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Subcontractor vs. Independent Contractors: What’s the Difference?

One of the most confusing aspects of the construction industry is contending with the various types of contractor classifications and their respective rights and responsibilities. In this brief article, a Portland construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law will discuss the difference between a subcontractor and an independent contractor. In some aspects, these two types of construction professionals may seem quite similar, but after taking a closer look, the difference between the two is rather stark.

Independent Contractors Generalize

In the construction industry, an independent contractor is typically an individual with general contracting experience. This person provides contracting services for a wide range of applications. They have a generalized knowledge of construction, set their own schedules and rates, and hire subcontractors to contribute specialized work as needed to reach project completion. An independent contractor will be hired by a business owner to take the lead on a construction project and will largely hold control over the various jobs required to satisfy their contract; however, they aren’t considered an employee. Depending on the state you are working in, your licensing requirements and lien rights will differ.

Subcontractors Specialize

Subcontractors are hired to take on specialized jobs and tasks. Where an independent contractor is a generalist, a subcontractor is a specialist with advanced proficiency in a particular field of construction, like masonry, plumbing, heating, painting, electrical work, or carpentry. This high level of specialization makes subcontractors an indispensable ally for independent contractors. Subcontractors receive payment from the contractor contracting directly with the owner. This can be problematic in some cases since many contractors are unable to pay their subcontractors without first receiving payment from the owner. When an owner neglects to pay, it can have a trickle down effect for subcontractors. If you are dealing with nonpayment, consult a Portland construction attorney for assistance.

Whether you’re an independent contractor or a subcontractor, a Portland construction lawyer can assist you with a broad range of legal services, including litigation and arbitration, contract review and drafting, lien and bond law, OSHA defense, license defense and bid protests.

If you would like to speak with a Portland construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.