What Does a Contractor Do? Everything You Need To Know

What Does a Contractor Do?
What Does a Contractor Do?

If you need assistance with a construction project, you must hire the right contractor for the job. Because different types of contractors have different benefits and specialties, it’s important to understand the differences in their roles. This article will explain what a contractor does, assist you in deciding between a contractor and a subcontractor, list the steps for finding the right contractor, and provide you with tips to help you choose the best one for the job.

What is a contractor?

A contractor is someone who is hired to do specific tasks for a construction project. General contractors, subcontractors, and independent contractors are all types of contractors. Contractors, like business owners, work for themselves. They are usually in charge of a construction project and are the main point of contact for it.

Contractors may hire subcontractors to complete part or all of a construction project. They create subcontractor agreements that protect both them and the subcontractors when they hire subcontractors. Although many people mix up contractors and construction workers, contractors are paid more because they find their customers.

What Does a Contractor Do

As previously stated, a general contractor can bring a lot to the table and ensure that your project runs smoothly. They provide project coordination, project savings, and a state license, among other things.

#1. Coordination of Projects

The most important aspect of a general contractor’s job is coordinating all subcontractors from start to finish. This means that they hire all subcontractors, including plumbers, electricians, and painters. They also communicate directly with subcontractors so you don’t have to, which saves you time in the long run.

They schedule and supervise subcontractors for the duration of the project after hiring them. Also, based on their experience, they will know the most efficient order in which projects should be completed.

Floors, for example, should always be completed last because they will be damaged during the construction process. A general contractor’s knowledge can save a lot of headaches in a construction project because there are so many moving parts.

A general contractor is also accountable for the project’s overall quality. It’s their job to put out any metaphorical fires, relieving you of stress and responsibility. If a project is completed incorrectly, it is the general contractor’s responsibility to pay to have it corrected. That money would have come from your pocket if you didn’t have one.

#2. Insurance and a license

A general contractor can give you peace of mind because most of the time, they need a license from a governing body to work. I say usually because there is a big difference between a licensed general contractor and someone with a hammer who claims to be a general contractor.

Let us concentrate on licensed general contractors for this discussion. Those are the only ones you should use.

The requirements for licensure vary by state and even by city and county. On the other hand, a licensed general contractor will have the right skills and, more importantly, will be insured to do construction work.
A licensed general contractor must carry both liability and worker’s compensation insurance. This, of course, makes you not responsible if someone on his crew gets hurt on your job site.

If you don’t hire a general contractor, you’ll be responsible for any damage that happens while the building is being built. This may be sufficient information for anyone to make a decision. Check with your insurance company about your options for builder’s insurance and what coverage they can provide if you decide to subcontract the project yourself.

What Are the Licensing and Qualification Requirements for a Contractor?

Most states require contractors to be licensed. Unlicensed work can result in several penalties (including jail time) in California, and all contractors working on projects worth more than $500 are required to have licenses, with only a few rare exceptions. In California, you need to meet several requirements set by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, such as getting an education.

What is the Difference Between a Contractor and a Subcontractor?

Most of the time, subcontractors make deals with the general contractor instead of directly with the homeowner or client. And these “subs” frequently specialize in a single area of construction. And who are they most of the time? “You’ve got your typical, your framers, your concrete guys, your pool guys,” says Corr. For most new construction projects, subcontractors also do the tiling, drywall, insulation, electricity, plumbing, stonework, and roofing.

“As your spec increases, you begin to deal with more specialty subcontractors, such as glass walls for swimming pools,” Corr adds. “The only company that can do that at a reasonable cost is one based in Las Vegas.” Subcontractors often form relationships with contractors that span years and dozens of projects, so experience comes with knowledge of the best in the field—even if the pros are out of state, as in Corr’s case. General contractors are ultimately responsible for their subcontractors’ work, how well they do it, and how they act.

How to Choose Between a Contractor and a Subcontractor

Even though contractors and subcontractors often work together to finish a building project, they often have different tasks to do. As a result, it’s critical to understand both and determine your requirements to ensure you hire the right person for the job. To choose between a contractor and a subcontractor, follow these steps:

#1. Establish the scope of your project.

When choosing between a contractor and a subcontractor, think about the type of project you need help with. A general contractor may be a better fit if you have a large construction or renovation project. Choose a subcontractor if you have a smaller project that requires specialized skills in a certain area of construction.

#2. Look into their level of experience and qualifications.

Along with the size of your construction project, look into each contractor’s level of experience. If you have a complex project, it is best to hire the type of contractor who best meets the project’s requirements.

#3. Consider the cost.

While general contractors can do a lot of things, they can’t do everything. As a result, they may need to hire subcontractors to help them finish the project. This will almost certainly raise the cost of your project. Think about the chance that this will happen and whether you need a general contractor or if a subcontractor will do it.

