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Types of Contractors in Building Construction

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Contractors in building construction refer to organisations that employ labourers and equipment to carry out the physical construction work on site for a construction project. They are distinct from the consultant which is an organisation which generally leads the design team and works with the client to realise their requirements in the form of actionable project targets and plans. Consultants and contractors both employ various construction professionals including architects, engineers, project managers, quantity surveyors etc. and are largely associated with high value building work as opposed to smaller projects such as residences. Contractors are expected to handle all on-site work including site clearance, establishing site offices and the actual construction work along with the installation of building services until the building is handed over to the client for use. The exact scope and nature of the work depends on the type of the contractor which will be discussed in detail through this article.

Design and Build Contractors

This type of ‘contractors’ are actually construction companies who consolidate both the consulting and contracting aspects of the project. Therefore, designer builders design as well as construct the project on behalf of the client and the entire process in carried out by a single company. This has several advantages including greater cohesion among the stages of the project, potentially lower cost, the ability to start work on site earlier etc. The disadvantages include the potential lost opportunity to recruit more suited contractors for the specific building project. Design and build contractors may delegate certain tasks of the project to sub-contractors as the situation demands.

Design, Build, and Manage Contractors

This type is similar to design and build, with the addition of the company overseeing the building operations as well. This is generally associated with service maintenance and building maintenance services although they may provide other services such as training building staff to carry out maintenance work in the building or provide their own maintenance staff for the various services installed in the building.

General Contractors

General contractors are the standard type of contractor who is responsible for the entire work on site until the project is handed over to the client and is not involved in the design aspect of the project. General contractors are almost synonymous with the word ‘contractor’ and are the most common type of construction contractors available. They employ labourers, engineers, project managers and other construction professionals necessary for the work on site to operate smoothly, along with any equipment required. They may also delegate their work to sub-contractors as required.

Specialised Sub-contractors

Sub-contractors are organisations who are contracted by the main contractor for a project to carry out a specialised work package for the client on behalf of the contractor. They are generally utilised for extremely specialised work such as waterproofing, service installations (depending on the service), electrical work etc. They are generally employed because the standard of work required is out of scope for the main contractor or if their particular skillset is required for the project.

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