As a general contractor, you wear many hats—from managing subcontractor and vendor relationships, to planning projects, to ensuring safety requirements are met, to overseeing the actual construction sites and being responsible for workflow management and overall progress.
What’s more, the construction industry is expected to grow significantly this year, especially in the areas of nonresidential, institutional, industrial, and resiliency construction. This growth is expected partially because large companies including Amazon and Microsoft will be launching major building projects in the upcoming year. Continued growth, coupled with an expected shortage of labor, will mean a greater need for innovation and efficiency for general contractors as the year progresses.
As the industry leader in heavy equipment rentals, we understand the large scope of general contractors’ projects better than anyone. We offer a variety of rentals for all types of construction projects:
BigRentz is your single source supplier for all your rental needs. We can handle all your equipment rental logistics, including booking, extending, and terminating your rentals—anywhere in the U.S. This means one phone call for you and one supplier vendor for your accounting department, instead of multiple suppliers for each job with countless different vendor codes, purchase orders, payment due dates, and sets of terms. One national company saved 250 hours per year by outsourcing their rental procurement and logistics! Read our case study to learn more.
Competitive pricing is one of the top three reasons why general contractors choose to rent from us, according to a 2016 BigRentz customer survey. With our location pages, you can now get a price quote online for any area in the U.S., so you can know exactly how much your equipment rentals will cost for each project.
The construction industry is expected to continue to have a shortage of skilled trade labor. As a result, construction companies are being forced to innovate their efforts to keep up with project demand. Methods to combat the shortage of labor include the use of technology, prefabrication, modular construction, and offsite construction, which are collectively expected to decrease the need for skilled labor by up to 50%.
Technology and automation are becoming widely adopted as complementary solutions to help companies become more efficient. For example, the use of 3-D printing is expected to increase in building new structures. Prefabrication machinery is also being utilized, so that structures are partway built by technology offsite before being installed by a worker.
In an effort to enhance general contractors’ efficiency, BigRentz’ technology solutions offer customers the ability to book, extend, and terminate their rentals completely online, saving both time and money.
It’s clear that growth in the construction industry shows no signs of slowing. However, this area is seeing some significant changes that will ultimately reshape the way projects are handled. Offsite construction is a growing trend that radically reshapes the way projects are managed onsite. Project managers rely on offsite construction for major parts of the project and may spend only a limited amount of time assembling the parts and pieces in their final destination. Purchasing pre-made modules can speed up construction significantly and allow contractors to take on a greater number of projects.
New technology on the worksite is changing how projects are managed as well. Robots can tackle dangerous tasks in pit mines or take on the monotonous and strenuous job of tying rebar. Drones offer a stunning view of the job site from above, and project management apps help tie it all together for smoother flow from beginning to end. Top contractors know the importance of following these innovations and implementing new technology when possible.
There’s great potential for anyone interested in working in the construction industry. According to the Commercial Construction Index produced by USG Corporation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 80 percent of contractors have steady or increasing backlogs. Optimism about new business prospects is on the rise, and the majority of contractors expect to see revenue growth in the coming year. Fifty-eight percent of contractors are looking to hire more workers.
For those who can’t get the labor they need, prefabricated and modular elements are an appealing solution. In fact, 62 percent of contractors are already relying on this technology. These components are particularly popular in the Northeast and Midwest where more than 60 percent of contractors are using prefabrication and modular components for their jobs. Cost savings, increased labor productivity, and a reduced schedule are among the compelling reasons contractors are choosing this option.
For the third quarter in a row, contractors expect to spend more on tools and equipment in the next six months. In the first quarter, 59 percent were expecting to increase their investments in this area. For those who don’t want to spend this money on major equipment, rentals continue to be a cost-saving solution
General contractors may work on a wide variety of projects. This can include both residential and commercial construction. In this diverse area, you might perform a complete build from the ground up, tackle renovations, or even assist with relatively minor updates. A general contractor’s job centers around management more than labor. It’s important to know how to properly evaluate a project, find the best talent, and put together a timeline.
You should begin each project by outlining what’s involved. Review the necessary steps, from the initial site preparation to those critical finishing touches. Detail the materials and equipment that you’ll need along the way and estimate the necessary cost for these items. General contractors typically handle a diverse range of projects, so renting equipment is often more affordable and appropriate than purchasing major items like boom lifts or bulldozers. Estimate the time to completion for each step and get approval from your client to start tackling the project.
In general construction management, you may find yourself responsible for every phase of the project. It’s crucial that you properly assess your equipment needs at every stage. It’s unlikely that you’ll need all your equipment rentals on-site at once. Staggering your rentals will keep the job site from becoming too cluttered and ensure that you’re dealing with only what you need for each stage of the project. Planning ahead, you can make arrangements for timely rentals, so you can work confidently knowing that the equipment you need will be delivered on time when you’re ready for it.
If you’re preparing a lot for new construction, you may need to begin with earthmoving equipment. Bulldozers move large amounts of dirt for rough grading, while drum rollers can come in for heavier compaction. You may need an excavator or trencher to lay piping. As the building comes together, lift equipment such as a scissor lift or boom lift will elevate you to greater heights, so you can tackle siding, electrical, and other projects that take place off the ground.
You may want to consider additional construction site services to streamline your project throughout all stages. A dumpster provides a convenient place for unwanted items if you’re gutting and rehabbing a building. Light towers will provide essential illumination while storage containers can keep your tools and smaller equipment safe overnight.
As most experienced contractors will tell you, projects rarely progress along the timeline as expected. Though some delays may be inevitable, it’s important to take active measures to keep things moving forward at a steady pace. Implement clear lines of communication between all your workers. Make yourself available for questions and concerns so you don’t find out about an issue once you’re already running days late on a project. Addressing questions early can help you avoid major errors down the road.
Work carefully to coordinate work between subcontractors so you can handle everything as efficiently as possible. In many cases, you’ll find that it’s possible to keep multiple subcontractors moving on the project at once. However, you need to take special care to maintain proper safety procedures for any job that requires the use of large machinery, particularly if you’re working on a smaller job site. Having too many large equipment rentals on the site at once will increase your potential for safety hazards and may slow everyone down as various subcontractors try to work around one another.
General contracting and construction management is a broad job that requires a vast range of skills, from analyzing a new project carefully to sourcing the equipment, materials, and skilled workers that are necessary to make the client’s dream a reality. With smart strategies and an organized approach, you can enjoy a successful career in this booming industry.