What is a General Contractor?

Want to start a remodel, home addition, or new construction project on your home, but have a lot of questions first? The construction industry has terms and concepts that don’t need to leave homeowners in the dark. At Tectonic Design Build, we want to help you understand some basic terms in the industry. 

A General Contractor is generally responsible for: 

  1. Hiring the best subcontractors
  2. Managing the project’s progress and schedule
  3. Building permits application
  4. Property security
  5. Providing (temporary) facilities on site
  6. Taking care of generated waste
  7. On-site personnel management
  8. Site surveying
  9. Site engineering

General Contractors are like circus masters; it’s their job to pull together everything into one ring to create the “greatest show on earth” – your beautifully completed construction project, no matter if you want a simple home remodel or are creating a new construction project.

Below you will find some answers to the questions about general contractors frequently asked by homeowners.

  • A general contractor is accountable for a wide array of details that come up before, during, and after your construction project, like finding the materials, necessary equipment needs, and working with the most qualified people who can craft your project.
  • A general contractor holds the primary responsibility for the construction, improvement, or renovation project under contract and is the person who signs the construction contract for the project.
  • General contractors collect a percentage of the overall cost of a finished project to get paid. Some general contractors might charge a flat fee, but many will charge around 10 and 20 percent of the total cost of the job. The fee includes the cost of all materials, permits, and subcontractors.
  • To become a general contractor, you have to finish a 60-hour pre-licensure course and then pass a test. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) awards general contractor licenses. For permits or licenses, commercial construction contracts need to contact their local county building offices.
  • A residential general contractor only works on one- to two-family homes that are no more than three stories tall, and are above grade or ground level.
  • A general contractor schedules and manages the scope of the subcontractors’ work, but the subcontractors assume liability for the work they have completed on the project. For example, if there is a problem with an electrician’s work, the homeowner needs to contact the general contractor. The general contractor will arrange for the electrician to come back and warranty their work.
  • There are many items a residential construction contract should include, depending on the project. These examples are not to provide a standard for a contract, that is a question for your lawyer. Some examples of what you should consider in your contract include:
    • The project scope – what work is going to be done?
    • Homeowner selections – what choices do you have to make in picking finishes, fixtures, tile layout, and more?
    • Project base price and selections allowances – Typically bigger projects have various fixed costs, like labor, subcontractors, equipment, and more.
    • Selections allowances – As the homeowner, you can decide you want that tub, even though it’s $200 more than the allowance budget. What you spend is your choice. 

Google is a good place to start researching general contractors in your area.  Houzz is also a great resource to look up companies and reviews. 

It is very important to ensure the general contractor you find holds the appropriate license, carries general liability insurance, and if they have employees, workers compensation.

Here’s a break down of some Boulder County Licensed Contractors by Type, 

  • Class A – Commercial or residential construction
  • Class B – Residential work; Commercial remodeling or tenant finish
  • Class C – One and two-family residential
  • Roofing – New roofing, re-roofing
  • Class M – Includes but not be limited to deconstruction, masonry, grading and excavations, solar photo-voltaic equipment installation and repair, window replacements, re-siding, installation of listed wood-burning appliances, 1-story pre-engineered agricultural buildings that do not contain habitable space, electrical, HVAC, or plumbing.

You can read more about Boulder County Licenses here.

Tectonic Design Build holds a Class C builder license and is an insured contractor in Boulder, Colorado.

Have any more questions? The Tectonic Design Build team is happy to assist you.