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The general contractor may be the construction manager or construction manager at high risk. A general contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment such as engineering vehicles and tools and services necessary for the construction of the project.

Related Articles in Florida Construction Industry Law Blog

A general contractor often hires specialized subcontractors to perform all or portions of the construction work. When using subcontractors, the general contractor is responsible for the quality of all work performed by any and all of the hires. A general contractor's responsibilities may include applying for building permits, advising the person they are hired by, securing the property, providing temporary utilities on site, managing personnel on site, providing site surveying and engineering, disposing or recycling of construction waste, monitoring schedules and cash flows, and maintaining accurate records.

In the United Kingdom and some British Commonwealth countries, the term 'general contractor' was gradually superseded by 'main contractor' during the early twentieth century. General contractors who conduct work for government agencies are often referred to as "prime contractors". This term is also used in contexts where the customer's immediate contractor is permitted to sub-contract or circumstances are likely to involve sub-contracting to specialist operators e. Licensing requirements to work legally on construction projects vary from locale to locale.

In the United States, it is the states' responsibility to define these requirements: for example, in the state of California , the requirements are stated as follows:. In every state that requires a license , a surety bond is required as part of the licensing process, with the exception of Louisiana, where bonding requirements may vary in different parishes.

Initial Considerations

In the United States, there are no Federal licensing requirements to become a general contractor, although most states require general contractors to obtain a local license to operate. General contractors often start out as construction workers. While gaining work experience, they learn about different aspects of construction, including masonry , carpentry , framing , and plumbing.

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Aspiring general contractors communicate with subcontractors and may learn the management skills they need to run their own company. Experience in the construction industry as well as references from customers, business partners, or former employers are demanded. Some jurisdictions require candidates to provide proof of financing to own their own general contracting firm. General contractors often run their own business.

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They hire subcontractors to complete specialized construction work and may manage a team of plumbers, electricians, masons, carpenters, iron workers, and other specialists. General contractors build their business by networking with potential clients, buying basic construction tools, and ensuring that their subcontractors complete high-quality work.

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One of the most challenging tasks for a general contractor is to find good people and make sure that they show up. This can be particularly tough for the one-shot builder, especially in a hot construction market, when the best subcontractors can get plenty of work from general contractors who will feed them regular business. And, even if the self-builder is lucky enough to attract skilled workers, they may charge more for their labor than they would for someone who uses them repeatedly. The biggest problem in handling subcontractors, though, is coordinating their efforts once they are hired.

The general contractor is like the conductor of an orchestra, and every note has to be played at just the right time. If one subcontractor doesn't show up, it can hold up the whole production.

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And not showing up is rampant; stories of painters who bring the ladder and then disappear for two weeks are almost commonplace. The reason for this is that subcontractors tend to overbook. Since they might be held up at any point on any job, most subcontractors have multiple possible jobs on any given day so that they won't remain idle.

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And because they can't be in two places at once, some jobs inevitably get delayed, which, in turn, causes delays for other subcontractors down the line. Even experienced builders complain that this is the plague of the industry. But for self-builders, the problem is worse since they do not have an ongoing relationship to use as leverage. The upshot is that it can take several times as long for an owner to build as it would for a professional.

And, since the interest on a construction loan continues to accrue during any delays, the costs can quickly mount. Says Bill Picardi, a general contractor in Southborough, Massachusetts, "In this market, it's suicide to self-build. There is also the difficulty of knowing whether you are getting quality work. While few contractors are out to cheat the novice, they do work in a competitive business, where money is saved by doing things the fastest way. But, despite such challenges, it is nonetheless possible for an owner to act as his or her own general contractor and even to enjoy it.

With no previous construction experience, David Hamilton worked as the general contractor for the home that he and his wife, Andrea, built in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and completed the work in just six months. Hamilton began by spending the previous year canvassing the opinions of as many experts as he could and then comparison shopping for all his materials.

He also hired the highest quality - not necessarily the cheapest - subcontractors, and then solicited their advice during construction.

Owner Builder Permits – Why Acting as Your Own Contractor in Florida Can Be Risky Business

For those who choose to build a house with their own hands, the challenge is twofold the aspiring builder must not only understand how a house is built, but also become adept at the techniques of home construction. Fortunately, there are some resources to help. Some step-by-step construction manuals provide enough detail - at least in principle - to build a complete custom home from scratch.

One of the first, Dwelling House Construction , was written by Albert Dietz in , just in time for American soldiers returning home from World War II to have a handy, single volume to guide them as the nation underwent a house-building boom.

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One of the more recent, Do-It-Yourself Housebuilding , by George Nash, has been cited by many self-builders as their main resource. But, as anyone who has ever tried to build a house based solely on book learning will tell you, it is a formidable task. For those who desire more individual instruction, the Shelter Institute offers intensive one- to three-week classes on all aspects of house construction. In business since , the Shelter Institute has taught 25, students who have gone on to build 8, homes. Perseverance is the biggest thing. Gadgets aren't the answer. It's not about how to use a hammer; it's about how to use your head.

It also takes a lot of time and commitment. Unlike working as a general contractor, which can theoretically be done on top of a regular full-time job, building a home with one's own labor typically consumes anywhere from nine months which is very fast to several years of an owner's time. Few professionals could afford to take this much time away from their regular jobs and, if they did, they would probably find that the money saved on construction was eaten up by lost wages.

Teachers, and others who have free time in the summer, are probably more able to make this type of commitment. And, as Patsy Hennin recounts, an even more practical method - though one that still represents foregone earnings - is to build a house in partnership, with one person retaining a full-time outside job and the other devoting his or her full efforts to building the house. Doug Chin and Wanda Rice are a married couple who took the Shelter Institute course and built their own home in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in eighteen months, beginning in the fall of After completing instruction, Doug, who kept his full-time job throughout the project, said, "I feel confident.

The bulk of the construction was done by Wanda. She ran the carpentry crew for the exterior work, did all the interior framing, laid most of the hardwood floors, and did a large portion of the finish carpentry. Doug, an electrical engineer, did most of the electrical work, since Massachusetts allows unlicensed self-builders to do so subject, of course, to inspection. Ironically, the state does not allow self-builders to do their own plumbing. Keep in mind, that as I mentioned in the first point, you are putting more of your own time in with custom building, it just may really pay off with savings!

Choose a custom builder that is the right fit for you. If you have plans made, you can also have them work up approximate costs on your plans as well as find out exactly how they bill their projects. With our last home, I left off some of the finishing details like molding throughout the house and added those things later after the home was complete. Another thing you can do is put more money into the few top wants and cut back in other areas to help even out the budget.

You can still make a great laundry room, but maybe go with a more cost effective tile, etc. Make sure you have extra money set aside! You want to make sure you pick a builder that is conservative in his estimates and allows an additional contingency. Going with a builder that specializes in custom construction should help with this as they are more used to working with an open ended spectrum of finishes and selections.

You can also plan to have your own contingency money set aside to ensure that you are able to get an end product you love, even if that does mean spending more than you originally planned to.