Safepact was created to give homeowners peace of mind when dealing with contractors. I have used the blog many times to explain what to look for in a contractor, or give examples of bad contractors, and basically to talk about contractors the entire time, but it really took until just now for me to realize that not everyone knows exactly what a contractor is; I’ll change that now.
What we call a contractor is actually a shortened term for a “general contractor”. A general contractor is someone who is hired by either a client (you guys out there) or an architect to perform some type of job on the house.The general contractor is also the point person that you will be working with and talking to throughout the building experience. In order to be a contractor they need to be licensed in various tasks for the specific state they are working in. What the specific state requirements are to be a contractor vary from state to state, but usually they say something along the lines of “anyone who intents to work professionally on a building needs to be certified by the (insert state here) licensing board”. Here is a website that goes into specifics of each state. A contractor will also be in charge of any subcontractors that he hires.
A subcontractor is a general contractors version of “I got a guy”. If there is a specific task that your contractor isn’t licensed for, or if there is something that needs to be done that he just isn’t very good or experienced at, he will call in a subcontractor as explained in the second paragraph.. A subcontractor is someone that is provided by the contractor to do a certain type of job, usually something very specific like plumbing or electrical. If a contractor is going to call in a sub he should state that on the contract that you sign and the per hour cost of that person should be in the price that your contractor quotes you. Often times your contractor will never actually pick up a hammer and help with the construction but will choose to get the work done solely by hiring subcontractors, this is a very normal thing and shouldn’t deter you from hiring that contractor. In a previous blog post I outlines a bunch of things to look for before hiring a contractor.
As always, build safe out there!