Contractor vs. Subcontractor: What’s The Difference?

Every construction project, regardless of the size and scope, calls for a variety of professionals to work together in harmony. For example, both contractors and subcontractors play a big role in the success of the project.

While the name is similar, there are many key differences between contractors and subcontractors. It’s important to understand the roles and responsibilities of each, as this gives you a clear idea of what to expect throughout the process.

What is a Contractor?

A contractor can be an individual or a company. Either way, a contractor is staffed with the responsibility of managing many aspects of the construction project from start to finish. 

Furthermore, a contractor is the one that creates the contract and enters a formal agreement with the customer.

What is a Subcontractor?

Generally speaking, a subcontractor is an individual or company with a specific set of skills. Examples include: electrician, plumber, carpenter, drywall hanger, and flooring installation professional.

A subcontractor does not work directly for the customer, but is instead hired by the contractor to complete a specific part of the job. 

Thanks to a specialized offering, subcontractors are typically able to complete several projects at the same time. 

Discuss This Upfront

When hiring a contractor, it’s important to understand the tasks they’ll complete and the ones they’ll “farm out” to a subcontractor.

There’s nothing wrong with a contractor hiring subcontractors – in fact, this is pretty standard – but you’ll want to know who they are and how the decision to do so impacts the project. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, contractors are staffed with the responsibility of managing the bigger picture. They’re responsible for the project as a whole, which includes hiring subcontractors, staying on budget, and delivering the final product on schedule.

Subcontractors specialize in a particular aspect of the project, allowing them to provide the contractor with specific services to help them complete the job as quoted to the customer.

Now that you know the difference between a contractor and subcontractor, it’s easier to understand the building process and how your project will unfold.