Even if you've never started a construction or renovation project, there's a good chance you've heard the term "general contractor" associated with such work. People often wonder where the GC fits in the picture. The best way to describe a GC's job is they synchronize the many tasks that make the project whole. Here is how they synchronize projects.
Most projects involve a combination of designers, architects, and engineers. A project may also require a specialized professional like a civil engineer if there are issues with the soil. In extreme cases, you may need to consult a hydrologist if water flows are making work hard.
Coordinating the planning phase requires a single point of contact. Enter the general contractor. The GC has to synchronize the ideas and advice of the various planners. If an architect wants a particular feature, the GC needs to run it past a structural engineer to see if it's feasible. If the idea isn't feasible, the contractor will coordinate changes in designs and materials until the planners find a workable solution.
As you start executing a project, sequencing becomes important. The GC needs to think about the sequence of jobs necessary to go from site clearance excavation to painting and landscaping. Many of the sequences are tightly bound together. For example, you don't want a drywall company putting up materials before the plumber and electrician have put everything inside the wall.
The general contractor also has to ensure that the right resources will be at the job site at the right times. You don't want materials and equipment sitting around for weeks. However, they do need to be available before the appropriate subcontractors arrive. When the roofers show up, there has to be a stack of shingles.
Not only does the general contractor have to order supplies, but they have to work with suppliers. If a concrete supplier needs to get a truck into the job site, the GC has to figure out how to make it happen.
Monitoring and Quality Control
A general contractor is also a single point of accountability. The GC monitors the project's progress. If there are quality control issues, the GC must single out the responsible subcontractors and ensure remediation happens without disrupting other work.
They also have to keep the contracting party in the loop. A general contractor should provide regular updates so you can understand how the project is going.