Category: Construction Services

Managing General Contractors

Whether you’re planning a new construction project or a complete renovation, general contractors (also known as GCs) are the professionals who can make your build happen. GCs are responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a project, management of vendors and trades, and communicating with all involved parties.

General Contractors

GCs are typically contracted from start to finish on projects, while subcontractors get hired on shorter durations. This exposes GCs to different property exposures. Visit Website to learn more.

Whether it’s wielding a carpentry hammer or plumbing the pipework, subcontractors are the fuel powering construction projects. They’re the backbone that helps project managers keep the entire team moving forward – a task that requires effective communication, collaboration and a shared vision of success.

A general contractor’s relationship with their subcontractors begins with the bidding process. GCs curate a list of pre-qualified specialty contractors, and then evaluate them by reviewing past performance, safety ratings, references and financial stability. They also establish benchmarks for quality standards to ensure alignment with the project’s goals and requirements.

The GC will then create a cost proposal to submit to the client. This requires the GC to perform quantity takeoffs and develop detailed scheduling, labor and material estimates. The GC will include all of the project requirements, including budgets for materials, equipment rental, labor, office space, worker’s compensation, liability insurance and other expenses.

On a jobsite, the GC will often involve all of the trade partners in planning sessions and collaborative problem-solving, as well. The use of pull planning, a team scheduling technique, fosters this partnership and allows all of the unique skill sets to converge on a common goal: successful project delivery.

A GC will likely also implement a system that includes regular inspections and continuous monitoring of subcontractors to ensure consistent, high-quality work. This can help minimize legal disputes, financial discrepancies and operational disruptions on a project.

Finally, a GC will manage the payment cycle by ensuring that the property owner sends payments to the correct tier of contractors. This is crucial, as delays in the process can lead to project overruns that put everyone at risk.

The ability to oversee multiple aspects of a large construction project, from the foundational infrastructure to the finished details, is a requirement for any general contractor. In addition to strong leadership and communication skills, a general contractor must be proficient at project planning, scheduling, construction management and safety. Many GCs start out as a field contractor and learn these skills through on-the-job experience. Others pursue educational programs in construction science, building science, surveying and construction safety.

Managing the Project

When working with a general contractor, it’s important to plan out each task before beginning work. This will help reduce or eliminate scope creep and make it easier to track project progress throughout construction. It’s also an opportunity to clarify who does what for the project and establish any steps that require management or stakeholder approval. This will help avoid any misunderstandings down the road and ensure that all parties are aware of what is expected of them.

The first step in managing a construction project involves bidding the job to contractors. The bidding process varies by project type, delivery method and other factors. For example, if the project is being built using a lump-sum contract, the contractor will set one price for the entire project and will only be paid when the build is complete. The owner will then choose a contractor through either an open or closed bid process. Open bidding is typically used for public projects and allows all bidders to submit a proposal. Closed bidding is often reserved for specialized projects that require a high level of expertise or knowledge.

Once the general contractor is selected, the preconstruction phase begins. This is when the GC or construction manager will lay the groundwork for construction, including securing any necessary permits and obtaining project equipment. They will also assess the constructability of the design and work with the architecture and engineering teams to ensure that the final product will meet the project goals and objectives.

At this stage, the GC or construction manager will evaluate and select subcontractor partners and engage in contract negotiations with them. Once the project is underway, the CM will continue to monitor the GC’s performance and make sure that it adheres to the contract stipulations and the owner’s wishes.

In addition to ensuring that the GC or CM is performing their duties, the CM will provide regular reports to the project team and stakeholders to keep everyone updated on project progress. This will help ensure that the GC is on schedule and that the project is staying within budget. It will also help to prevent costly mistakes that could halt the construction timeline or cause other issues on the project.

Managing the Budget

A construction project’s budget is an integral piece of the overall build process. It helps define and prioritize tasks for crews, provides a framework for project milestones and expectations, and gives the client insight into expected costs for their home.

It is important to note that the project budget is only as accurate as the estimating process behind it. As such, it is essential that general contractors use data-driven estimates to craft their budgets, and continue to monitor their progress throughout the project for any cost variances that could affect final pricing for homebuyers.

The first step in creating a budget is to examine the bidding documents and project plans to estimate building costs. These include hard and soft costs, which are the monetary investments in the project that can be tracked and measured. Hard costs include materials, labor and professional services. Soft costs, on the other hand, include miscellaneous expenses that are not tied to a specific task or activity, such as office utilities, productivity software, and safety supplies.

Often, the biggest variable in the construction budget is labor. This includes tradespeople and subcontractors, as well as payroll, taxes, vacation, and sick time. It is also important to take into account the local labor market and wage rates when estimating labor costs, as this can drastically affect the cost of a project.

After establishing the initial budget, it is important to sit down with the client and walk through the numbers with them. This is a great opportunity to explain the thought process that went into each number and work through any objections.

