Many people are often confused when the term trade contractor comes up. A trade contractor is essentially a subcontractor that specializes in a specific part of a construction project. These parts can range from electrical and plumbing to painting and site preparation. Subcontractor and trade contractor are constantly used interchangeably due to their similarities however both roles do demonstrate knowledge and skill for a specific element of a construction project.
What is a Subcontractor?
A subcontractor is a type of contractor. Subcontractors, like contractors, work on a contract basis which means that they are either hired to work on a specific project or for a certain amount of time. This process of contracting is incredibly common in the construction industry. The vast majority of work in construction is done through a selection process of firms, in which the winning firm wins the contract and therefore the job. Subcontractors, like trade contractors, focus on a specific part of the project. The key thing that separates subcontractors from trade contractors is that they do not work directly with the customer but instead go through and answer to the construction manager.
Construction Management Contracts
In construction management contracts, more specifically trade contracts, the work is split into different sectors in which different contractors are responsible for each of these sectors. In these sectors, one job is performed. These jobs may include the pouring of concrete, preparing the site, painting, and many other jobs that are included in a construction project. Trade contractors do the vast majority of their work on the field itself, although some may have offices and that is where their ‘behind the scenes’ work happens.
What Do Trade Contractors Do?
Trade contractors undertake a variety of duties on a number of different sites such as repair, remodel, and construction sites. Construction has an abundant amount of categories in and of itself. Some of these may include fields in building and civil engineering construction. The term trade contractor in construction can refer to many different positions such as plumbers and electricians, which are very common ones. Each official trade contractor specializes in a different concentration. An example of a subcategory that falls under an electrician’s duties is the area of installation. Some trade contractors are focused on installing heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems and everything that comes along with controlling the temperature and atmosphere of a building.
Others are more focused on the installation of safety systems in a building. These systems include alarm systems, sprinklers, and the attention to fire codes of the building. These trade contractors are in charge of installing and repairing these systems mentioned above and usually do so within residential, industrial, and commercial buildings.
A Trade Contractor’s Insight
Trade contractors do not only perform the physical tasks they are trained for, but they also have an overall understanding of project plans and therefore offer valuable advice in regards to them. Trade contractors also should be mindful of costs and aware of how to minimize them. They are also expected to abide by strict deadlines for the project to run smoothly and according to schedule.
Sometimes trade contractors are referred to as trade contractors rather than subcontractors. This is because subcontractors are contracted directly by the construction manager, whereas trade contractors are contracted by the client themselves. This separation significantly reduces costs considering the construction manager is responsible for the management aspect.
The Recruitment Process
Trade contractors must be chosen, and they are selected through a strategic process before the project begins. This process involves a Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA) which states what is expected of the trade contractor. It should clearly specify what their duties are. Trade contractors must present all of the necessary information on their key performance indicators as well as provide record drawings. Record drawings, also known as as-built drawings, are drawn up during or after a construction project to show the reality of what is actually being built, considering plans on site are continually changing.
Variety in Trade Contractors
Other types of trade contractors may include drywall installers, roofers, and even. The majority of trade contracting requires a high school diploma and some training. The training generally consists of educating through shadowing and hands-on exercises. Some trade contractors even earn licenses or certificates from vocational schools. There are also trade contractors that are much more civil engineering focused. The government hires these trade contractors and usually asks them to work on the roads. The tasks usually include reviving and updating the roads, along with bridges and highways.
Ola Abuelhassan is a Content Marketing intern at eSUB. She is a current student at University of California, San Diego pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Business.