are stated as follows:
"With a few exceptions, all businesses or individuals who work on any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in California must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if the total cost of one or more contracts on the project is $500 or more."
In every state (that requires a license), a surety bond is required as part of the licensing process, with the exception of Louisiana, where bonding requirements may vary in different parishes. Not all states require General Contractor licenses - these include Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, among others.
In the United States, there are no Federal licensing requirements to become a general contractor, although most states require general contractors to obtain a local license to operate.[ citation needed ] Some general contractors obtain bachelor's degrees in construction science, building science, surveying, construction safety, or other disciplines.
General contractors often start out as construction workers. While gaining work experience, they learn about different aspects of construction, including masonry, carpentry, framing, and plumbing. Aspiring general contractors communicate with subcontractors and may learn the management skills they need to run their own company.
Experience in the construction industry as well as references from customers, business partners, or former employers are demanded. Some jurisdictions require candidates to provide proof of financing to own their own general contracting firm.
General contractors often run their own business. They hire subcontractors to complete specialized construction work and may manage a team of plumbers, electricians, masons, carpenters, iron workers, and other specialists. General contractors build their business by networking with potential clients, buying basic construction tools, and ensuring that their subcontractors complete high-quality work. General contractors don't usually complete much construction work themselves, but they need to be familiar with construction techniques so they can manage workers effectively. Other reasons include access to specialist skills, flexible hiring and firing, and lower costs.
A property owner or real estate developer develops a program of their needs and select a site (often with an architect). The architect assembles a design team of consulting engineers and other experts to design the building and specify the building systems. Today contractors frequently participate on the design team by providing pre-design services such as providing estimations of the budget and scheduling requirements to improve the economy of the project. In other cases, the general contractor is hired at the close of the design phase. The owner, architect, and general contractor work closely together to meet deadlines and budget. The general contractor works with subcontractors to ensure quality standards.
An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, the term architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.
Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form objects, systems, or organizations, and comes from Latin constructio and Old French construction. To construct is the verb: the act of building, and the noun is construction: how something is built, the nature of its structure.
A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers have the responsibility of the planning, procurement and execution of a project, in any undertaking that has a defined scope, defined start and a defined finish; regardless of industry. Project managers are first point of contact for any issues or discrepancies arising from within the heads of various departments in an organization before the problem escalates to higher authorities, as project representative.
A performance bond, also known as a contract bond, is a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank to guarantee satisfactory completion of a project by a contractor. The term is also used to denote a collateral deposit of good faith money, intended to secure a futures contract, commonly known as margin.
A mechanic's lien is a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. The lien exists for both real property and personal property. In the realm of real property, it is called by various names, including, generically, construction lien. It is also called a materialman's lien or supplier's lien when referring to those supplying materials, a laborer's lien when referring to those supplying labor, and a design professional's lien when referring to architects or designers who contribute to a work of improvement. In the realm of personal property, it is also called an artisan's lien. The term "lien" comes from a French root, with a meaning similar to link; it is related to "liaison". Mechanic's liens on property in the United States date from the 18th century.
Design–build is a project delivery system used in the construction industry. It is a method to deliver a project in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the design–builder or design–build contractor. It can be subdivided into architect-led design–build and contractor-led design–build.
Design–bid–build, also known as Design–tendertraditional method or hardbid, is a project delivery method in which the agency or owner contracts with separate entities for the design and construction of a project.
Construction management (CM) is a professional service that uses specialized, project management techniques to oversee the planning, design, and construction of a project, from its beginning to its end. The purpose of Construction management is to control a project's time / delivery, cost and quality—sometimes referred to as a project management triangle or "triple constraints." CM is compatible with all project delivery systems, including design-bid-build, design-build, CM At-Risk and Public Private Partnerships. Professional construction managers may be reserved for lengthy, large-scale, high budget undertakings, called capital projects.
A management contract is an arrangement under which operational control of an enterprise is vested by contract in a separate enterprise that performs the necessary managerial functions in return for a fee. Management contracts involve not just selling a method of doing things but involve actually doing them. A management contract can involve a wide range of functions, such as technical operation and of a production facility, management of personnel, accounting, marketing services and training.
The Joint Contracts Tribunal, also known as the JCT, produces standard forms of contract for construction, guidance notes and other standard documentation for use in the construction industry in the United Kingdom. From its establishment in 1931, JCT has expanded the number of contributing organisations. Following recommendations in the 1994 Latham Report, the current operational structure comprises seven members who approve and authorise publications. In 1998 the JCT became a limited company.
Submittals in construction management are shop drawings, material data, samples, and product data. Submittals are required primarily for the architect and engineer to verify that the correct products will be installed on the project.
On large construction projects, the superintendent's job is to run the day-to-day operations on the construction site and control the short-term schedule. The role of the superintendent also includes important quality control and subcontractor coordination responsibilities. It is common for most finance-related tasks and long-term scheduling to be handled by a project manager. The project manager and superintendent need to cooperate and share control effectively. Superintendents are almost universally stationed on the construction site, while project managers are usually based in the contractor's office with part-time on site responsibilities.
A specification often refers to a set of documented requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product, or service. A specification is often a type of technical standard.
Construction bidding is the process of submitting a proposal (tender) to undertake, or manage the undertaking of a construction project. The process starts with a cost estimate from blueprints and material take offs.
Building commissioning (Cx) is an integrated, systematic process to ensure, through documented verification, that all building systems perform interactively according to the "Design Intent". The commissioning process establishes and documents the "Owner's Project Requirements (OPR)" criteria for system function, performance expectations, maintainability; verify and document compliance with these criteria throughout all phases of the project. Commissioning procedures require a collaborative team effort and 'should' begin during the pre-design or planning phase of the project, continue through the design and construction phases, initial occupancy phase, training of operations and maintenance (O&M) staff, and into occupancy.
Construction law is a branch of law that deals with matters relating to building construction, engineering, and related fields. It is in essence an amalgam of contract law, commercial law, planning law, employment law and tort. Construction law covers a wide range of legal issues including contract, negligence, bonds and bonding, guarantees and sureties, liens and other security interests, tendering, construction claims, and related consultancy contracts. Construction law affects many participants in the construction industry, including financial institutions, surveyors, quantity surveyors, architects, builders, engineers, construction workers, and planners.
Fast-track building construction is construction industry jargon for a project delivery strategy to start construction before the design is complete. The purpose is to shorten the time to completion.
Retainage is a portion of the agreed upon contract price deliberately withheld until the work is substantially complete to assure that contractor or subcontractor will satisfy its obligations and complete a construction project. A retention is money withheld by one party in a contract to act as security against incomplete or defective works. They have their origin in the British construction industry Railway Mania of the 1840s but are now common across the industry, featuring in the majority of construction contracts. A typical retention rate is 5% of which half is released at completion and half at the end of the defects liability period. There has been criticism of the practice for leading to uncertainty on payment dates, increasing tensions between parties and putting monies at risk in cases of insolvency. There have been several proposals to replace the practice with alternative systems.
The following is a glossary of terms relating to construction cost estimating.
A construction contract is a mutual or legally binding agreement between two parties based on policies and conditions recorded in document form. The two parties involved are one or more property owners and one or more contractors. The owner, often referred to as the 'employer' or the 'client', has full authority to decide what type of contract should be used for a specific development to be constructed and to set out the legally-binding terms and conditions in a contractual agreement. A construction contract is an important document as it outlines the scope of work, risks, duties and legal rights of both the contractor and the owner.