Change orders can wreak havoc on budgets, so it’s crucial to address them quickly and effectively. Be sure to communicate how the changes impact your budgetary and cash flow needs, as well as how you can find creative solutions to help keep everyone on track. Additionally, utilize a tool that allows you to organize and manage change orders to minimize disruptions to the build schedule.

Managing the budget can be challenging, but it’s essential for general contractors to get it right in order to deliver quality projects on time and within their targeted price range. By ensuring that all the necessary elements are included in a construction budget, and monitoring progress throughout the project, general contractors can keep costs down for their clients.

Managing the Schedule

A strong construction schedule is a critical piece to managing the scope of a project. It provides a framework for completion and gives you the physical, human and financial resources you need to do your part. It also lets you provide proper project takeoffs and estimates when bidding for contracts, increasing your chances of winning the contract.

As a general contractor, it is your responsibility to manage the construction schedule on your projects. This involves scheduling crews, identifying materials, communicating with the project team and coordinating with other specialty contractors on site. It also requires you to track upcoming milestones and deadlines and manage the effects of delays on the schedule.

One way to improve your scheduling is to use a Critical Path Method (CPM). This identifies the sequence of tasks that must be completed in order to reach milestones and complete the project. It is used to plan and control the construction of a commercial building or facility, and is an important tool for planning, tracking progress, and estimating project delivery dates.

Managing the schedule also includes creating a Work Breakdown Structure and Gantt chart for your project. This helps you identify and allocate the resources needed to perform the task, including labor, equipment, and materials. It also allows you to establish relationships between tasks and determine if any overlap or duplication is occurring. For example, you may find that drywall installation can be performed concurrently with roofing, but that underlayment installation should precede laying shingles, since they are dependent on each other to protect and seal the roof.

Another important aspect of managing the schedule is to create a realistic estimate of how long it will take to perform each task. This can be done by reviewing similar past projects and seeking updated prices, availability, and lead times from vendors. It is also important to factor in any seasonal or site-specific factors that could affect the pace of work.

Lastly, you must keep your project on budget. This is especially important if you are working with a completion-based payment, where the project owner or GC withholds payments until the project reaches substantial completion. This is a common payment method for construction projects, but it is very challenging to manage when there are delays in the critical path.

14-storey tower built in record time by offsite specialist

British Offsite has completed construction to the topping-out stage of a 14-storey residential tower in Southend “in just a few months”.

The £53m (GDV) Victoria Central apartment building has been built using the firm’s factory built UniPanel system allowing the envelope of the tower to be completed in 30% less time than traditional building methods.

British Offsite sells its exterior building and interior fitout components to house builders and contractors including sister company Weston Homes.

At Victoria Central British Offsite supplied and assembled 665 UniPanels across the 14 floors, delivering a structure covering almost 2,640 lineal metres.

Managing Director Shaun Weston said: “British Offsite is delighted to have completed the residential tower at Victoria Central in 30% less time than it would have taken using traditional building methods.

“Our MMC products help reduce the risk and delays in construction, and help to deliver occupiable homes faster. As Victoria Central demonstrates our UniPanel system is highly flexible and can be used for low-rise houses, but also projects like Southend-on-Sea where the requirement is for mid-rise and high-rise schemes in high density urban areas.”

The firm operates from a purpose built facility in Braintree which provides 75,000 sqft of high-tech off-site manufacturing, assembly points and quality control.

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Eutopia Homes lands deal for Gloucester £70m resi scheme

Brownfield developer Eutopia Homes has acquired an 8-acre brownfield site in central Gloucester for a £70m residential-led regeneration project.

Eutopia Homes is planning on bringing forward proposals early next year for up to 300 homes in a mix of single-family homes for rent, alongside city centre flats adjacent to Gloucester City train station.

The deal is the third Eutopia Homes has made with Network Rail, following previous transactions for Exmouth Junction in Exeter.

Scott Hammond, founder and CEO at Eutopia Homes, said:“We are excited to bring forward this complicated brownfield site for a new balanced community of homes for sale and rent.

“Recent investment by the University of Gloucester for the acquisition of the old Debenhams store for a new campus, along with the City Council’s recent investment in driving a new cyber hub for the UK in close proximity to Gloucester Council’s HQ, will bring more employment to the City, which in turn will drive up the demand for high-quality housing.”

Chenavari Investment Managers funded the land deal, which is the fifth for Eutopia Homes.

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Keltbray raids Skanska Cementation for piling boss

Keltbray has lured Skanska Cementations’s Paul Wiltcher to take up the role of operations director at its piling division.

Wiltcher spent nearly five years as Skanska Cementation operations director and brings over 25 years experience in the piling and foundations industry.

