Kushnick | Pallaci PLLC Attorney At Law

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager: Unraveling the Distinctions in the Construction Industry

General Contractor vs. Construction Manager: Unraveling the Distinctions in the Construction Industry

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

When undertaking a construction project, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the key players involved. Two critical roles in the construction industry are the general contractor and the construction manager. While they both contribute significantly to the successful completion of a project, they have distinct roles and functions. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences between a general contractor and a construction manager, exploring their unique responsibilities, skill sets, and contributions to the construction process.

1. Definitions and Roles

A General Contractor is typically the primary entity responsible for the overall construction project. They are often hired by the client or project owner and are responsible for executing the project from start to finish. General contractors are involved in various aspects, including planning, coordination, and construction execution. They have a deep understanding of the building process, construction materials, and local regulations. They manage subcontractors, procure materials, and ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

On the other hand, a Construction Manager is a professional hired by the owner or developer to oversee and coordinate the entire construction project. Their role is more focused on the management and coordination aspects rather than physically performing the construction work. Construction managers work closely with architects, engineers, and general contractors to ensure the project progresses smoothly, adheres to the design and budget, and meets the required quality standards.

2. Project Involvement

A General Contractor is involved in the construction project from the very beginning. They often participate in the pre-construction phase, collaborating with the project owner, architects, and engineers to review plans, offer cost estimates, and provide valuable input on construction methods. Once the project moves to the construction phase, the general contractor takes charge of hiring subcontractors, managing the construction site, and overseeing the day-to-day operations.

A Construction Manager, on the other hand, is typically brought on board during the pre-construction phase. They are involved in the planning, design, and procurement stages. Construction managers help with selecting the right contractors, establishing project timelines, and creating a comprehensive budget. During the construction phase, they act as a liaison between the project owner and the various parties involved, monitoring progress and addressing any issues that arise.

3. Responsibilities

The General Contractor bears significant responsibility for the successful completion of the project. They are accountable for the construction quality, safety protocols, adhering to regulations, and delivering the project on time and within the agreed budget. General contractors are skilled at managing construction teams, ensuring they have the necessary resources and equipment to carry out the work efficiently.

The Construction Manager, on the other hand, focuses on project planning, organization, and coordination. They take a more strategic approach, working to optimize the project’s performance and efficiency. Construction managers use their expertise to mitigate risks, resolve conflicts, and ensure effective communication among all parties. While they may not perform the physical construction tasks, their role is pivotal in keeping the project on track and avoiding delays.

4. Skill Sets

General Contractors are typically experienced construction professionals with hands-on knowledge of various construction trades. They must be well-versed in construction techniques, cost estimation, project scheduling, and team management. Leadership, problem-solving, and negotiation skills are essential for a general contractor to navigate the challenges of construction projects successfully.

Construction Managers, on the other hand, require strong organizational and communication skills. They must be adept at project planning, budgeting, and risk management. Effective decision-making and the ability to coordinate different stakeholders are vital for construction managers to achieve project objectives efficiently.

5. Project Types

General Contractors often handle smaller to medium-sized projects, such as residential homes, commercial buildings, and renovation projects. They are responsible for the physical construction and often work on-site to oversee the process.

Construction Managers are commonly involved in larger and more complex projects, such as commercial complexes, industrial facilities, and infrastructure projects. They focus on the management and coordination of multiple construction activities and stakeholders, ensuring the project’s success from a broader perspective.


In summary, both the General Contractor and the Construction Manager play integral roles in the construction industry. While the General Contractor is responsible for physically constructing the project and managing subcontractors, the Construction Manager takes on a more supervisory role, coordinating all aspects of the project from planning to completion.

Understanding the distinctions between these roles is crucial for any construction project’s success. Hiring the right professionals for each position ensures efficient project execution, adherence to timelines, and delivery of a quality end product that satisfies the client’s requirements and expectations. Whether it’s a small residential project or a large-scale commercial venture, having a skilled and knowledgeable team of a general contractor and construction manager is key to achieving construction excellence.

More To Explore

Kushnick | Pallaci PLLC Attorney At Law​

Need Help With a Legal Issue?

From contracts, to payment application disputes to construction defect claims we can help.  We can often assess your situation and your options during a free initial consultation. Contact us at (631) 752-7100 or (212) 752-7155 to schedule an appointment or contact us via the web by clicking here.