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Difference Between 5 Best Developer General Contractor

Difference Between 5
Best Developer General Contractor

June 12, 2023
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Developer General ContractorIt’s easy to confuse  Developer General Contractor with builders or developers, but they all have different roles in the real estate ecosystem.

We see advertisements saying “direct from the developer,” similar to “direct from the wholesaler” used in retail. But what does that mean?

Let’s dive in and understand the difference between a developer vs. a general contractor vs. a builder.

What is a Building Developer?

Real estate developers are responsible for finding and acquiring land suitable for development. They assemble the necessary financing to purchase and build on that land, obtain zoning permissions, and get the required permits from the authorities for construction. The primary motive of a developer is to develop real estate on a piece of land for a lucrative resale.

Once the developer acquires a property, they must conduct due diligence on the site before construction begins. This includes aspects like environmental assessments and soil testing.

Developers can be categorized into residential and commercial. A residential developer builds homes, condos, and other dwellings for residential use, whereas a commercial developer builds office buildings, malls, schools, hospitals, etc.

Defining A Developer General Contractor

The scope of work for general contractors can supervise the construction or renovation process, select the best materials, and hire subcontractors for tasks such as plumbing or electrical work.

General contractors can take on various other responsibilities depending on their business model. They might be responsible for designing a building or managing other contracts with subcontractors.

What is a Builder?

A real estate builder constructs new buildings from head to toe. He is responsible for the whole process, from the initial planning to the final construction and delivery.

Developer General ContractorDifferent builders specialize in various types of construction. They may specialize in residential or commercial construction or be generalists who build everything from single-family houses to skyscrapers.

Understanding the Differences Between A Developer General Contractor Builder

The difference between a developer, a general contractor, and a builder lies in their assigned task. A developer can be a general contractor if he takes up renovation activities. At the same time, all developers can be builders if they dive into complete construction.

Let’s get specific and differentiate a Developer General Contractor Builder.

As discussed, a developer buys a piece of land to construct residential or commercial real estate for sale to multiple customers or resellers. A major difference between a developer and Builder is that a builder does not get into purchasing land; he looks into the construction. However, there exists a unique developer-builder relationship in construction.

On the other hand, a general contractor mostly takes up renovation tasks and supervises construction activities at the site.

Real estate builders are responsible for designing, constructing, and selling.

Licensing Requirements for a Developer General Contractor

Different licensing requirements exist for a Developer General Contractor Builder vs a Developer.

General Contractor

To qualify as a general contractor, you must have at least one of the following:

  • A license from your state’s licensing agency.
  • A permit from the Department of Labor (DOL).
  • A certificate of competency from your state’s licensing agency.
  • An exemption letter from your state’s licensing agency.

All general contractors in the US must have a state license. To get a permit, one must first have an active business and register with the DOL as a contractor.

But it would help if you determined what your state requires before applying.

For example, in California, you must be licensed by the Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB).


It was certified by the International Code Council (ICC), a nonprofit organization that develops codes and standards for building safety.


Developer General Contractor

A builder’s license is required for constructing, altering, or demolishing any building in the US.

Provides a guide on its website which outlines the “Licensing Requirements of Homebuilders.”

The first requirement is that the Builder.

The second requirement is that they must have liability insurance coverage in an amount required by law to cover any claims arising from their work.

The third requirement is to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage with limits set by law.

The fourth requirement is that they must maintain fidelity bonds or other surety bonds as required by law to cover losses due to dishonesty or misappropriation of funds.

The fifth requirement is that builders must maintain a completion bond or provide performance and payment bonds as necessary, depending on the type of construction contract involved.

Finally, builders may be required to register with other government agencies depending on their type of business and location.

However, the licensing requirements for builders in the United States are different. They have only a contractor’s license, while in other states, a builder needs to have both an architect’s and contractor’s license. A contractor’s license is insufficient for structural work, such as framing or roofing.

For example, it’s illegal in California to call oneself a “builder” without a license issued by the state’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB). In Rhode Island, builders are required to be licensed by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS).

There are three main licensing categories for a builder in the US:

Residential Builder License:

A Residential Builder License is required for anyone who constructs, alters, or repairs any building, structure, or appurtenance on land for sale or rent. The requirements for obtaining this license vary based on whether you have previously been licensed and the type of work you will perform.

General Building Contractor’s License:

The General Building Contractor’s License is required for contractors involved in building construction, alteration, or repair and installing windows or doors. Installing heating and air conditioning systems, electrical work, or plumbing is unnecessary.

A state agency issues the license, which may be obtained through examination or by getting a graduate degree from an approved apprenticeship program. It must be renewed annually and can be revoked if the contractor commits any violations.

Home Improvement Contractor’s License:

A Home Improvement Contractor’s License is required to work on residential properties. This requires an individual to provide proof of bond and liability insurance.

To acquire the license:

  • A person must be 18 to apply for a builder’s license.
  • If the property is less than $5000 in value, the Builder does not need a permit.
  • A builder is not required to have permission if they do minor work on their property.


It requires all developers to obtain licenses before selling or leasing properties built with federal funds. This is done to prevent fraud, misrepresentation, and other illegal activities.

The process is long and expensive, but it ensures the developer doesn’t scam people or get out of their contract.

For a real estate developer to obtain a license, they must have at least five years of experience, pass an exam, and have $500,000 in liquid assets.

Several requirements must be met In the US before a real estate developer can start constructing a new residential or commercial building.

  • The developer should have an architect to design the building and a structural engineer to ensure it is structurally sound.
  • They also need an environmental consultant to ensure they are not harming the environment.
  • The developer also needs to get a permit from the local government before starting construction, which includes submitting plans for the building and paying fees.
  • A developer must also comply with the Fair Housing Act to develop residential property. This law prohibits discrimination against potential buyers. The law also requires developers to make reasonable accommodations.

Moreover, a developer must seek approval from a city before building on any land within its jurisdiction.

Cities often impose their own set of regulations for developers to follow. For instance, some cities require developers to provide affordable housing units as part of their development plans or pay into an affordable housing fund instead of building those units on-site.

Clarifying the Difference Between A Developer General Contractor vs. Builder

Confusing these three terms can be easy, but after reading this article, I am sure you’ll use these terms with far more clarity.

A buyer must understand that a developer buys the land and arranges necessary permissions for land use; Builder plans the layout and constructs the building. A general contractor takes care of quality and sublet tasks such as renovation, plumbing, and electricity to sub-contractors.

Developer General Contractor Home Builder Contractor FAQs

What is a Developer in Construction?

A developer buys land and builds, renovates, or manages residential, commercial, or industrial properties at scale. They can be either private individuals or corporations.

What is the best Role of a Property Developer?

Property developers identify land investment opportunities and purchase them at a low price to build and resell. Additionally, they ensure that the project is funded from beginning to end with enough cash.

Can Developers also be Contractors?

Yes, developers can also be contractors. A developer buys a property, builds, and resells it. Still, he can be a contractor when hired to renovate a project, such as a building or commercial complex.

How do Builders and Developers Work?

The real estate development process begins with property acquisition and ends with selling the constructed property. The development process is extensive and takes months or even years to complete. A builder typically handles the complete construction activity, from planning a blueprint to finalizing it for sale.

What are Construction Services?

Construction services are a broad subcategory of the construction industry. They include building, remodeling, and engineering.

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