During that time he has worked on many complex major projects, most notably, Amsterdam NoordZuid Lijn, NLE Battersea Station Box, the New US Embassy in London, 21 Moorfields and London City Airport.

Stuart Norman, managing director, Piling, said: “We are delighted to welcome Paul to the team. Paul joins us with a wealth of experience having worked for some of the best specialist piling and foundations companies in the UK and abroad.

“We are delighted to have him join us where he will have a senior role to play in delivering our core mission statement and values.”

£200m London Holborn Viaduct offices approved

Royal London Asset Management has got the planning green light for a £200m office scheme next to Holborn Viaduct in the City of London.

The 36,000 sq m offices designed by PLP Architecture will see the demolition of three buildings with the foundation retained to reduce the scheme’s carbon footprint.

City of London planners yesterday backed the scheme which will stand 10 floors tall on Holborn Viaduct and 12 floors on Farringdon Street.

It is the eighth major office scheme to gain planning in the City so far this year, underlying growing momentum for a new wave of major building projects post-pandemic.

The Royal London Asset Management scheme is targeting BREEAM Outstanding and will reuse existing building materials from demolition while seeking to replace around a third of cement-based materials with low carbon alternatives during construction.

A new publicly accessible step-free lift will move pedestrians from the lower Farringdon Street up to Holborn Viaduct.

Royal London Asset Management building will incorporate the existing Holborn Viaduct Gatehouse building and also provide public step free access with a new lift

During the three-year construction programme the project will support an average of around 450 jobs annually.

The development supports sustainable travel with an additional 499 long-stay and 34 short-stay cycle parking places.

Aerial view of proposed building from Farringdon Street (lelt) and view from Holborn Viaduct elevation


Head of Development at Royal London Asset Management, Philip Sutton, said: “We are thrilled that planning permission has been approved.

“This is an exciting opportunity to regenerate this corner of Holborn Viaduct, delivering a BREEAM Outstanding building which makes a significant contribution to the wider public realm.

“The development will strengthen London’s reputation as a global business centre, providing quality commercial space that prioritises wellness and future ways of working, whilst also strengthening our market leading sustainability standards.”


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Housing giants face council fury over delays to promised school

A council is considering legal action against three of the country’s biggest house builders to take control of a delayed school building project forming part of a major mixed-use scheme in Barry.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council said it will consider legal action to take charge of building Barry Waterfront School if developer the Waterfront Consortium refuses to hand over control voluntarily.

The council said the Waterfront Consortium – of Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Homes – has repeatedly delayed work on the school and has still not given assurances over a construction start date.

Cllr Lis Burnett, Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “Enough is enough. It is regrettable that we have reached this point, but the consortium has proven it has no interest in building the primary school it promised as part of the Waterfront Development.

“I, along with other Council representatives, have held numerous meetings with them in an effort to address this matter but have been unable to make any real progress.

“At every turn we have been met with excuses, yet the developers’ house building operation does not seem to be suffering from the same problems, which is frankly astonishing.

“I can only conclude that while happy to build houses for commercial gain, the Waterfront Consortium has no interest in fulfilling its obligation to build a community.

“It is not only in breach of its legal commitments, but also local and national government polices around placemaking.

“The consortium has broken promises to residents of the Vale of Glamorgan and that is something we are not prepared to accept.

“This situation has been tolerated for long enough. We have formally written to the Waterfront Consortium asking that it sign over the school site to us. If the developers do not agree, we will explore what legal action is available to allow us to take control.”

The Council has previously taken enforcement action against developers at Barry Waterfront after they began building residential properties without appropriate planning permission.

A Temporary Stop Notice was also previously issued preventing the building and selling of new homes on the waterfront until significant progress had been made on delivering a complex of commercial space, including bars and restaurants, known as the District Centre.

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£100m landmark Portsmouth Uni project approved

The University of Portsmouth has gained planning for its £100m Victoria Park major teaching building.

The 12-storey Victoria Park Academic Building project is being tendered on a single-stage design and build basis with the University hoping to make an award in February to start work in Spring 2022.

BAM, Bowmer & Kirkland, Kier, Morgan Sindall, Vinci and Wates are understood to be in the bidding for the project.

Designs by architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and MEP consultant Buro Happold have been developed to RIBA Design Stage 4. These are targeting a top BREEAM rating of ‘Outstanding’.

Photovoltaic panels cover the angled roof, producing renewable power and a high performing façade will manage heat and light.

Park Room – view into social learning landings

Once complete in 2024, the building will house the Faculty of Business & Law and part of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Accommodation will also include a ground floor café and event space and restaurant on the top floor with roof terrace.

New academic building facilities

250-seat and 500-seat lecture theatresTwo 150-seat flat classroomsCourt room, laboratories and a video production suiteGround floor events and exhibition spaceOffices and meeting roomsRoof terrace and sky restaurant

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JCB workers get £750 Christmas bonus

JCB workers are being given a £750 Christmas bonus.

