Last edited 18 Sep 2020

Subcontractor vs supplier

Traditionally, the distinction between a supplier and a subcontractor was that a supplier provided goods only, whereas a subcontractor provided goods and services.

However, this apparently clear distinction has become blurred by the increasing complexity of the construction supply chain and the emergence of practices such as off-site fabrication in which the provision of complex fabricated goods might include elements of construction work that would previously have been considered a service carried out by a subcontractor.

The UK government has now broadened the term ‘supplier’ to mean any ‘…provider of services or goods either directly to the employer or to another supplier in a supply chain’ (ref. PAS 1192-2 (now replaced by BS EN ISO 19650)).

This catch all definition includes; contractors, subcontractors, consultants, suppliers and service providers who might all now be described as ‘suppliers’.

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