Tag: construction

What Does a General Contractor Do?

General Contractor Richmond VA manages all the moving parts that make it possible to take a construction project from start to finish. These include: ensuring building materials and components are delivered on time, coordinating subcontractors, and ensuring all parties receive payment on time.

When selecting a general contractor, it’s important to select one who is fully licensed with years of experience and dozens of glowing references. You should also consider their communication skills and compatibility.

Large construction projects require the movement of a significant number of materials and workers. A general contractor manages these logistical efforts to ensure that men and material are at the right place and time. This is known as supply chain management. GCs typically employ a team of professionals who handle these functions to achieve the best results for their clients.

The planning process also includes assessing a project’s scope and creating an execution plan. This includes estimating the amount of work and costs for each phase of the construction. This helps the GC and project owner decide how much to pay for each subcontractor’s services.

During the actual construction process, a GC makes sure that work is completed to specification and that payment is disbursed. They also coordinate with the architect to ensure that construction takes place according to the design and blueprints.

When selecting a general contractor for your renovation, look for one with a solid track record and plenty of practical experience. Ask for three to five references and check online reviews. You should also find out whether the contractor has a license to do business in your area.


One of the most important aspects of a construction project is creating an accurate budget. This requires the GC to carefully consider the scope of work and specific challenges that a build may present. The budget should also include any required permits and other expenses.

Labor costs are another critical element of the construction budget. This includes both direct and indirect costs like wages, equipment rental, tax expenses, and other overhead. Using historical data, quotes from suppliers, and reliable project management software can help GCs estimate these costs accurately.

Inaccurate estimation or budget overruns can put projects at risk, especially when they’re being completed on tight timelines. This is why many general contractors are increasingly relying on contingency budgets, which allow them to defer some expenses until they can take action. It’s also common for contract stipulations to outline which party is responsible for permitting costs (either the GC or the subcontractor). Coming in under budget shows that the GC pays attention to detail and can bring pragmatic solutions to the table—which is always a good look for potential clients.

Contract Negotiation

Having a good understanding of contract terms can help you negotiate better deals. This involves researching market trends, industry regulations, changing laws (if you work internationally) and other factors that could impact the project’s terms.

During the negotiation process, you can also discuss how to best schedule construction milestones and determine how to handle changes in plans or specifications. You can also use this opportunity to negotiate with the owner regarding a payment schedule and other terms in the contract.

General contractors typically earn more than subcontractors due to their comprehensive responsibilities and the scope of projects they handle. However, it’s important to negotiate fair contracts for all parties involved.

One key area of negotiation is limiting the amount of money you spend up front on the project. For example, you can ask to only pay for special order non-returnable items and materials required for the work you perform. You can also ask for sole and explicit contractual authority over the project’s schedule, avoiding having the contractor agree to a timeline you can’t meet.


When it comes to building or remodeling a property, large construction projects have many moving parts. A general contractor will have a plan for each phase of the project and schedule tasks to prevent time delays or cost overruns.

GCs are typically hired to oversee all construction activities and act as the primary liaison between project owners and subcontractors. They will ensure that work is completed to design and blueprint specifications before any payment is disbursed.

As part of the scheduling process, GCs will use critical path analysis to identify the key activities that must be completed to meet the construction deadlines and avoid costly delays. They will also coordinate resources such as materials, labor, and equipment to ensure that the right people are working on the right tasks at the correct times.

Licensed contractors will be familiar with their local jurisdiction’s codes and permit processes. This will save the project owner significant time and money by avoiding any delays or penalties from local authorities. In addition, a GC will have relationships with local vendors and craftsmen to get the best pricing on materials for the project.

Subcontractor Management

Subcontractors play a crucial role in executing specialized scopes of work on construction projects. Their performance reverberates through the project quality, timelines and overall outcome. GCs curate a list of pre-qualified specialty contractors during the contractor screening and selection process, evaluating their experience, financial stability, safety track record, and references.

During contract negotiation, clear outlines regarding payment terms, milestones, and scope adjustments are established. This helps avoid misunderstandings and disputes during the project execution phase.

The GC and subcontractors communicate regularly through meetings, progress reports, and onsite huddles to facilitate smooth coordination. Using project management software enables real-time updates, eliminating double-entry and other errors in the process. This improves the effectiveness of communication and fosters productive, long-lasting working relationships. It also ensures that each party is aware of the project goals and expectations, reducing confusion. This in turn reduces project delays. Moreover, it helps the GC to address changes promptly, avoiding unwarranted cost overruns. It also facilitates effective budget monitoring and control. This in turn, reduces risk and increases profitability.

Quality Control

In addition to overseeing the work of subcontractors, a general contractor must be able to complete the project on schedule without exceeding budget. This requires a detailed Quality Control (QC) plan that sets quality standards and defines steps to ensure that work meets those standards.

GCs qualify sub-contractors by reviewing their licensing, insurance and experience. This helps to ensure that subcontractors will be able to produce quality work that meets code regulations and building standards. In addition, GCs monitor the timeline to ensure that building materials will be available when needed at the job site. This prevents unused materials from sitting out on the job site, which can be an attractive target for theft and also reduces time spent waiting for delivery of necessary items.

GCs also ensure that the construction process adheres to the specifications in the blueprint and design documents. This can help reduce the cost of future maintenance and repairs to the premise that would otherwise be necessary if construction did not follow the intended plans. This is distinct from quality assurance, which is performed by the Architect or Engineer on behalf of the Owner.


For GCs, maintaining project safety is an ongoing process. They must ensure that all vendors and subcontractors are prequalified to work on construction projects, and they must regularly monitor work sites for compliance with hazard control plans and safety standards. They also must provide training to their employees, as well as other contractors on the project site.

GCs must also maintain accurate records of incident reports, safety inspections and emergency response plans. This recordkeeping is vital for identifying trends, assessing the effectiveness of current safety measures and making necessary improvements. In the United States, a GC’s primary responsibility is to prevent accidents and injuries to their own employees. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has vacated citations against GCs for their subcontractors’ violations when they could not reasonably be expected to know of those violations given their secondary role at the worksites.

The right general contractor can make or break a project’s success. To be sure you’re working with a reliable and competent professional, ask potential contractors for references from previous clients and check online reviews.


It’s important for GCs to be able to communicate effectively throughout the project. They’ll have a lot of people coming and going, including subcontractors and suppliers.

Communication in construction is often a game of whispered messages, where information is passed from one person to the next by hand or over a radio system until everyone receives it. The resulting miscommunication can be frustrating and costly to the project.

GCs are responsible for establishing a chain of command for communication in the construction industry. These protocols ensure that any requests for information, change orders or daily reports are submitted through the proper channels.

They’re also responsible for reviewing the work of all parties before disbursing any payments. They’ll work closely with the architect to ensure construction adheres to the design and blueprint specifications. Some GCs act as the prime contractor, while others are brought in as a construction manager (CM). A CM works under the direction of the GC to manage the project and perform certain functions such as budgeting or purchasing.