The Lineup — General Cast of Characters on a Construction Project

I once knew someone in the import/export business. I knew him for a long time. I still didn’t know what exactly he did for a living until I had the chance one day to sit down and ask him 20-30 specific questions about it. If this sounds like an old Seinfeld episode to you, you’d be right.

If you aren’t employed or affiliated with the construction industry in some form or fashion, you may not be familiar with the usual cast of characters involved in construction and improvement projects. While the players can differ from project-to-project, there are five or six key players and positions:

Owner a/k/a Developer

  • owns the land or property being improved
  • may employ one or more Designers and one or more Original Contractors

Designers (Architect & Engineers)

  • directly contract with the Owner to design the improvements
  • may contract with the Owner to administer the construction contract between the Owner and the Original Contractor

Construction Lender

  • directly contracts with the Owner to fund the construction improvements

Original Contractor a/k/a General Contractor

  • directly contracts with the Owner to furnish labor and materials to complete a specified scope of work
  • construction work often overseen to some extent by one or more Designers


  • directly contracts with the Original Contractor to furnish trade-specific labor and/or materials within the required scope of work

Surety/Bonding Company

  • directly contracts with the Original Contractor and/or Subcontractors to insure the completion of the construction and/or that their beneficiaries are paid for labor and/or materials furnished
  • if someone is “bonded,” it usually means they are insured for something, but what that something is may vary

Now that you’ve imported this knowledge, be generous and export it to others. And, FYI George Costanza, it’s a crime to hold yourself out as an architect in the State of Texas if you’re not licensed as one.

In our “Law 101″ posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more involved and complex discussions.

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