#4. Think about the significance of personal connection and commitment.

Subcontractors can do small repairs, but they don’t have the same level of personal connection or overall motivation as contractors. Contractors tend to be more committed to quality because they work on larger construction projects, but this varies by contractor. Determine whether this is important to you, and then select your contractor accordingly.

When Do I Need to Hire a General Contractor?

The last thing you want to do is get yourself into something you can’t handle. There’s something to be said for outsourcing your headaches, and a major construction project is often fraught with them.

Here are some questions to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a general contractor:

  • How long will the project take? Hiring a general contractor may not be necessary if you estimate that your project will take a few days or a week. If the project will last longer, consider the benefits of having someone else manage it. Projects that last more than a week have a lot more chances for things to go wrong. The momentum will be maintained by a general contractor.
  • Do you need any special permits for your project? If the answer is yes, you should think about hiring a general contractor. Building codes and permits can be difficult to understand. Your general contractor will have extensive experience obtaining permits and ensuring that your project complies with all regulations.
  • How many different types of experts are needed for the project? If you need more than one or two, it may be worthwhile to hire a general contractor. Coordination of more than two subcontractors can be difficult, and you will wish you had the assistance of a professional.

Tips for Choosing the Best Contractor

It’s critical to think about several things before hiring a contractor. Use the following guidelines to help you find the best contractor for your project:

  • Perform a background check. Conduct a thorough background check before hiring a contractor. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any previous violations.
  • Determine whether they are insured. While all contractors should have insurance, they must have enough insurance to protect all parties involved. Check to see if their insurance covers what you require.
  • Pay attention to the details. Pay attention to their actions and your conversations with them to find a trustworthy contractor. Consider how long it took them to provide you with an estimate and whether it was itemized as you requested. Their attention to detail and timeliness may indicate how long it will take them to complete your project and how well they will listen to your instructions.

Other Considerations

There are a few things to consider if you decide to hire a general contractor. Make sure first that they are the right kind of contractor for your project. A residential contractor, for example, has different skills than a commercial contractor.

Second, make certain that the person you hire is not a con artist. You can do this by asking for proof that the person is licensed and for references from people who have worked with them before. Another sign of a scammer is if they only accept cash and want you to pay upfront. Certain circumstances may call for an exception but trust your instincts. If something smells fishy, it probably is.

When hiring a contractor, you should feel comfortable asking a lot of questions and being satisfied with the answers. Your contractor should be in your corner the entire time, working hard to ensure that the project is exactly what you want.

What do contractors actually do?

A general contractor is in charge of providing all of the project’s materials, labor, equipment (like engineering vehicles and tools), and services. A general contractor often hires subcontractors with specific skills to do all or part of the construction work.

How do contractors make money?

The contractor can make a gross profit on both the work done by the vendor and the product it sells. At the same time, the contractor can make a gross profit on the labor and products installed by his crews while they prepare the project for off-site installation.

What are examples of contractors?

Contractor types and which one is best for your project

  • General contractor. 
  • Carpenter. 
  • Electrician. 
  • Drywaller. 
  • Plastering. 
  • Painter. 
  • Wallpaper installer. 
  • Heating and air-conditioning (HVAC)

What is the difference between a contractor and a subcontractor?

The main distinction is who employs them and how hands-on they are. Simply put, homeowners (or business owners) hire a contractor to complete an entire project. Subcontractors are hired (or subcontracted) by contractors to do the majority of the hands-on work.

Why do people hire contractors?

Contractors are a cost-effective way to meet project-based needs as well as sudden increases in internal systems and operations. When compared to hiring permanent employees, outsourcing is a great way to save money. Think about the following: There will be no holiday, sick, or overtime pay.

What is a contractor salary?

General contractors with an established business at the higher end of the pay scale can expect an annual base salary of $70,000 to $95,000, according to TradesmanCE.com. When broken down further, this equates to a $50 hourly wage or a $500 daily rate.


When deciding whether or not to hire a general contractor, you should rely on your knowledge of the project and your level of comfort. If you are perfectly capable of doing the job yourself but want to hire a subcontractor to handle the manual labor, you should avoid hiring a general contractor.
If the project is complicated and you don’t know how to do it, you might want to hire a general contractor to make sure it goes smoothly and gets the results you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is called a contractor?

A contractor is a person who is hired to construct something. It is strongly advised that as a contractor on a construction site, you wear your hard hat at all times.

Who is a contractor in construction?

A building contractor is someone who works in construction management. These include the planning, development, and coordination of activities associated with a successful building construction project.

What is the main job of a contractor?

A contractor is in charge of planning, leading, executing, supervising, and inspecting a building construction project. Regardless of the project’s scope, responsibility extends from the beginning to the end.

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