What Makes a Specialty Contractor So Special?
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, 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. Specialty contractors 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 plumbing, lighting, painting, concrete pouring, heating and cooling systems, or alarm installation. 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 progress of the project specialty contractors only oversee the development and completion of their specialized task.
Since specialty contractors have the most practice and experience in one specified area of construction, project owners chose 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.
Understanding the difference between General Contractors and Specialty Contractors
It is important 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 GC 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.
Relationships between General and Specialty Contractors
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 with one another. 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.
When a general contractor is responsible for paying a specialty contractor for their job, it is important to be clear and create a contracted agreement for the specialty contractor to receive down payments for labor costs and payment for 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.