What Are Contractors and What Do They Do?

by Usama Chaudry on March 24, 2022

Do you need assistance with the completion of your construction project? Then, It’s best to hire a contractor. But it’s critical to pick the right contractor for your project task. Because there are several types of contractors who have different perks and skills.

So, for the sake of hiring:

It’s crucial to understand how they differ in their roles and responsibilities. 

In this article, we will discuss what is a contractor’s job, their multiple types, help you know if a specific job task is for a contractor or a subcontractor, and if they are paid well.

So let’s start by knowing what are contractors and what they do.

What are Contractors?

A Contractor is someone engaged to complete specific tasks for a construction project. 

So, what do contractors do actually?

Contractors, like industry owners, work for themselves. They essentially work as construction managers and are the primary point of contact for a construction project’s communication.

Contractors may employ subcontractors to complete some or all of a construction project’s work. While hiring subcontractors, they make subcontractor agreements to guard themselves and the subcontractors. Contractors earn more than construction workers, even though many people conflate the two. The reason for their higher pay is that the contractors look for their own clients.

Types Of Contractors

There are three types of Contractors you should know:

What are General Contractors?

A General Contractor is a type of Contractor who manages a construction project, whether commercial or residential. While a General Contractor’s tasks vary depending on the job, they have some typical duties overall. 

The following are some of a General Contractor’s most typical responsibilities:

  • Negotiating deals with customers.  
  • Observing the day-to-day operations of a building site.
  • Handling dealer and trade management.
  • Conveying information to relevant groups throughout the project
  • Constructing new buildings, refurbishing buildings, and making essential repairs.
  • Evaluating the project plans.
  • Heading the construction project’s physical labor.
  • Supplying all of the materials needed for a project.
  • Providing the necessary labor for a project.
  • Employing subcontractors for specific tasks. 
  • Hiring subcontractors to help with project elements that require more attention to detail. 
  • Supervising the quality and promptness of the work on a building project.
  • Keeping track of a building project’s schedule, expenses, and cash flow.
  • Maintaining detailed records for all aspects of a building project. 

What are Subcontractors?

A Subcontractor is a type of contractor who specializes in a particular niche of construction. As contractors recruit them, the quality of their job reflects both them and the contractor who employed them. General Contractors frequently hire Subcontractors to complete a task that is usually part of an extensive project. They assist in lowering project risks as they have specialized knowledge that a general contractor may lack. 

Their specific skills enable them to work on particular projects in the following fields: 

  • Electrical work
  • Insulation
  • Carpentry
  • Plumbing
  • Painting
  • Sewers
  • Appliance installation

While a Subcontractor’s specific responsibilities vary depending on the project type and the Subcontractor agreement that they sign, all subcontractors have some common duties. 

The following are some of the typical responsibilities of Subcontractors:

  • Adhering to the subcontractor agreement’s provisions.
  • Communicating with the general contractor and the client regularly.
  • Making adjustments to policy and strategy changes as required.
  • Executing labor and ensuring that construction projects are completed on time.
  • Maintaining a pre-determined budget.

What are Independent Contractors?

Independent Contractors, often known as consultants, free agents, or freelancers, are individuals or businesses who work for or provide services to others on a non-employee basis.

The following are some of an Independent Contractor’s most typical responsibilities:

  • Communicating with the customers to explain job requirements.
  • Assembling the materials required to finish the project.
  • Supervising the project from start to finish.
  • Modifying your work strategy to match the job specifications as needed. 
  • Addressing the customer about assignment-related concerns as soon as they emerge.
  • Assuring that tasks are done in accordance with the specifications.
  • Completing tasks within given timeframes
  • Getting the tax returns completed and submitted on time.

How to Know If a Job Role is of Contractor or a Sub-Contractor?

While contractors and subcontractors work together to execute a construction project, their typical responsibilities are usually different.


It is critical to understand the difference between both and to define your requirements to guarantee you choose the right person for the position.

Following these steps will assist you in deciding between a contractor and subcontractor:

1.     Determine the Scope of the Project

Consider the kind of project you require assistance with when picking between a contractor and a subcontractor. A general contractor may be more suited to your requirements if you have an enormous construction or renovation project scope. On the other hand, choose a subcontractor if you have a smaller project requiring specialization in a particular construction niche.

2.     Required Qualification, Skills, and Experience

Along with the scale of your building project, consider the experience level of each contractor. If you’re working on a progressive project, it’s preferable to employ the sort of contractor who can meet your project’s requirements. 

3.     Project Expenses

While general contractors can fulfill a wide range of tasks, they cannot perform each one of them by themselves. As a result, they may need to recruit subcontractors to assist them with the project’s completion. This will undoubtedly raise the cost of your project. So, keep the chances of this happening in mind and consider whether you really require a general contractor or whether you can just engage a subcontractor instead.  

Are Contractors Paid Well?

Yes, Contractors are paid well, and in fact, they usually earn more money as contractors than employees. This is because contractors can charge more and keep a larger share of their pay than workers. Contractors are also higher-paid because they bear the responsibility and risk of their work. 

On average, a contractor’s salary in Canada is CAD 53,625 per year, which translates to a minimum wage of CAD 27.50 per hour.

Entry-level contracting positions start from CAD 40,346 per year, while the most experienced contractors earn up to CAD 81,405 per year.

Businesses pay more for contractors since they do not have to commit to long-term contracts or pay for health benefits, unemployment compensation, social security taxes, or medicare taxes. 

Contract labor, in general, does not offer the same perks as working as a full-time employee for a corporation. Due to the lack of benefits, contractors are usually paid more on the contract.


Working for contracting services gives you more freedom, more control over your work, and more job security for several people than regular full-time employment. 

Contractors, performing the same job as full-time employees, usually earn more money than them. The reason for their higher pay is the lack of those benefits that full-time employees get.

Now that you know what are contractors, you can easily decide which type of contractor is a perfect fit for a certain job role. If so, don’t forget to share your feedback in the comment section on how this article helped you understand the difference between different types of contractors. 

If you want to read more such articles, you can head to our blog section.

Usama ChaudryUsama has a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta. Computations of electrical and thermal characteristics are among his research interests. Usama's hobbies outside of professional work include reading, playing tennis, and trekking.


The Primus Workforce team is proudly built on hands-on industry knowledge and experience.