Last edited 18 Jan 2017

Construction contractor

In very broad terms, contractors are the organisations appointed by clients to carry out construction works. However, this apparently simple relationship is complicated by the fact that contractors tend not to have all the trades required to construct a building in their direct employment. This means that a contractor is likely to appoint a range of sub-contractors to build the works for which they have been contracted.

Contractors can be appointed in a number of different ways, with varying degrees of risk and reward:

The contractor may also be designated the principal contractor under the CDM regulations to plan, manage and co-ordinate health and safety while construction work is being undertaken.

Civil Engineering Procedure, 7th edition, published by the Institution of Civil Engineers defines a 'general contractor' as '...a contractor who undertakes the whole of the construction of a project, but usually in turn sub-letting parts of his work to specialist or trades contractors and others as sub-contractors'.

It defines 'main contractor' in the same way but with the qualification that this is distinct from a managing contractor or construction manager.

Other terms used to describe contractors and sub-contractors include:

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