Regarding construction projects, two roles are essential to the success of the project – the general contractor and the project manager. Though they have similar titles, these roles play very different parts in the construction process. This writing will discuss the key differences between a general contractor and a project manager. We will also explore which role is better for your specific project.

One of the essential decisions you’ll face while building a project is which delivery method to utilize. That choice impacts all phases of the process and the budget, schedule, and quality of the finished work. The normal procedure is to use a design-bid-build framework with a general contractor. Is it better to hire a general contractor or project manager?

General Contractor

A designer usually creates the design handed to a general contractor. The project is bid to general contractors and awarded to the lowest bidder. It is how most procurement departments and project delivery teams operate.

Project Manager

In contrast to general contractors who charge a lump sum for overhead and profit, project management services pay a fixed price to the owner. The project manager then develops plans and acquires the resources in a collaborative and open-book fashion. Actual expenses are collected competitively and visibly, with only those costs plus the project manager’s fee being paid when the job is finished.

General Contractor vs Project Manager

The main difference between a general contractor and a project manager is that general contractors are accountable for the day-to-day procedures of the construction site. In contrast, project managers are responsible for ensuring that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.

Here are some other key differences:

  • Typically, general contractors have a team of subcontractors who they manage to complete the project, while project managers usually do not have immediate supervision over any construction workers.
  • General contractors are usually hired by developers or owners at the beginning of a project, while project managers are often brought on board later in the project.
  • General contractors develop plans and acquire resources in a collaborative and open-book fashion. Project managers develop strategies and receive help in a more secretive manner.
  • General contractors bid on projects and are awarded work based on their bid price. Project managers are paid a fixed price for their services.
  • General contractors handle the actual building of a project. In contrast to this, project managers manage and oversee the construction process. It entails a meeting with the client to obtain a clear picture of the project’s desired outcome, scope, and cost, as well as choosing the design, engineering, and general contracting firms that will complete it.


General contractors are best for those who want to be involved in the construction process and have a direct hand in managing the progress of their project. Project managers are best for those who want someone else to handle the stressful day-to-day operations of their construction project. No matter which path you decide, make sure that you do your research and hire a reputable general contractor or project manager.

Need a general contractor? Contact J Bond Construction today to discuss your needs!

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