An individual or business firm who contracts to perform all or part of a specific job.
Well at least that's the very short definition of this term! Truth is that the term General Contractor probably means so many different things to so many different people that it's almost impossible to really tag it with a real meaning. But we're always up for a challenge so here goes!
This term almost certainly must be defined by the context in which it is used. For example an individual home owner may think the term describes a contractor who performs general contracting type of work. Maybe it's the guy down the street who does small fix-it jobs or the local contractor who builds decks and may once in a while put up a small storage building. Or maybe it's the contractor who builds homes in their area.
In the world of large construction projects the term General Contractor may mean the contracting company in charge of a large project. For example the contractor who is hired to build a multi story hotel project and part of their responsibility is to hire and oversee subcontractors who perform many of the individual work process such as Excavation, HVAC, Plumbing, Concrete and Steel Work. All individual processes required to complete the project.
It's generally accepted that a General Contractor is responsible for the day to day management of a construction project. Their company may be responsible, through contract, for the design and construction of an entire project. You may find that a General Contractor will specialize in certain types of projects where they've gained experience or have expertise such as:
Institutional Construction Projects - Hospitals, Schools and Government Construction Projects
Road, Bridge and Dam Construction -
Habitational Construction Projects - Apartment Buildings, Condominiums, Hotel Projects
Residential Construction Projects - National and Local Home Builders
Airport and Other Facility Projects
Of course this list could go on and on!
It can be just as confusing from a workers compensation point of view. It is accepted that a General Contractor is a hiring contractor who oversees a project. But it's important to be aware of individual state issues with this term. You may find from state to state definitions in individual statutes that may have long reaching effects on a workers compensation policy for a General Contractor.
It is very consistant, from state to state, that General Contractors, the hiring party of a subcontractor, will be held responsible under the workers compensation act for injuries sustained by an uninsured subcontractors employees. Again, it's very important to understand the relationship between hiring parties when it comes to General Contractors, what they do and who they hire.