General Contractor

General Contracting and Construction Services

The function of a general contractor is to coordinate all tasks in a construction project. Unless the owner performs this function or engages a professional construction manager to do so, a good general contractor who has worked with a team of superintendents, specialty contractors or subcontractors together for a number of projects in the past can be most effective in inspiring loyalty and cooperation.

The general contractor is also knowledgeable about the labor force employed in construction. The labor force may or may not be unionized depending on the size and location of the projects. In some projects, no member of the work force belongs to a labor union; in other cases, both union and non-union craftsmen work together in what is called an open shop, or all craftsmen must be affiliated with labor unions in a closed shop. Since labor unions provide hiring halls staffed with skilled journeyman who have gone through apprentice programs for the projects as well as serving as collective bargain units, an experienced general contractor will make good use of the benefits and avoid the pitfalls in dealing with organized labor.

Specialty contractors include mechanical, electrical, foundation, excavation, and demolition contractors among others. They usually serve as subcontractors to the general contractor of a project. In some cases, legal statutes may require an owner to deal with various specialty contractors directly. In the State of New York, for example, specialty contractors, such as mechanical and electrical contractors, are not subjected to the supervision of the general contractor of a construction project and must be given separate prime contracts on public works. With the exception of such special cases, an owner will hold the general contractor responsible for negotiating and fulfilling the contractual agreements with the subcontractors.