Subcontractor vs Contractor: What’s The Difference? Lisa March 29, 2021

Subcontractor vs Contractor: What’s The Difference?

If you’re in the process of completing a construction or renovation project, you may be pondering the key differences between a subcontractor vs contractor. 

Whether you’re undertaking a significant renovation, building your own home, undertaking a commercial refit or a large scale construction project – or in fact, any project in any industry –  the importance of sourcing a reputable contractor is crucial if you want to get it right the first time and potentially avoid a costly disaster. 

Depending on how big or complex the project you have in mind is, you might be looking to hire: 

  • A general contractor, who manages all aspects of a project, including hiring and supervising subcontractors, getting building permits, and scheduling inspections. 

  • A specialty contractor, who installs particular products like cabinets and bathroom fixtures. 

  • An architect, who designs homes, additions, and major renovations – particularly for projects that involve structural changes. 

  • A designer or design/build contractor, who provides both services. 

When it comes to the key points between a subcontractor vs contractor, there are a medley of similarities – but also some big differences too. While all contribute work to a property improvement using their own equipment and tools, knowing exactly who does what can go a long way when it comes to the quality and stress levels associated with a residential, commercial or industrial renovation, refit or fitout. 


The Roles Of A Subcontractor vs Contractor 

In the construction realm, a contractor is technically anyone who performs work under a contract. However, the term typically refers to the person, company or business who has a direct contract with the homeowner or property owner, and is usually the primary point of contact. 

They are often called the Prime Contractor, Original Contractor, or General Contractor, but in most construction contracts they will simply be referred to as the Contractor. On a typical construction or renovation project, the Contractor will proceed to hire subcontractors to perform specific subtasks, while still being responsible for the overall project. Contractors also hire suppliers to provide materials necessary in the construction. 

In comparison, a subcontractor is a company or person providing labour or services using a specific skill set, and does not have a direct contract with the owner. On a residential construction project, common subcontractors are carpenters, cabinet makers, plumbers, and even electricians. They are often self-employed, or small business owners that specialise in a particular niche in the building industry. 

They’re often simply called “subs” in the construction world, and the primary contractor usually has a “go to” list of subcontractors that they use regularly on a variety of projects. The subcontractor reports directly to the contractor, and not the client. The contractor is responsible for managing the duties, payments and any other business directives of the subcontractor, which is why it’s crucial to do your research when engaging with a contractor prior to signing any big commitments. 

Sourcing Further Advice On Finding Reputable Contractors 

In operation for over ten years, Brisbane based Kibo Constructions believe that quality, reliable workmanship with an honest approach shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. By working closely with our clients, we ensure that the entire process is both a transparent and enjoyable experience from start to finish – after all, undertaking a home renovation project of any size shouldn’t be painful, and that includes guidance and reassurance in working with contractors. 

Lee Bourke and the team at Kibo Constructions offer a unique “concept to creation” service when it comes to bringing your vision to life. Just a handful of their services include: 

  • Refits available for hotels, resorts, cafes, restaurants, aged care and retirement villages 
  • Ongoing maintenance services and packages available 
  • A full in-house joinery operation, offering custom options without holding up lead times
  • Overnight and weekend scheduling available to minimise disruption 
  • Full service team providing design, all trades, council and engineering approvals
  • Professional site cleaning upon completion 

If you know that there’s an upcoming project coming up for you, your brand or your business, we would love the opportunity to provide a quote – you might be pleasantly surprised at the result. As we specialise in residential, commercial and hospitality fitout options in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, please get in touch to discuss how we can bring your vision to life.

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