At a high level, a subcontractor is a person hired by a general contractor to perform tasks that they don’t have the specialized training or capacity to handle themselves. It’s common to see subcontractors in fields where complicated projects are performed, like construction.
For example, for a construction project, the process may go like this.
An organization or government body is looking to start a new build or make a repair and will issue a request for general contractors to bid on the project. A general contractor, which is often a business entity, will put out a bid. If they win the contract, they’ll take on the responsibility of completing and executing the project within the agreed-upon terms. The general contractor will then hire a subcontracting individual or group of individuals who will provide their skills in exchange for a set contractual fee.
There are a variety of subcontractors in the construction field who specialize in specific trades. Here are the most common types of trades:
- Plumbing, Heating, and A/C
- Plastering, Drywall, and Insulation
- Roofing and Siding
- Energy Optimization
Not all of these specializations are needed for every construction project. It all depends on the project’s size, type, and scope. Some government contracts or community-focused development projects may actually require the contractor to hire a set number of local subcontractors as outlined in the contract.
Unlike the general contractor, who handles client relationships and is responsible for any overages in costs or time, the subcontractor is only responsible for completing their specific contracted work. They report to the general contractor and are no longer needed on site once their portion of the work is complete.