In: Commercial Construction0
Wondering about the difference between a construction manager vs. general contractor? By the end of this post, you’ll be able to decide which is better for your project. Both have their place. Both lead to successful outcomes. It all depends on what you and your project require.

Construction Manager vs. General Contractor

Let’s dive into the managing contractor vs. construction management discussion. On the surface, they’re similar. They both work expertly during the project. But when it comes to how they are organized, secure jobs, and build relationships with the owner, you’ll see some differences.

Construction Manager


We’ll refer to the construction manager as “CM.” Your CM can be either an individual or a group. Their staff carries out the building plans. A CM or CM team will hire subcontractors to complete the project. If the build is large enough, they’ll even hire general contractors.

New Business Process for CM

Think of your CM as a collaborative partner. They’re there from the beginning and work closely with the owners. They’re selected based on their experience and qualifications. They’re paid a percentage or flat fee. The project’s total cost affects what they’re paid. But with a general contractor, you’ll have competition for profits. Not with CMs, though.

Your CM will determine timelines and prices by working directly with subcontractors. They’ll be a part of the design phase. In fact, all pre-construction plans are reviewed by a CM. They make suggestions, advise, and provide estimates. They’re also there through construction and until the very end.

General Contractor


A general contractor is referred to as a “GC.” A GC comes with their own set of employees. They have appointed and trained foremen who run the job site. You’ll also see skilled trade workers alongside them. They’ll come fully staffed with carpenters and other general laborers. They’re a functioning business unit.

New Business Process for GC

They’ll reach into their variety of subcontractors. Likely, they’ve worked with these subcontractors on other projects. There’s a great sense of camaraderie. And that’s valuable to a project and its completion. Everybody is used to working with each other. They clique as a team. Procedures and expectations are already in place. So, that’s a plus.

You’ll also find GCs specializing in certain areas of construction. They might specialize in construction sectors or perhaps masonry. You’ll find GCs working in both residential and commercial construction projects.

If a CG spends less than the bid price, then they make an even bigger profit. Further, issues almost always arise. These won’t be included in your contract. You’ll have to submit additional fees to cover such costs. The relationship with the owner shifts here, of course. It’s more competitive and less involved on the front end.

Construction Manager/General Contractor Combo

You’ve may have heard of this working situation. Sometimes, a general contractor (GC) could have worked for an owner on several successful projects. They’ve developed an understanding of expectations and the cooperative bond is strong. The owner will occasionally request the GC to step into the construction manager (CM) role on a new project.

It’s not about money at this point. When you find someone you trust, you’ve struck gold. You can rely on them. They’ll deliver on all points. They’ll know your style, detailed preferences, and material selections.

There’s a lot of value in such a relationship. The owner appreciates consistency. Order changes are limited. When a GC becomes your CM, you feel good about handing over the reins. They know the project as well (or even better) than you do.

Managing Contractor vs. Construction Management? Which One?

It depends. You knew we’d say that, right? Some customers opt to go with a GC. Finding the right contractor might be the only way a project gets on its feet and completed. Those lower costs will make it possible.

But a CM might mean more to you than cost. That collaborative partnership and vision could be exactly what you need from beginning to end.

If this post didn’t answer your question, check out our article about developers vs. builders.

Trust Rise with Your Construction Needs

Sometimes, you must approach your decision on a project-by-project basis. One project may call for a CM; another different build might require a GC instead. The important thing is that you’re a happy owner in the end. Both will work toward your satisfaction. Consider price, relationship, and the process before agreeing to any path.

We understand it can be tricky determining whether a contracting vs. construction lead is best. Contact Rise Construction today to get your project started the right way. We’ll listen. We’ll hear you.

We’re one of the most trusted construction companies in Houston, and we’ve got the experience it takes to guide your project to successful completion.

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