Construction projects and major Anchorage home renovations don’t commonly happen – at least without a complication or two – without the assistance of general contractors and subcontractors. While you have undoubtedly heard these titles before, it is important to understand the differences of Anchorage General Contractors vs. Subcontractors. How these roles differ, and how they work together to complete your project expertly.
Most large construction projects require a collection of different, smaller projects. Also, there are many different moving parts, which makes coordination and communication critical among general contractors and subcontractors. Each of the smaller projects requires a particular skill set and likely, specific training and licensing that goes along with the skill set.
When you consider hiring a general contractor like Crighton & Cooper Construction for your home remodel project in Anchorage, Alaska, it is beneficial for you to understand the similarities and differences between the two “types” of contractors you will likely encounter during your project. Also, it is helpful to understand the roles and responsibilities of each individual.
What is an Anchorage General Contractor?
In the construction world, a contractor is technically anyone who performs work under a contract. However, the term contractor often refers to the person or company that has direct contact with the homeowner or in the case of non-residential projects, the property owner. These individuals are often referred to as prime contractors, original contractors, or, more commonly, general contractors. On a typical construction project, the general contractor will hire subcontractors to perform specific jobs on the project. General contractors also hire material suppliers or procure necessary construction materials through various means, such as visiting local supply houses.
What is a Subcontractor?
A subcontractor is a company or person who provides labor or services but does not have direct contact with the homeowner or property owner. On a residential construction project, familiar subcontractors include carpenters, plumbers, roofers, or electricians. They are often self-employed individuals or small business owners who specialize in a specific niche within the construction industry.
Subcontractors perform a portion of the work that contributes to the overall finished product. Consequently, they often help reduce overall project risk as they bring with them expertise in a specific area that the general contractor may not have. Please keep in mind subcontractors are not necessarily defined by their business size. Subcontracting can be done by an individual who owns their own carpentry company or a multinational corporation that does industrial electrical work all over the country.
What ultimately defines a subcontractor is the agreement they sign with the contractor. A subcontractor agreement divides the scope of work in the original project contract and reassigns part of that existing contract from the general contractor to the subcontractor.
How Anchorage General Contractors and Subcontractors are Similar?
In some ways, subcontractors and general contractors are very similar when considered as part of the overall construction project. They both (or all) contribute work to the project using their own equipment and tools. Both general contractors and subcontractors are required to have and maintain proper licensing needed to complete their work. Licensing requirements will vary from state to state and city to city, so it is essential for your general contractor to know the individual requirements for your location.
Also, both general contractors and subcontractors need to provide their own liability insurance and, in some cases, workman’s compensation insurance for their employees. Failure to provide liability insurance or other forms of insurance puts you as a homeowner at a higher risk of legal and financial liability should an accident or injury occur on your job site.
How are Anchorage General Contractors vs. Subcontractors Different?
In short, the critical distinction between general contractors and subcontractors boils down to the contractual relationship. General contractors have a contract with the homeowner or the property owner for which work is being done. The general contractor is the person or company hired by the owner to complete their project. On the other hand, subcontractors are hired by a party other than the homeowner or property owner. While this “other party” is most commonly the general contractor, it can, in some cases, be another subcontractor.
Common Characteristics of General Contractors
When a general contractor such as Crighton & Cooper Construction and Design is hired to help you complete your home renovation, they act as the “head” of the project. The primary function of the general contractor on the job site is to seek out contracts (with subcontractors or material suppliers) and provide the necessary coordination and oversight to ensure your project is completed on time and within budget.
These obligations mean the general contractor will focus mostly on the customer and the more significant picture issues associated with the project. They will manage the day to day oversight, coordinate subcontractors and material vendors, arrange delivery of needed materials, and act as the central point of communication between all parties on the project.
One of the most valuable tools for any successful general contractor is their network of subcontractors. At one time, contractors were a jack of all trades. While this may still be true for some general contractors, much of the construction industry has moved towards specialization. Today, general contractors are likely to hire other individuals or companies to complete specialized work. This not only helps move your project towards completion quicker (as you are not waiting on one individual to finish every step of your project), but it also ensures the people doing specialized work have the necessary training, licensing and operate under the appropriate regulations.
Common Characteristics of Subcontractors
Subcontractors who are hired as part of a larger construction project are responsible for completing specific (often smaller) projects as part of the larger overall project. As mentioned previously, a subcontractor can be an individual or a company. However, regardless of their size, the subcontractor is not an employee of the general contractor. They are typically independent contractors or, in the case of a small business, employed by an independent contractor. This is a vital distinction for wage reporting and insurance purposes, among other reasons. Despite the independent nature of subcontractors, the general contractor often retains some rights “over” their relationship with the subcontractor. Depending on the state where the work is being performed, the general contractor has various rights. These include the right to inspect the books of the subcontractor or request to see copies of insurance riders and licensing verification.
When compared to that of a general contractor, a subcontractor’s work has a narrower focus. Subcontractors are your “specialists” who are experienced and highly trained in a specific area such as drywall, HVAC, roofing, plumbing, etc. Due to their level of experience, they are exceptionally skilled at a particular product and service delivery. Subcontractors know precisely what materials they need, where to get them, and how long it will take to complete their part of the overall project. Such expertise helps the general contractor properly schedule other elements of the project that hinge on completing the subcontractor’s project.
If you are considering an Anchorage home remodel project, consider working with a general contractor such as Crighton & Cooper Construction and Design. Our team of experienced professionals is equipped to handle all aspects of your home remodel or renovation project. Give us a call today to request a free estimate for your upcoming project
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