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A subcontractor is an individual or in many cases a business that signs a contract to perform part or all of the obligations of another's contract.

A subcontractor is hired by a general contractor to perform a specific task as part of the overall project. Whilst the most common concept of a subcontractor is in building works and civil engineering, the range of opportunities for subcontractor is much wider and it is possible that the greatest number now operate in the information technology and information sectors of business.

The incentive to hire subcontractors is either to reduce costs or to mitigate project risks. In this way the general contractor receives the same or better service than the general contractor could have provided by itself, at lower overall risk. Many subcontractors do work for the same companies rather than different ones. This allows subcontractors to further specialize their skills.

In the United Kingdommarker economy, the need to respond to a rapidly changing environment and service a diverse infrastructure has encouraged flexibility and diversity in its subcontractor community with the majority of subcontractors now providing specialised skills to a wide range of companies.

Types of subcontractor

In United Kingdommarker building industry contract law, particularly when using JCT standard form contracts, three subcontractor types are identified:
Domestic subcontractor
A subcontractor who contracts with the main contractor to supply or fix any materials or goods or execute work forming part of the main contract. Essentially this contractor is employed by the main contractor.
Nominated subcontractor
Certain contracts permit the architect or supervising officer to reserve the right of the final selection and approval of subcontractors. The main contractor is permitted to make a profit from the use of nominated subcontractors on site, but must provide attendance (usually provision of water, power, etc. to enable the nominated subcontractor to do his job). In effect the appointment of nominated subcontractors establishes a direct contractual relationship between the client and the subcontractor.
Named subcontractors
Effectively the same as a domestic subcontractor - A subcontractor who contracts with the main contractor to supply or fix any materials or goods or execute work forming part of the main contract. Essentially this contractor is employed by the main contractor.


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