General Contractors vs. Construction Managers: What’s the Difference?
November 3, 2023


When embarking on your construction project, you will have to determine who should manage the process. Construction managers and general contractors have similar responsibilities for a project, but there are key differences that affect your entire project. The differences vary depending on how you pay for the service to your level of involvement in the process.

Learn the distinction between the two so you can select the right company that will best suit you and your project.


 Both general contractors and construction managers are responsible for managing your construction project. They manage the project schedule, hire subcontractors, ensure quality, site safety, and much more. Construction managers typically don’t perform construction at the job site, but the general contractors might. Both will have a network of subcontractors they trust to complete the work.


As previously mentioned, construction managers start work on the project during the design phase. They will develop and maintain a thorough understanding of your project from concept to completion. They work jointly with you and the architect, manage subcontractors, and complete all the end-of-project necessities. Since construction managers are there from the start, they provide value engineering suggestions during the design and construction process to help keep your project on-time and on budget. 

General contractors typically have a very similar role as the construction managers during the construction phase. However, a general contractor is not involved in the pre-construction process (the design phase).


Another difference between general contractors and construction managers is how you pay them. Construction managers typically charge a percentage fee for their services. With general contractors, you pay them based on their lump sum bid. If there are any unforeseen circumstances or the project scope changes, they will request change orders to complete the project.

Construction managers will work with you to closely monitor the overall project budget and review the subcontractor bids, then select the appropriate contractors. General contractors will manage their budget and independently select the subcontractors.


Depending on your project goals, preferences, and budget, one might be a better choice than the other. Think about the type of partner that will be best for you and your business. Would you rather hire a general contractor to get the work done or have a construction manager who will be a collaborative partner during the preconstruction phase of your project?

A general contractor may be right for you if you prefer to receive lump sum bids and invest less time on the construction. However, a construction manager may be right if you prefer a negotiated fee instead of a flat rate and a collaborative partner to manage the entire project.

Whether you want a general contractor or a construction manager, we have good news! A.R. Brouwer Company offers both services to meet your project needs. Contact us to schedule a time to discuss and learn how our services can help you build your project.

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