There is dilemma in every construction project on whether to hire a general contractor or a subcontractor. They both help in resource coordination and communication, both of which are vital to a project’s success. Yet, there are differences in the roles that they play in a project. Here are some insights to help you understand the difference between general contractors and subcontractors, so you can make an informed decision for your project.
Who is a General Contractor?
A general contractor, also known as a prime contractor or an Original Contractor, is a group, corporation, or individual who conducts work under a contract and has a direct agreement with the home or property owner. In most construction contracts, we refer to them as the contractor. A contractor will employ subcontractors to complete particular subtasks and hire suppliers to provide building materials.
Who is a Subcontractor?
A subcontractor is a company or a person who provides services that do not have a direct contract with the home or property owner.
Carpenters, plumbers, and electricians are typical subcontractors on residential construction projects. They are frequently self-employed or small business owners who specialize in a specific construction niche. In construction, they are called “subs”.
They contribute to the overall project by doing a portion of the work. As a result, subs also help reduce project risks by bringing onboard skills that the general contractor may lack.
Difference Between General Contractors and Subcontractors
- General contractors are employed directly by the property owner. As for subcontractors, another party may hire them instead of the property owner.
- The prime contractor often employs subcontractors, but a subcontractor may also hire another subcontractor.
- A general contractor’s main job is to find and have the requisite coordination and supervision tasks to ensure that the project progresses according to budget and schedule. A subcontractor’s job is to execute the smaller goals for the larger scale design.
- General contractors handle day-to-day oversight; organize suppliers and subcontractors, while subcontractors’ job is more narrowly oriented since they are professionals qualified in a particular trade such as roofing and plumbing.
- Because of their experience, subcontractors are consistently good at product and service delivery, so they know what products they need and where to get them, which helps general contractors minimize risks and lower project costs.
The construction industry is becoming more specialized with time. Back then, a single contractor would handle a wide range of tasks and manage the whole project from start to finish. Today, these contractors are more likely to employ someone to do specialized work for them, and this is where subcontractors come in. Feel free to contact us at R.H. Blanchard for more support from our experts.