Construction projects follow a team of professionals who contribute to different activities. The two team members who play a vital role are a general contractor and a construction manager.
Both work towards the same goal—i.e., to efficiently complete the project and satisfy the client. They also utilize modern construction tools like Bridgit to optimize their workforce and manage budgets.
Due to their similar job responsibilities, many people confuse a general contractor and construction manager with each other. However, both differ in many ways. In this post, we’ll learn the major differences between general contracting and construction management. As a construction company, it will help you make the right choices in the future.
General contractors are all-rounders at the construction site and participate in the project from the planning phase. They procure resources, hire subcontractors, and supervise all construction activities.
Sometimes, a general contractor onboards their employees who work as project managers, carpenters, and electricians. But most of the time, general contractors outsource the construction activities by establishing a bridge between workers and the project owner.
You hire a general contractor on a lump sum contract which includes the following:
- Procurement – Arranging resources, like equipment and workforce.
- Wages – Giving daily wages to the laborers.
- Overhead costs – Expenses like rent, maintenance, and repair.
A general contractor is responsible for delivering the project to the client within the committed budget schedule. But there’s more to it.
Responsibilities of a general contractor
The following are the 4 key responsibilities of a general contractor throughout the project cycle:
1. Quote the project
A general contractor bids on the construction job by meeting with the project owner or client. During the meeting, the contractor gives the client an estimated project’s overall cost. That cost includes the lump sum amount which we discussed above.
2. Review the project scope
The project scope document includes the construction activities with the individual team’s responsibilities. The general contractor reviews that document and plans the procurement accordingly.
With the help of the project scope, the general contractor also estimates the construction budget. That helps the contractor to identify project limitations and risks.
3. Analyze drawings
Although general contractors are not technical, they are well aware of construction drawings. That’s why they are involved in the designing phase with the architects and designers to analyze each drawing.
Contractors also inform you about the latest commercial and residential construction law updates so that you can avoid getting penalized due to unawareness.
4. Submit cost
General contractors receive the project’s documents, analyze the requirements, and submit an estimated cost. They also include the overhead costs while quoting the project. After the project delivery, the general contractor gets the savings, if any.
Construction managers might look similar to general contractors at the construction site. However, construction managers contribute to the project from the earliest stage.
A construction manager could be a service or an individual who guides the client before the planning phase. So, construction management helps the owner estimate project costs and keeps supervising the construction activities until the closing phase.
Responsibilities of a construction manager
Since construction management gets attached to the project before the planning phase, it has the following 4 responsibilities different from general contracting:
1. Plan the project
A construction manager has technical knowledge with managerial capabilities. They are involved with those companies or individuals who need assistance planning a construction project.
Sometimes, companies consult construction managers to get a better perspective regarding the project. So, a manager plans the project and prepares a construction planning document. That document becomes a reference for future construction activities.
2. Schedule the project
Construction managers help companies to schedule construction activities and assign each team their responsibilities. They also prepare a project scope document to identify and track each activity. That creates a culture of accountability in the team.
While scheduling the project, construction managers analyze the client’s requirements and might visit the jobsite for the project’s better understanding.
Some managers use the latest construction management tools to create an efficient project schedule. Once they finalize the schedule, they proceed to make the master schedule.
A construction master schedule includes the following:
- Project deliverables – Requirements of a client they are paying for.
- Project milestones – Construction goals are divided into smaller objectives.
- Work breakdown structure (WBS) components – Visual and hierarchical representation of the project scope.
3. Design the project
Construction managers work with designers and architects to design the project. They know the importance of the designing phase and therefore invest the necessary time in making the project’s design.
They are also familiar with the latest construction designing tools to make 3D models, architectures, and blueprints of the building. Once the design is finalized, the manager shares the project design document with all the relevant stakeholders and team members.
The construction manager also deals with the processes like the request for information (RFI) during the construction project.
4. Estimate budget
Since construction management works with the client before the planning phase, it also participates in estimating the budget. The managers review the client’s requirements and get involved with the client to work on the project’s costs.
Therefore, the construction managers work on a fixed cost known as their fee. Moreover, any savings throughout the project are returned to the client.
Who to go for, a general contractor or a construction manager?
General contracting involves contractors who are not full-not employees. Instead, they are independent and carry out the construction activities according to their experience. They also hire their own team and work on a lump sum contract.
Any savings the project makes goes into the contractor’s pocket. That means general contractors prioritize their interests first and then the client’s requirements.
On the other hand, construction managers work on a fixed fee and keep the budget plan transparent. As a result, their relationship with the clients is also stronger as their efficiency