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April 18, 2023

How to Become a General Contractor in Ontario

So, you’ve chosen a career in the skilled trades industry. Great choice! In 2021, Canada’s construction industry was valued at $321.7 billion, and its market size is expected to increase in the coming years.

But have you figured out how to start a career as a general contractor? Or how to start a general contracting business? We’re sure you’ve got the basics down, from obtaining an apprenticeship to building a network of your own clients, suppliers, and subcontractors. However, there’s more to the general contracting business than meets the eye.

You’d need a business license to become a successful general contractor in Ontario. This proves that you’ve met the competency criteria in your province or territory and can meet the requirements for a project. Aside from having a license, you’ll also need to have an insurance policy in place.

In a competitive and flourishing construction industry, you must stay ahead of your competitors. In this blog, you’ll learn how to become a general contractor and the licensing and certifications you need to succeed in your chosen career.

What Is a General Contractor?

A general contractor is the one who oversees the entire construction site, is responsible for managing vendors and other tradespeople, and is the point person of information for every party involved throughout the course of a project.

Because they are responsible for many things, they’re also held accountable for every aspect of a construction site. This means that general contractors face more risks and hazards on the job and must ensure that everyone else stays safe while working on a building from start to finish.

It’s a big role that requires quick thinking skills and versatility. This brings us to our next point…

A general contractor checking blueprints for a project

Do You Have These Skills?

A balanced combination of hard and soft skills is what general contractors need to succeed in their roles. Remember, it’s a competitive industry, so it’s important to always bring your A-game whenever the situation calls for it. The skills you might need include:

People Management Skills

General contractors manage a lot of people, so having people skills to communicate with your employees, partners, or vendors is essential.

Clear and concise communication is vital to completing a project since you need to convey the client’s vision to your workers and manage the client’s expectations in return. Without this skill, you might have a hard time meeting deadlines or sticking to the project’s set budget.

Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving skills are a given in any job description, but this is even more important in the context of construction. You will be dealing with the logistics of heavy objects and time-sensitive projects. In addition, you might also have to face instances wherein workers suffer serious injuries. As a general contractor, keeping a level head while facing challenges will be one of your greatest assets.

Project Management Skills

This is a no-brainer. Project management skills are needed to finish a project on time. If you can’t make the deadline, you risk interrupting your client’s schedule, their business’s daily operations, and your worker’s expected salaries. You might also end up going over budget with the project’s expected costs.

In any of these situations, you risk getting sued, which means you’ll face hefty legal costs and settlement fees.

Marketing Strategy Skills

The construction industry in Canada is flourishing, which means there are a lot of competitors at play bidding for the same construction projects. So, how do you stand out in the crowd? With a great marketing strategy, of course!

Everything is digital now, so make sure you have a website that features valuable business information and the projects you’ve done or are currently working on to add to the legitimacy of your brand.

Contractor’s tools and equipment

How to Get A General Contractor License in Ontario

Skills and connections aren’t all you need to succeed as a general contractor. You need a general contractor license to work on some projects in certain provinces or territories.

This is because the skilled trades industry is highly regulated, so you need to know what licenses and certifications are required in the area you’re working in.

The licensing process varies by location, but it typically requires the following:

  • Be 18 years or older;
  • Have the necessary technical education (e.g. a bachelor’s degree in Building Science, Construction Engineering, or Construction Science);
  • Obtain work experience in the specific field through internships, apprenticeships, or a construction field job; and
  • Pass the licensing exam.

Yes, You Need Insurance as a General Contractor in Ontario

If you’re working as a general contractor in Ontario, you must have an insurance policy. Because you are providing services for a fee, you are prone to the risks of injury, property damage, allegations of negligence, and interruptions to your business operations.

This alone can cost thousands of dollars to resolve, not to mention the loss of other resources and it taking a hit on your brand’s reputation.

At the minimum, you must have general liability insurance, which protects you from legal or medical costs resulting from third-party injuries or third-party property damage.

Additionally, a comprehensive general contractors insurance policy will cover a wide range of risks you’ll inevitably face. What’s even better is purchasing a customized insurance policy covering every possible hazard and scenario your business might be subjected to. This ensures that you only pay for the policies you actually need.

Ready to Get Started?

Contractors Insurance is an award-winning commercial insurance brokerage dedicated to personalizing insurance plans for various clients across various industries.

Our dedicated team of experts is ready to assist you with your insurance needs and will ensure you get reliable coverage for your business’s unique needs—we guarantee that you won’t have to deal with hidden costs or unnecessary riders.

Ready to become a general contractor with a license in Ontario? We’ve got your insurance needs covered. Contact us today to get started with a FREE quote!


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