Choosing Between a General Contracting Company or Construction Manager

December 29, 2019

If you’re planning for a construction project, you may be on the lookout for a building partner or team that will help ensure your project goes without a hitch. You want to make sure that your home or building is constructed according to the approved design, to budget, and with zero or minimal delays.

To do this, you may be considering whether to get a general contracting company or construction manager to do the job. But what, exactly, are the differences between the two? Or are they one and the same thing? We’ll start this off by saying that they are not the same, although the differences between the two may not be so obvious.

Construction Manager

One primary distinction between a construction manager and a general contractor is that the former is an individual or person as opposed to a company. Moreover, a construction manager is selected by the client or owner based on their credentials, skills, and experience. Also, unlike a general contracting company, a construction manager does not need to participate in a bidding process. Instead, they are chosen based on their qualifications just like many other service providers.

A construction manager is also contracted to work on a preset fee, and this fee remains unaffected whether the project is finished ahead of schedule or goes over the budget. Also, since a construction manager is not involved in a bidding process, they can be involved in the pre-design stage, and it’s also part of their role to ensure that the project is constructed according to the initial design.

A construction manager does not need to be on the job site. Their role, however, is to oversee the entire construction process as a project manager. Most of the time, a construction manager is only one person or an individual, although there are also cases where more than one person comprises a construction management team. Such a team is usually composed of project managers, estimators, and accountants.

General Contracting Company

As you may have already gathered, a general contractor is awarded a contract after a bidding process. Usually, the winner after bidding would be the most reliable, trusted general contracting company that submits the lowest bid.

It’s important to hire a trustworthy contractor that only gives honest estimates, works hard to adhere to project deadlines, and stays within budget. If project costs end up exceeding the estimate, the company that hired the general contractor will have to take full responsibility. On the other hand, if the project is finished ahead of the deadline and below the budget, the contractor generates a profit. This is why it is important for the project owner to work together in coming up with a reasonable, fair budget.

Unlike a construction manager, a general contractor isn’t involved in the pre-design stage. However, they do need to oversee project construction planning from start to completion. Moreover, a general contractor takes care of hiring and approving the required subcontractors or extra personnel needed for the project. 

A well-established general contracting company will also have a full range of construction professionals, specialists, and subcontractors on board or within its network necessary to complete a construction project. Therefore, it falls on the contractor to ensure only the right, qualified people are hired to get the job done.

When to Hire One or the Other

Both construction managers and general contractors have important roles to play in building projects. 

In small or individual projects, as long as you have partnered with a reliable, trusted contractor, that person can also take on the role of construction management. However, if you have much larger, multi-unit project, you may wish to have a trusted construction manager to oversee your project and ensure the work is being carried out on schedule and within budget.

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