7 Essential Skills to Succeed
as a General Contractor

See also: Project Planning

A successful career as a general contractor requires more than just on-the-job experience. Various skills are necessary to manage projects and crews, meet deadlines, and ensure customer satisfaction.

Here are seven essential skills that every general contractor should possess:

Two contractors looking at notes for a building project.

1. Business Awareness

Being a successful general contractor requires more than just a flair for construction. Commercial awareness is an essential skill that all general contractors need to develop if they want to stay ahead of the competition. Commercial awareness means being up to date with the latest industry trends, knowing what projects are in high demand, and understanding the impacts of current affairs on the construction sector.

General contractors who are commercially aware are able to adapt their strategies quickly to take advantage of new opportunities, and they are also better equipped to deal with challenges that arise during a project. In today's construction market, it is essential to be a proactive and adaptable thinker, and this starts with having a strong understanding of the commercial factors at play.

2. A Strong Understanding of Construction Materials and Their Properties

Any general contractor will tell you that a strong understanding of construction materials and their properties is essential to success in the field. After all, construction projects involve the use of a wide variety of materials, each of which has its own unique set of characteristics. A general contractor who understands the strengths and weaknesses of different materials will be better able to make decisions about which materials to use for a given project.

For example, a contractor who is building a deck might choose to use pressure-treated lumber for the framing because it is resistant to rot and insect damage. However, if the deck will be exposed to direct sunlight, the contractor might instead choose a material that is more heat resistant. In short, a thorough understanding of construction materials is an important skill for any general contractor.

3. Organize Your Business’s Paperwork

No matter what business you're in, good organization is the key to success. This is especially true for general contractors, who have to keep track of many different moving parts. One way to stay organized is to use an expense management platform. This can help you keep track of your budget, invoices, and payments.

It can also help you manage your subcontractors and suppliers. By staying organized, you'll be able to complete projects on time and within budget. This will put you ahead of the competition and help you succeed as a general contractor.

4. Adaptability and Flexibility

Two contractors working on a large bridge project.

As a general contractor, you need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and demands. This means being flexible in your approach and willing to change tactics when necessary. For example, if a client requests a change to the plans halfway through the project, you need to be able to accommodate their request. This may require making last-minute changes to the work schedule or hiring additional workers. Similarly, if unexpected problems arise, you need to be able to find creative solutions.

This might involve coming up with an alternative construction method or finding a new supplier for materials. In today's ever-changing world, adaptability and flexibility are essential skills for general contractors.

5. Excellent Time Management and Organizational Skills

As a general contractor, you are responsible for managing a wide range of projects, from small renovations to large-scale construction. To be successful in this role, time management and organizational skills are essential. You need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once and keep track of all the details of each project. Good time management also means being able to work efficiently and make the most of every minute.

If you can learn to use your time wisely, you'll be well on your way to success as a general contractor. Organizational skills are also important in this role. You need to be able to keep track of all the different elements of each project and make sure that everything is running smoothly. A well-organized contractor is a successful contractor. If you can master these two skills, you'll be well on your way to success in this field.

6. A Problem-Solving Mindset

As a general contractor, you will face many challenges on the job. You need to be able to think on your feet and come up with solutions to problems quickly. This requires a problem-solving mindset. Developing this skill helps break down the problem into smaller pieces and brainstorm potential solutions.

Once you have a few ideas, you can start to narrow down the list by considering which solutions are most likely to be successful. It's also important to consider each solution's potential consequences before taking action. By taking a systematic approach to problem-solving, you will be better prepared to handle the challenges that come your way.

7. Communication Skills

Contractors talking about the job while on the building site.

Good communication is essential for any general contractor who wants to be successful. You need to be able to communicate with your workers, your clients, and your vendors. If you can't communicate effectively, you will have difficulty getting things done and keeping everyone happy. There are a few key communication skills that every general contractor should master.

First, you need to be able to listen. This sounds simple, but it's actually very difficult. You need to be able to understand what people are saying and identify the important information. Second, you need to be able to explain things clearly. This includes breaking down complex topics into simple terms and providing step-by-step instructions.

Third, you need to be able to negotiate. This means being able to find common ground and reach an agreement that is fair for everyone involved. If you can master these three communication skills, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful general contractor.


Becoming a successful general contractor requires more than being good at handy work. You need to have a wide range of skills to be successful in this field. If you're considering becoming a general contractor or are already in the business, make sure you have these seven essential skills.

With hard work and dedication, you can succeed as a general contractor. We hope these tips have helped you develop a plan for success as a general contractor.

About the Author

Elisah is a content writer who has professional experience in the real estate industry. She has worked collaboratively with property developers and contractors. She loves providing valuable information and is always looking for new ways to help others learn. In her spare time, she enjoys surfing.