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What's The Difference Between Construction Management And General Contracting?


General contracting and construction management are methods for managing a construction project. Both serve a similar role in coordinating and managing projects. However, the organizational structure, business relationships, and project entry points are very different.
General Contracting

A general contractor handles the oversight and management of a construction project. This person handles a myriad of duties:

  • Hire and manage subcontractors
  • Communicate with and between subcontractors
  • Coordinate and schedule all work from start to finish
  • Ensure that subcontractors get paid on time
  • Supervise all work done on the project
  • Provide updates and communication to client

The GC is a person, partnership, corporation, or business entity that can manage and do construction work. The GC usually has several people working for him or her in the role of supervisors, general labor, and other trades. A GC may handle the entire project, or work on a specific part like the foundation or masonry.

A GC usually works on a bid process, based on the client's design. The client will hire the GC based on the lowest bid, best qualifications, or other criteria. If the GC is able to complete the project for less than the bid, that is profit. If the project has unforeseen costs, the client must pay extra, change the project specs, or reduce the project's scope. This sometimes put the GC and client into a battle of wills. From a team perspective, a GC usually has a well-developed team of subcontractors and tradesmen who work on the GC's projects regularly.

Construction Management

A construction manager does many of the same tasks as a general contractor. However, the CM does not work directly on the site providing general labor or other trade work. The CM takes on the role of a project manager instead. He or she does the overall planning, coordination, and control of the project. The CM's focus is on providing the client with a functional project.

A CM comes on to a project earlier than a GM usually does. The CM has input into the design process, making recommendations on desired features, specifications and materials selected. The CM will often make suggestions focused on increasing the value of the project upon completion and for making the project run smoothly.

The construction manager works for a percentage of the project costs. A CM is usually chosen for qualifications over lowest price. A construction manager will hire subcontractors and tradesmen usually through a bid process.

If you need someone to manage your construction project, give Talon/LPE a call. Talon/LPE specializes in general contracting as well as environmental services and environmental drilling. We serve Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas.