In the construction industry, a general contractor acts as the overall project manager who oversees construction projects. They manage both commercial and residential construction projects, such as houses, buildings, roads, bridges, and other installations. To effectively marshal a project towards completion, a general contractor requires a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the construction industry.
General contractors have different responsibilities. They supervise large teams of skilled workers; collaborate with professionals, suppliers, sub-contractors, and other stakeholders; ensure a productive and safe work environment; manage project budget and timeline; develop and implement plans; oversee the day-to-day operations, and many other tasks to ensure that the project proceeds as planned.
Considering the herculean role of a general contractor, it is crucial to have the necessary skill set, along with knowledge and experience. Here are the skills you need to be a good general contractor.
Every construction project requires teams of professionals and/or skilled workers. As a general contractor, you need to coordinate and supervise these teams, so that they follow the planned program of work. Management skill is a valuable asset that will help ensure everyone completes their tasks within budget and schedule.
General contractors constantly juggle multiple responsibilities. You need to be able to manage your time and prioritize all these tasks to achieve your daily goals. Thankfully, there are project management software solutions that general contractors can use to ensure every task is completed on time.
General contractors communicate with various parties, such as the client, team members, suppliers, sub-contractors, regulatory authorities, and many others. Strong communication skills are vital to fully explain job details, project specifics, contracts, and other concerns. Aside from conveying their concerns, general contractors also need to be good at listening. This fosters two-sided communication thereby heading off problems and making it easier to reach consensus.
General contractors must be good leaders. They need to have leadership traits such as:
According to tenant build-out contractors from AFS General, Florida, the general contractor does not perform actual fieldwork. Instead, he oversees the duties and tasks of their teammates making sure that the project is moving forward as scheduled. Delegation requires that you assign the right people with the right skills and talent to specific responsibilities.
With numerous equally important tasks and assignments on hand, general contractors need solid prioritization skills. You need to determine which items need urgent attention – and those that can wait. At times, you’ll face some limitations such as being short on budget or time. In these instances, you have to decide which goals will have priority to ensure that the project proceeds despite constraints.
Having a solid network within the industry can help you assemble the best team. A good contractor can leverage connections to find the best vendors and subcontractors. This ensures that you get reasonable costs, quality materials, and excellent workmanship.
Today’s construction industry is highly dependent on IT solutions. From the planning stage down to the day-to-day operations, general contractors use different digital solutions. Aside from basic email, word processor, and spreadsheets, you also need to be well-versed with specialized computer programs like 3D rendering systems, BIM solutions, and other project management tools. These IT solutions are vital to ensure accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and success.
Construction projects are fraught with problems. A good general contractor must be able to address these challenges quickly and effectively. You should be able to develop strategies that aim to protect the interests of your client. It should keep the job on track without sacrificing money, time, and quality. Developing problem-solving skills does not happen overnight. It requires experience.
Before a project even starts, there are a lot of things a general contractor needs to complete — CAD plans, building permits, compliances with local, state, and federal agencies, and other documentation. During construction, the general contractor must ensure compliance with safety rules, construction codes, and critical regulations. As such, a general contractor needs to possess deep industry knowledge to fully navigate through these complex issues. Any non-compliance with these regulations can make the project illegal and cost you fines and penalties. The entire project might even be demolished for failure to adhere to building codes.
In the construction industry, risks are inescapable. However, a reliable general contractor will be able to identify potential risks and plan strategies to prevent and/or mitigate its impact. Some common risks include sudden changes in the scope of work or unexpected delays. A general contractor knows what to do and how to approach such risks. Construction is a volatile industry and you should be prepared for these eventualities.
Whether it is a simple home renovation or a major infrastructure project, the general contractor is a central, unifying position. To be effective in this position, you must be equipped with experience, knowledge, and skills. This prepares you to confidently steer the project to completion.