Houston General Contractor vs. Subcontractors

woman talking to Houston general contractor about commercial construction plans

As you’re planning a commercial construction or renovation project, you’ve probably heard a lot about contractors and subcontractors. Understanding the difference is critical for a successful project. A Houston general contractor can help large and complex construction projects. They can help supervise every aspect of construction. We’ll go over some differences between general contractors (GCs) and subcontractors, why you should hire a general contractor, and some tips for choosing the right contractor for your project.

What is a Houston General Contractor?

A general contractor is an expert you hire for a construction project. The GC is responsible for your project as a whole. They help with everything from scheduling work to overseeing construction quality. Basically, you hire a GC to take care of your project for you. GCs report to you and handle practically everything. You rely on them for scheduling, budget management, quality control, and field safety management. Your Houston general contractor also hires subcontractors for your project. 

What is a Subcontractor for Houston General Construction?

Subcontractors are professionals that your GC hires for your project. They answer directly to the general contractor, and the general contractor supervises their work. In most cases, GCs subcontract work that requires a license in a particular trade. Because of this, many use the word “trade contractor” when referring to subcontractors, as they practice solely in a certain trade.

When it comes to Houston general construction, you may need many specialized subcontractors for your project, such as:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC pros
  • Landscaping pros
  • Fire alarm and sprinkler system installers
  • Security system installers
  • Roofers
  • Concrete contractors

Now, of course, you can hire these subcontractors on your own. For instance, you might do this if you only need one type of specialist for a job, such as installing a new water line for a piece of equipment in your building. 

In theory, you can certainly also hire all the trade contractors you need for your construction project. However, for large projects like major renovations or ground-up construction, this essentially makes you the GC for your project, which requires a lot of time, resources, and skills you may not have. 

woman talking to Houston general contractor about commercial construction plans
Your Houston general contractor helps oversee your entire project.

When Should I Hire a Houston General Contractor?

Not every type of project really requires a general contractor. For instance, if you’re doing a simple remodel of your existing space and all you need is someone to apply a fresh coat of paint, you probably don’t need a GC. A good rule of thumb is if you only need one type of trade contractor, you can probably manage the project yourself. However, a Houston general contractor is a must for more intricate projects. 

Especially for commercial projects, you may not have the time or knowledge necessary to manage and oversee a construction project from beginning to end. Hiring a general contractor for this can help save you a lot of time, money, and headache. Consider how long it might take for you to spot a building code error in the electrical work, or how you would schedule your time to be on-site for every aspect of construction. These tasks typically aren’t feasible for most building owners, which is why they hire GCs to provide time, resources, and expertise for the job.

Some Benefits of Working with a Houston Commercial Construction Contractor

We’ve mentioned some of the benefits of hiring a general contractor, but there are a few lesser-known perks of choosing a qualified professional to be the GC for your construction project. The goal is to take all the pressure off your back and give responsibility to experts that take care of construction projects day in and day out. This includes screening and hiring subcontractors and taking on most of the responsibility and liability for your project.

Your Houston General Contractor Vets and Hires Subcontractors for You

One of the ways a Houston commercial construction contractor can save you a lot of time and hassle is by hiring subcontractors for you. The GC for your projects invests time in vetting potential subcontractors and choosing professionals they can trust to provide accurate, quality work that fits timelines, budgets, and safety standards. This can take a large amount of time, particularly if you’re not familiar with the construction industry. It’s one less thing you need to worry about as you begin the construction process. In addition, because the GC hires the subcontractors for the job, they report to the GC. This means you get one point of contact instead of dealing with countless contacts from each of the trade contractor companies.

The GC Takes on All Responsibility for Your Project

Another benefit that many companies don’t immediately realize is that general contractors take on all the tasks related to construction. GCs provide ongoing communication to keep you in the loop, but you’re not on the hook for making sure construction activities take place. Just to illustrate this point, here are just some of the responsibilities of general contractors:

  • Applying for permits
  • Providing construction materials
  • Providing construction labor
  • Hiring necessary subcontractors
  • Providing equipment and tools
  • Oversees quality
  • Creates and manages schedules
  • Manages budgets and cash flow
  • Pays subcontractors and vendors
  • Assesses and mitigates risks
  • Enforces safety protocols
  • Maintains detailed records
  • Communicates with building owners regularly

As you can see, hiring a Houston general contractor for your project can take a lot of tasks off your plate. In addition, general contractors take on most of the liability for the project, too. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Houston General Contractor

Of course, not all general contractors are created equal. The GC is possibly the most important company you will hire for your construction project. Therefore, you need to make sure you choose an experienced professional that is the right fit for your project. Hiring a sub-par GC for your construction project can cause a lot of trouble for you in the short- and long-term. There are many things to look for from a general contractor. Here are a couple that many building owners accidentally gloss over.

Ensure Quality Relationships with Reputable Subcontractors

We mentioned earlier that the general contractor is responsible for hiring subcontractors for your commercial construction project. Typically GCs keep a list of subcontractors they can trust to provide good quality services and competitive pricing. Also, GCs and subcontractors must communicate a lot and be on the same page for a successful project. Therefore, you want to choose a general contractor with strong relationships with quality subcontractors. Asking about these relationships can help as you consider different GCs for your construction project.

Make Sure the GC is Bonded and Insured

Another important question to ask is whether your general contractor is bonded and insured. This is critical, because otherwise you could be liable for a variety of accidents. Insurance helps cover costs for injuries, damages, and other accidents. It extends to their employees, subcontractors, vehicles, and more to help cover costs should the unexpected happen. 

A surety bond is a contract between you and the general contractor saying they will complete your project and meet all agreed upon terms. If, for any reason, the contractor can’t finish your project, the bond covers costs needed to hire another company to complete the work. Choosing bonded and insured professionals helps protect you in several ways, so make sure you ask about bonding and for certificates of insurance before hiring a GC.

Momentum General Contractors – Your Trusted Commercial General Contractor

If you’re considering a commercial construction project, you need a team of expert professionals on your side. As a leading general contractor in Houston, we offer comprehensive services to fit your needs and budget. We offer construction solutions for all types and sizes of projects, from small restaurants to large warehouses. Our team can handle everything from design to project close-out to streamline the construction process. Request a bid today from our team at Momentum General Contractors!