The bonus will be paid to more than 6,000 employees – including agency staff with over 12 months’ service – working at JCB’s 11 plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham.

JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald said: “This year we will produce a record number of machines and this bonus rewards a tremendous team effort. We are still facing severe challenges caused by unprecedented supply chain disruption which is impacting on production, and we expect this to continue for the first six months of next year.”

Toby Bell, 27,  is a Business Degree Apprentice at JCB’s World HQ in Rocester, Staffs, and this is his first JCB Christmas bonus.

He said: “It’s a big motivator to get rewarded like this and a real boost. It’s really kind of JCB to give us a Christmas bonus and to be recognised for the hard work everyone has put in this year.”

Early Careers Scheme Leader Holly Broadhurst, 27, of Leek, said: “This has come as a really fantastic surprise. It’s tremendous that everyone’s hard work and dedication has been rewarded.”

Backhoe Loader Team Leader Kevin Pickles, 40, of Mickleover, near Derby, added: “It’s brilliant. Everyone is buzzing in the factory today. It’s going to give my two kids, Freddie, five and Amelia, two, a great Christmas.”

Backhoe Loader Production Support Specialist Kait Williams, 21, of Church Leigh, near Uttoxeter, added “It’s brilliant news. This bonus is going to give everyone a great Christmas.”

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M Group buys Babcock power lines arm for £50m

Infrastructure specialist contractor M Group Services has bought Babcock’s Overhead Line Power business for £50m.

Following the acquisition, the business will be rebranded to form part of Morrison Energy Services, sitting alongside and enhancing existing electricity, gas and green energy capabilities.

In latest accounts to March 2021, the power business reported total revenues of £70m and pre-tax profit around £7m before allocated overheads.

The overhead line electric transmission and distribution business counts among its clients including National Grid, Scottish Power Energy Networks and Western Power Distribution.

Jim Arnold, Chief Executive M Group Services, said: “It is important for us to deliver sustainable growth both organically and through acquisitions and we are pleased to strategically enhance our capabilities with this acquisition which provides the means to accelerate our growth by delivering a greater breadth of electricity transmission services to our clients.

“The culture, capabilities and reputation that have become synonymous with this business make it a perfect fit for us. We are delighted to welcome David Maddocks and his team to M Group Services.”

David Maddocks, Director of Babcock Power, added: “I am extremely excited to be joining M Group Services. Our overhead line capability compliments the existing range of services and provides a solid platform to grow in a market that has great opportunity for expansion.”

This acquisition takes the total number of strategic acquisitions made by M Group Services to 15 since December 2016.

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Balfour Beatty US arm to pay £49m over military housing fraud

Balfour Beatty’s US operation has been ordered to pay out £49m after pleading guilty to major fraud on its military housing maintenance contract.

The Balfour Beatty Communities pay-out is made up of £25m in fines and £24m in damages relating to its military housing contract at 21 Air Force, 18 Navy, and 16 Army bases across the United States, in which tens of thousands of service members and their families lived.

As part of the settlement with the US Department for Justice, BBC pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and has agreed to the appointment of an independent compliance monitor for a three-year period, while it has also been placed on probation for three years.

According to court documents, from around 2013 to around 2019, Balfour Beatty Communities staff falsified performance information for incentive fee requests at various military housing projects.

Specifically, BBC staff altered or manipulated data in property management software and destroyed and falsified resident comment cards to falsely inflate performance to obtain pay performance incentive fees that BBC had not earned.

US Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said: “Instead of promptly repairing housing for U.S. service members as required, BBC lied about the repairs to pocket millions of dollars in performance bonuses.”

“This pervasive fraud was a consequence of BBC’s broken corporate culture, which valued profit over the welfare of servicemembers.

“Today’s global resolution sends a clear message to companies that if they do not maintain adequate compliance programs, voluntarily self-disclose misconduct, and fully cooperate with the government, they will pay a price that outweighs the profits they once reaped.”

In a statement today Balfour said:  “Balfour Beatty is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct. 

“The wrongdoing that took place is completely contrary to the way the company expects its people to behave.

“The company apologises for the actions of Communities to all its stakeholders. It has been made clear to all employees that breaches of policies, procedures, or law will not be tolerated.

“Communities welcomes the appointment of the independent compliance monitor and looks forward to a constructive engagement.”

In 2019, the Balfour Beatty undertook an in-depth review of operations at Communities and, as a result, introduced a series of changes to prevent misconduct from occurring in the future.

These involved therestructuring of the Communities management team including the additional appointment of several key executives and aChief Compliance Officer for the US. 

It said: “Communities also has enhanced its ethics and compliance training for all employees and has made significant improvements to the maintenance work order processing system, underpinned by enhanced controls and protocols that are aimed to prevent misuse and strengthen oversight.”


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