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Last edited 24 Feb 2022
Types of contractor in the construction industry
Within this very broad definition, there are a very wide range of different types of contractor:
 Design, build and manage contractor
A contractor that is appointed not only to design and build the works, but also to manage them during operation, sometimes providing operational services over and above building maintenance, such as supplying operational staff, cleaning and so on.
A sub-contractor, that is freely-selected and appointed by the main contractor to carry out part of the works on their behalf. The work of the sub-contractor is the responsibility of the main contractor.
The term ‘prime contractor’ is often used in central civil government and the defence sector to mean ‘main contractor’, although it can also have a different meaning (see also Prime contractor below).
This is similar to the role of the construction manager, in that the management contractor does not undertake the works themselves, but manages ‘works contractors’ to carry out the works. However, in this case, the works contracts are placed with the management contractor rather than with the client.
The client enters into a long-term multi-project relationship with a contractor in which competition is introduced at the sub-contract level. Prime contracting is generally only appropriate for very large clients such as the Ministry of Defence which is continually commissioning new buildings and refurbishment work.
A contractor may be designated as the principal contractor under the CDM regulations, with responsibilities for planning, managing and co-ordinating health and safety while construction work is being undertaken.
A very broad term used to describe any provider of services or goods either directly to the client or to another supplier in a supply chain. This may include consultants, contractors, subcontractors and so on.
Other types of contractor include:
- Approved contractor.
- CIS contractors and CIS sub-contractors.
- Construction contract.
- Construction manager.
- Construction manager at-risk.
- Contractor vs supplier.
- Design and build.
- Due diligence when selecting contractors or subcontractors.
- Main contractor.
- Management contractor.
- Principal contractor.
- Procurement route.
- Specialist contractor.
- Trade contractor.
- Trades contractor.
- Types of construction.
- Work package contractor.
- Works contractor.
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