Specialty Contractor

What is a Specialty Contractor?

Did you know there are some forty specific trades within the construction industry?   They take trade construction to a whole new level of complexity and there is a much higher requirement for knowledge, education, experience and specialized expertise than general contractors. The point of entry to learn how to perform a trade (e.g., electricity, HVAC, Mechanical, Framing, Drywall, etc.), coupled with understanding safety implications, the code requirements, and governmental regulations, and then the depth of the products that need to be installed are overwhelming. In addition to obtaining a license, many subs must also have the basic construction management skills of the general trades, except these skills are also more challenging.

These specialized contractors are the most knowledgeable and experienced with the task they are hired for, which is why they’re instrumental to the success of any commercial or residential construction project.

What is a Specialty Contractor?

Specialty contractors are contractors who are responsible for the completion of one specific job involved in the completion of a construction project and perform most of their labor on the construction site. However, they have the flexibility to complete smaller tasks in private owned workshops. 

Some examples of specialty contractors are:

1. Plumbing: This is a specialized contractor in charge of installing new plumbing fixtures, repairing leaks, unclogging pipes, and maintaining water and waste systems. 

2. Lighting: This type of contractor is responsible for setting up lighting fixtures to create complex and aesthetic illumination infrastructure for indoor and outdoor spaces. 

3. Painting: This specialized contractor is in charge of building a functional and pleasant atmosphere with a brush.

4. Concrete pouring: A concrete contractor is in charge of preparing the site, creating concrete molds, mixing concrete, and pouring it into the prepared area to build the right foundations for the structure.

5. Heating and cooling systems: Maintaining a comfortable temperature is essential for indoor environments. This type of specialist becomes vital in installing, maintaining and repairing HVAC systems.

6. Alarm installations: This specialty contractor is responsible for setting up safety features and systems for indoor and outdoor spaces.

Of course, there are many more categories for specialty contracting; whatever job task the contractors specialize in is all they are responsible for on a project. Instead of overseeing the project’s progress, specialty contractors only supervise the development and completion of their specialized tasks.

Since specialty contractors have the most practice and experience in one specified area of construction, project owners choose to hire a specialty contractor to maximize their budget and receive the best quality of work for their money. Specialty contractors can be hired as an independent contractor or part of a larger overall team of contractors depending on the scope of the project and the specificity of the Owner or General Contractor.

Specialty contractors aren’t only responsible for installation labor on a project since they are licensed to perform a specific task. They can also be responsible for the long-term maintenance, repair, and upkeep of whatever it is they were hired to install.

Specialty Contractor vs General Contractor, What’s the Difference?

It is essential to know the difference between general contractors and specialty contractors. Both parties are equally significant to the completion of a successful project. However, their responsibilities differ. While a general contractor is hired to oversee the total status and completion of a construction job, a specialty contractor specializes in the completion of a particular task. A “self-performing” general contractor can also be hired to do specific installation tasks; however, if they do not have a license to complete the task required, then a specialty contractor is necessary.

Depending on the project, specialty contractors can be hired to do more than one task if they have the necessary licenses. For example, it is not uncommon for a general contractor or project owner to hire a specialty contractor with dual licenses that help them to complete electric and heating or cooling installation rather than hiring two different specialty contractors to do each task.

What Makes Specialty Contractors So Special?

Specialty contractors are professionals with an in-depth understanding and expertise in specific areas. Unlike general contractors, specialty contractors focus on the fine details of their field, completing projects with precision and attention to detail. For example, a plumbing specialist may know exactly what type of tool is required for a particular job with unconventional water pressure specifications. Likewise, an HVAC specialist may know which kind of A.C. is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than a general contractor may understand. 

Specialized contractors are also experts in their field given that they possess a deep understanding of the materials, techniques, and standards relevant to their labor. They know the products, tools, methods, and they are equipped to tackle above average challenging tasks. On top of that, they are familiar with industry regulations to ensure the work delivered meets quality standards. 

How General and Specialty Contractors Coordinate

It is important that both parties hold themselves accountable for agreements made with one another and stay focused on their specified tasks while working collaboratively. If a specialty contractor is hired separately from a general contractor, they do not necessarily answer to one another, however they must work together for the best interest of the project efficiency and timely completion.

When a general contractor is responsible for paying a specialty contractor for their job, it is important to be clear and create a contractual agreement for the specialty contractor to receive down payments for labor costs as well as payment for the completion of the task. General contractors and specialty contractors should communicate openly with one another to avoid disputes about when the specialty contractor should be paid and a down payment agreement.

How to Become a Specialty Contractor?

Becoming a specialty contractor requires time, effort, and expertise. Generally, they begin their apprenticeship journey by gaining practical experience in their chosen specialty area. Afterwards, specialty contractor licensing is necessary to ensure contractors have the required skills, knowledge, and follow safety and industry standards. 

Obtaining a license requires specialty contractors to pass a technical exam that covers all aspects of their chosen field, as well as construction laws and regulations. It is also important to keep in mind that the licensing requirements may vary by location and involve specific experience, training, or apprenticeship. 


Specialty Contractor Laws

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