How to Become a General Contractor: What You Need to Know

What You Need to Know to Be a General Contractor

If you’re interested in construction, have a good eye for project management, and have excellent people skills, then a career as a general contractor could be in your future.

As a general contractor, you’ll take on projects from start to finish as the one in charge. You will be the boss, and you will be responsible for the success or failure of the projects you choose.

Is General Contracting the Right Career for You?

Are you passionate about construction and project management?

When you’re deciding on a career, you need to choose one that’s right for you. If you’re enthusiastic about the career you’re considering, then you’re on the right track, and you’ll be eager to learn about it and get started. But if you choose a career for other reasons, then chances are pretty good you won’t have the drive you need to excel.

To figure out if general contracting is the right career for you, ask yourself: “Would I work as a general contractor if I had all the money I ever needed for the rest of my life?”

If your answer is yes, then you are on the right track, and general contracting is the career for you. If you answer no, then what is it you want to do for the rest of your life?

As a general contractor, you will be responsible for an entire construction project, and that means you’ll be responsible for construction site safety, getting required permits, working within budget constraints, meeting deadlines, dealing with delays, subcontracting work when necessary, working with renovation plans and estimates, and choosing your workforce and managing its payroll. Here’s a glimpse of these important aspects of general contracting.


It’s your responsibility to make sure a construction site is safe for all the people working or visiting the area. Failure to do so can result in people getting hurt, fatalities, and lawsuits. Make safety your number one priority.


Whether you are working on new construction or a renovation, you will need to acquire any permits required by federal, state, and local levels of government.

Budgets, Costs, and Payroll

Budgets can make or break a project. Keeping costs within a project’s budget rests on your shoulders. It’s easy to go over budget, especially when problems arise. You’ll need to find ways to solve those problems without going over budget and without compromising the quality of the work.

Another task affecting your project cost is managing payroll, which includes having the right mix of people for the jobs needed as well as keeping an eye on overtime costs.

Your Workforce

Hiring and managing a strong work crew is one of the most important things you can do for a successful project. Without the right workforce, you will face problems, missed deadlines, and lower-quality construction work. This is where your people skills come in.

Deadlines and Delays

Things happen, and many unforeseen occurrences can delay a project. For example:

  • You’re digging a basement, and it rains for a week straight.
  • One of your key employees is off sick for a few days.
  • There is a shortage of materials you need.
  • Your equipment breaks down.

You get the idea. Keep in mind that, as a general contractor, you will always have to deal with something happening to mess up the project schedule, and you will always be fighting against time.

One thing you can do to deal with the inevitability of delays is to put extra time in the schedule by a couple of weeks, or even a month when you give a quote for the project. Then you have a better chance of coming in ahead of schedule.

Another thing you can do when you bid for a job is to let your client know that you’ll have the job done by a certain time frame unless there are issues beyond your control, like weather disturbances, shortages of materials, or changes made to the construction plan.


Don’t worry if your project requires construction expertise or skill that you don’t have. For example, perhaps you have a project that requires electro-mechanical engineering, and that’s not something you know how to do. That’s okay. You can subcontract for those jobs as long as you hire the right subcontractor.

General Contracting for Renovations and Estimates

When it comes to renovation projects, keep in mind there are a lot of unseen issues that will only be revealed when your team starts tearing out old floors, walls, examining foundations, and so on.

For example, you could find mold or asbestos in older homes, and they require specialized cleaning and removal before any work can continue at the site. Foundations could be cracked and need repair. Plumbing and electrical wiring could need replacement. These are all issues you can’t see until you have started the renovation.

One of your most important skills will be the ability to provide reliable estimates and to let the client know what issues might come into play beforehand. The longer you work in general contracting, the better you’ll be at providing accurate estimates.

You could also come up with a solution in which you and your client agree ahead of time that if any issues such as mold, faulty wiring, plumbing problems, and so forth, arise, then extra time and money will be needed to complete the project. Make sure each additional issue is anticipated, discussed, and agreed upon in writing with your client.

How to Learn about General Contracting and Gain Experience

One of the best ways to prepare for a general contracting career is to look for a successful contractor you can shadow or interview. With either approach, make sure you come up with a list of questions for the contractor so you make the most of your time together and that you respect the time of the people helping you.

A Collection of Articles about General Contracting Written by Various Authors

In this section, you’ll find a wide variety of articles about general contracting, organized into sections for your convenience. Each article is written by a different author, giving you an overall perspective of what’s involved in this career.

If you’re in a hurry, bookmark this page so you can come back to go through this information as needed.

How to Become a General Contractor

How to Become a General Contractor– Contractor Training Center

How to Become a Contractor

How to Become a General Contractor in 5 Steps

How to Become a General Contractor in 6 Simple Steps | Next insurance

Contractor Careers & Programs | How to Become a Contractor

Job Outlook

General Contractor: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

General Contractor Contracts

Using a General Contractor Agreement

General Contractor Agreement Forms |

Free Construction Contract Template | PDF & Word Sample | FormSwift

General Contractor License

General Contractor License Requirements by State – Full Guide

General Contractor License Requirements By State | CoverWallet

Apply for a Contractors License – Exam Required

What Does A General Contractor Do

What Does A General Contractor Do? | Services, Job Description & More – Treasured Spaces

What Does a General Contractor Do | Hire a General Contractor

A Day in the Life

Day in the Life of a Subcontractor

Character Traits

Qualities of a Good Contractor | Jeemco Inc

17 Characteristics of Successful Contractors – How Many Characterize You? | Contracting Business


Top 6 Skills To Expect From Your General Contractor

General ContractorSkills and Knowledge


General Contractor Hourly Pay | PayScale

How Much Does A General Contractor Make In United States?

Getting The Job

Job Preparation Resources You Need to Get That Job

Resume Samples

General Contractor Resume Samples | JobHero

Best General Contractor Resume Example | LiveCareer


7 Tools That Contractors Swear By – Bob Vila

General Contractor – Tools by Trade – IRWIN TOOLS


Chapters | Associated General Contractors of America

List of Construction Professional Associations & Organizations – JobStars

Industry Terminology

Understanding Construction Terms and Lingo – BigRentz


10 Great Sources for General Contractor News – Fieldlens

The 11 Best Blogs and Magazines for Contractors |

10 construction industry Twitter accounts you need to follow | Construction Dive

15 construction documentaries and TV series you have to watch – LetsBuild

Best Home Improvement TV Shows List

Famous General Contractors

Famous General Contractors | List of the Top Well-Known General Contractors

Best 15 General Contractors in USA | Houzz

Top 115 Contractor Firms | Building Design + Construction

Job Opportunities


Books from Amazon Related to General Contractors

Google Book Search Related to Becoming A General Contractor

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In this section, you’ll find the latest information related to Becoming A General Contractor, including the latest news, Google search results, videos, what people are tweeting, and more.

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