Subcontractor vs. Contractor: What’s the Difference?

Typically, a contractor works under a contractual agreement to provide services, labor or materials to complete a project. Subcontractors are businesses or individuals that carry out work for a contractor as part of the larger contracted project.

What is a General Contractor vs a Sub Contractor?

What is a contractor?

A contractor is a person that a company or person hires for a specific project. A contractual arrangement is used to bring in the contractor rather than having him or her work for the company full-time.

Running your own business and working as a contractor both involve the following responsibilities:

Subcontractor vs. contractor

It is useful to compare how contractors and subcontractors compare in a few key areas before we explain the differences between them:

What is a subcontractor?

The subcontractor typically does the physical labor in the construction industry. They can work on a variety of individual projects thanks to their specialized skills, including

Contractors and subcontractors exist in other industries too. For instance, a business might employ a contractor to assist with rebranding. Then, to assist with the project, the contractor might employ subcontractors like a copywriter, graphic designer, and web designer.

Subcontractors are expected to: In addition to their specific job duties, subcontractors are expected to:

Pros and cons of being a contractor

The following are some potential advantages and drawbacks of working as a contractor:

Advantages of being a contractor

Set your own hours: If you work as a contractor, you can set your own hours. While you must adjust your schedule to accommodate the hours that your clients are available, you typically have the choice to decline anything that doesn’t fit your schedule. Select the clients you want to work with: Contractors can also select the clients they want to work with. The contractor may decide to continue working with a client if they were easy to deal with in the past and made payments on schedule. Additionally, contractors have the option to decide where and what kind of work they want to perform. The freedom to set your own rates is possibly the biggest benefit of working as a contractor rather than a subcontractor. For a particular job, contractors get to choose the price they want to charge. Even if they hire subcontractors, this helps to estimate how much profit they make. Decide which subcontractors you want to work with: Contractors are free to choose which subcontractors they want to work with and whether they want to work with subcontractors at all. As a result, they can assign more work to subcontractors they know and who charge fair prices. Spend more time managing than doing physical labor: Contractors frequently delegate the majority of the work to subcontractors. When this occurs, the contractor devotes more time to management and marketing than to performing actual work. Many professionals find this ability to supervise projects rather than participate in them directly to be very appealing.

Disadvantages of being a contractor

Some of the disadvantages of working as a contractor include:

More responsibility: Contractors bear the entire responsibility of any contract. Even if a subcontractor makes a mistake, the contractor is still responsible for it. This puts more pressure on the contractor, who must make sure everything is finished accurately and on schedule. Must find your own clients: A big part of being a contractor is finding your own clients. In addition to managing projects, contractors also spend time seeking out new contracts. People who dislike self-promotion might not like working as contractors. Requires different skills: In order to be a contractor, one must possess different abilities than a subcontractor. Subcontractors specialize in a particular part of construction work. However, in addition to understanding construction, contractors must also understand how to manage a business. Contractors must understand how to promote a business, create a budget, handle payroll, and assign tasks.

Pros and cons of being a subcontractor

Being a subcontractor has both benefits and drawbacks, including:

Advantages of being a subcontractor

Less accountability: Because they are only tasked with one particular area of a project, subcontractors do not need to be concerned about the project’s overall outcome. That allows them to concentrate on delivering excellent work in a single area. Fewer customer interactions: Some people would rather have fewer interactions with customers. Subcontractors are not required to bargain for rates or monitor payments. The subcontractor typically only needs to communicate with the contractor because the contractor handles most customer interactions. Stable work: A subcontractor should have a steady flow of work if they can effectively network with other contractors and deliver a high-quality finished product. They receive more business from contractors as a result, increasing their opportunities for employment. Independence: When working on short-term projects, subcontractors report to contractors; otherwise, they are independent They can set their own schedules, hours and availability.

Disadvantages of being a subcontractor

Being a subcontractor has some drawbacks as well, including:

Less support from the employer is provided because subcontractors are self-employed and are responsible for their own taxes, expenses, and other things like health benefits. Subcontractors are not paid regularly; instead, they are paid when a job is complete. Less authority: Subcontractors have less control over when and with whom they collaborate. Subcontractors only have the option to accept or reject each customer that the contractor brings in. More physical labor: In a contractor-subcontractor arrangement, the subcontractor performs the majority of the physical labor. Depending on the job, this could entail strenuous physical labor for several days.


What is the difference between a subcontractor and independent contractor?

The employment relationship with a laborer differs depending on whether they are subcontractors or independent contractors. Subcontractors are employed by independent contractors and paid by them, whereas independent contractors are employed by and paid by the employer.

What is the difference between a subcontractor and a 1099 contractor?

A subcontractor is paid a portion of the contractor’s overall job payment. Contractors receive payment per job or by the hour. You receive a 1099 form as a contractor, and the IRS decides whether a worker is an employee or a contractor.

What makes someone a subcontractor?

A subcontractor is a person who works for a contractor. A contractor is a person or business that performs projects for businesses under contract and is compensated for doing so. Subcontractors can assist contractors on projects that need additional assistance or expertise because they are self-employed like contractors.

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