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Insiders Guide What Its Really Like to Be a General Contractor

Being a general contractor is not just about overseeing construction projects; it’s about being the mastermind behind every aspect of the build. From understanding the intricacies of each trade to managing the business side of things, being a general contractor is no easy feat. In this article, we’ll delve into what it’s really like to be a general contractor and explore the challenges and rewards of this demanding profession.

Understanding the Role

At its core, the role of a general contractor is to coordinate and manage construction projects from start to finish. This involves overseeing everything from site work and utilities to concrete, framing, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems.

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A general contractor must have a comprehensive understanding of each aspect of the construction process to ensure that the project runs smoothly.

Managing Subcontractors

One of the primary responsibilities of a general contractor is to hire and manage subcontractors. These are the skilled tradespeople who specialize in specific aspects of the construction process, such as electrical work, plumbing, and HVAC installation. The general contractor must coordinate the schedules of these subcontractors to ensure that each phase of the project is completed on time and within budget.

Running a Business

In addition to managing the construction process, a general contractor is also responsible for running a business. This involves handling administrative tasks such as invoicing, payroll, and financial reporting. A general contractor must also stay up-to-date with industry regulations and standards to ensure compliance with building codes and safety regulations.

Problem-Solving Skills

Being a general contractor requires strong problem-solving skills. Construction projects are complex, and unexpected challenges can arise at any time. A general contractor must be able to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to overcome obstacles and keep the project on track.

Experience is Key

While formal education can provide a foundation of knowledge, experience is invaluable in the world of general contracting. Many successful general contractors start out working in the trades, gaining hands-on experience in various aspects of construction before moving into a management role. This practical experience provides invaluable insights into the intricacies of the construction process.

The Residential Contractor Perspective

While the role of a general contractor can vary depending on the type of projects they specialize in, residential contractors focus primarily on building or renovating homes. These contractors work closely with homeowners to bring their vision to life, overseeing everything from initial design to final construction. Residential contractors must have excellent communication skills to ensure that they understand their clients’ needs and preferences.


Being a general contractor is a demanding yet rewarding profession. It requires a diverse skill set, including strong project management, communication, and problem-solving skills. While the role comes with its challenges, the satisfaction of seeing a project come to life and knowing that you played a key role in its success makes it all worthwhile. So, if you’re considering a career in general contracting, be prepared for hard work, but know that the opportunities for growth and fulfillment are endless.


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