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What does a contractor do in construction?

A construction contractor is involved in multiple responsibilities that require a combination of different skills. A contractor oversees the construction process, hires workers and handles the project budget.

While some background in construction work is essential, general contractors must also bring various soft skills to the table.

A good general and building contractor can make all the difference in the success of construction projects they're involved in. Here is a breakdown list of what contractors do and their job duties.

1. Oversee the construction process

The main job of a general contractor is to oversee the whole construction project and support different parts of the team as needed. This is why coming from a background in construction is so important.

Licensed general contractors who don't understand the specific processes involved in the work they manage can't provide adequate guidance in critical cases. This can sometimes introduce significant additional challenges to a project and jeopardize its completion.

2. Hire subcontractors

Hiring subcontractors is another responsibility of general contractors. They should have a good understanding of the local market and ideally already have some established connections they can leverage.

General contractors might have a preferred team of specialists they like to work with, but they can also bring in new people when a project calls for unique expertise. They might be required to continue the staffing process during the construction phase, depending on the requirements of the project.

3. Facilitate communication between team members

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The job of a general contractor involves a lot of managing on a lower level, and this also includes relaying communication between different team members, resolving conflicts, and generally making sure that everyone is on the same page.

Communication can get very complicated in large-scale project management, making a good general contractor an invaluable resource in preventing common bottlenecks. They must have strong communication skills and be able to talk to people coming from a variety of backgrounds, both on the construction site and outside of it. This includes everyone from construction workers to accountants and other office jobs.

4. Handle project budget

Budgeting issues are typically handled by the general contractor as well. There might be financial specialists working on more specific tasks, but they would still report to the project's general contractor. The contractor must ensure that the project doesn't deviate from projected costs too significantly, and be ready to explain any increases in the requirements to the client.

Good contractors will also know how to keep costs down and can often deliver a project under budget. Accomplishing this safely and without cutting any corners is a complicated task that requires in-depth knowledge of every stage of the construction process.

Failing to assess project costs realistically is one of the most common problems for an inexperienced contractor. This is especially true in cases where the contractor isn't able to provide a convincing explanation for deviations.

There are many other duties that fall under a contractor's responsibilities, but those are the primary tasks involved in their work. Each project has its own set of requirements that might call for additional specialists or for an unusual allocation of assets, finances, and workers. Understanding those requirements in detail is key to successful performance as a general contractor.

Clara Annesley

Clara Annesley is an interior design and construction content writer. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Architectural Design Technology from the University of West London. Clara specialises in residential construction for topics like health & safety, architectural design and writing cost guides for renovation and remodelling projects.