What Is A Subcontractor

A subcontractor is an organization that has a particular specialty to perform a critical element of a construction project. Usually, all the hired workers at this type of organization have the ability to perform the technical aspect of their specialty. See Exhibit 16-1 for the subcontractor's flow chart.

At one time, contractors performed most of the work that was required for a project. This included electrical work, mechanical work, and plumbing work as well as the basic elements of the project. However, by proceeding on this basis, the contractor not only had to maintain a staff of these specialty persons but these hired workers had to be extremely skilled. This was a costly proposition, especially if only limited work was available. As a result, specialty subcontractors evolved as a substitute for the contractors' own skilled work force. Here the contractor could choose from a number of subcontractors and obtain a competitive price with skilled workers, as required for a project. It should be noted the subcontractors' work constitutes approximately 80 to 90% of the total cost of the project. A typical subcontractor organization is noted in Exhibit 16-2.

As you can see in Exhibit 16-2, the subcontractor has to deal with secondary and tertiary fabricators and suppliers. Therefore, strong oversight by the project manager (PM) is required because of the number of entities involved with the subcontractor's work.

The number of subcontractors has expanded over the years as projects have become more sophisticated. Some of the more common types of subcontractors are indicated in Exhibit 16-3.

Exhibit 16-1

Subcontractor and bidding-flow chart.

Exhibit 16-2

Subcontractor's organization.

1. Concrete

2. Steel

Exhibit 16-3

Subcontractor's list.

3. Excavation

4. Demolition

5. Mechanical

6. Electrical

7. Plumbing

8. Sprinkler

9. Elevators (and other conveying systems)

11. Roofing

12. Drywall

13. Plastering

14. Flooring (i.e., carpet, hardwood, Vinyl Tile [VT])

15. Ceiling

16. Painting

17. Landscaping

18. Millworkers

19. Paving

20. Brickwork

21. Stone work

22. Communications and data

23. Glaziers

24. Controls

25. Pile work

26. Sheeting

27. Blasting

28. Security

29. Hoists

30. Ornamental metal

31. Hazardous material removers

32. Underpinning

33. Cranes

34. Site work

35. Site utilities

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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