The general contractor on a construction project is the on-the-ground resource that brings all of the puzzle pieces together. But oftentimes, with so many different job titles floating around, it can be a bit confusing to try and figure out the difference between a general contractor and a construction manager.
What Is a General Contractor?
A general contractor is an entity that serves as the sole source of construction on a project. In some cases, they’ve got their own employees like superintendents and foremen to work on the job site itself along with skilled laborers like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. The general contractor usually has their own relationships with preferred subcontractors to handle project tasks where they may not have the right skilled staff in-house.
In some cases, a general contractor can be focused on one particular industry over another and may not be suitable for different types of jobs. For example, it’s possible to have a general contractor that focuses strictly on industrial construction and wouldn’t be a great fit for a project not requiring that discipline. Likewise, there are some general contractors who are more generalized in their disciplines and are experienced in multiple construction disciplines. They can usually handle many different types of jobs across different construction sectors.
What Is a Construction Manager?
A construction manager handles the overall completion of a construction project. This can include the designing of a building, financial management, and after-sales support. Additionally, a construction manager can also serve as the general contractor on a project which is typical in a CMAR scenario.
General contractors usually gain jobs by placing bids while construction managers package the entire project from start to completion at one set price. An easy to understand example would be:
A general contractor will build a school to spec. A construction manager would design the school, finance it, build it, and handle the school’s warranty service upon completion.
Our team is qualified to handle projects of all sizes.
Is a Construction Manager Better Than a General Contractor?
In short, it depends. Different projects require different levels of expertise. In general, a construction manager that’s handling a project from start to finish will provide better and more accurate pricing and typically allows the owner to be more hands-off than hiring a general contractor separately.
Additionally, since the construction manager can act as the general contractor on a project, there’s one less step in completing the project which helps to strengthen efficiency and avoid project delays.