What Is the Difference between a Subcontractor and a General Contractor

As the construction industry continues to grow, there are various terms used to describe the different parties involved. Two of these terms are subcontractor and general contractor. While they may seem similar, there are significant differences between the two terms. In this article, we will explore the differences between a subcontractor and a general contractor.


A general contractor is a professional in the construction industry who oversees a construction project from start to finish. They are responsible for managing the overall project, ensuring that all the subcontractors working on the project are doing their part, and ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget.

On the other hand, a subcontractor is a professional who is hired by a general contractor to perform a specific task or tasks on a construction project. They are usually hired to perform specialized work, such as electrical, plumbing, or carpentry work, among others.


The roles and responsibilities of a general contractor and a subcontractor are quite different. As previously mentioned, the general contractor is responsible for managing the overall construction project, and they work closely with all the subcontractors involved. Their main duties include hiring subcontractors, managing the project budget, managing the project timeline, and ensuring that the project meets the required standards and regulations.

On the other hand, a subcontractor’s primary responsibility is to provide specific services to the general contractor. They are responsible for completing their assigned task or tasks within the specified timeline and budget. Since they are hired by the general contractor, the subcontractor does not have the responsibility of managing the entire project.


Another key difference between a general contractor and a subcontractor is their level of expertise. General contractors have a broad range of skills and experience in the construction industry, and they are trained to manage all aspects of a construction project. They have a deep understanding of construction regulations, building codes, and design principles.

Subcontractors, on the other hand, are experts in their specific field. They have in-depth knowledge and experience in their area of specialization, such as electrical work, plumbing, or carpentry. They are skilled in performing specific tasks and are required to have specialized training and certifications.


In summary, the difference between a subcontractor and a general contractor lies mainly in their responsibilities, expertise, and scope of work. The general contractor manages the entire construction project, hires subcontractors, and ensures that the project is completed on time and within budget. The subcontractor, on the other hand, has specialized skills and is hired by the general contractor to perform specific tasks. As a construction project progresses, it is essential to understand the roles and responsibilities of each of these professionals to ensure a successful project.