The term general contractor (GC) and main contractor, as well as subcontractor, are frequently heard in the construction industry and the concepts are similar and mixed! What is the difference between them? What are the responsibilities and functions of each of them? On what basis are they chosen? This is what we will discuss in the following lines.
In fact, the general contractor is the same as the main or basic contractor, and it is only one job that has many names. It may differ significantly from the subcontractor in several aspects, and it may be similar in limited aspects.
To find out the definition of the GC and the subcontractor, it is necessary to identify first the work structure of contracting projects and its parties, who we will mention later in more than one place, and they are:
The Client: May be an individual, a real estate developer, a real estate investor…etc. He is the owner of the project who owns the idea, the financing tools and the website.
The Consultant Engineer: Could be a person or an engineering institution, who is chosen and appointed by the owner of the project, and undertakes the task of designing, supervising the GC, holding periodic meetings with him to discuss workflow methods, follow-up on building materials purchases, and the efficiency of the site work crews, as well as verifying The contractor’s commitment to the project’s declared budget, and to work according to the specified schedule.
The GC: Is the person to whom the project bid was awarded and is responsible for its complete management and construction. Appointed by the owner of the project and subject to the supervision of the consultant engineer and assumes full responsibility before him for the course of work from inception to the delivery stage.
The Subcontractor Who represents the cornerstone of building and construction projects. Works of a craft nature are assigned to him and selection is made according to the mechanism for awarding the tenders offered. He is subject to the supervision of the GC who bears full responsibility for his performance before the client.
The essential differences between a general contractor and a subcontractor:
First: the job description
Could be an individual, a company, or a non-governmental entity, with skills, experience, creditworthiness, and a government license to engage in the activity of managing contracts for building, construction, civil engineering, and engineering construction works, for the benefit of himself or to a third party (real estate developer – real estate investor – project owners….etc), and the implementation of the related services involved in the activity. He is appointed by the aforementioned entities under a formal contract for the project’s construction .
His capabilities vary according to the project assigned to him, in the sense that he may have the skills required to complete a small construction project on his own and depending on his own resources, while in larger and more complex projects he ought to seek the help of third parties to implement parts of the project called subcontractors.
Could be an individual, a team, or a company specialized in a specific field of crafts. The subcontractor possesses high skills in specific areas of the construction fields (excavation – demolition – roofing – cladding – plumbing – electricity … etc.), and has extensive experience in the task entrusted to him. Work on a specific part of the project.
Second: Tasks and Responsibilities
Subcontractors are divided into two categories:
A. Labor suppliers.
B. Suppliers of labor and building materials and they are the most common.
Third: The Contract
It is a legal form of agreement between the contracting parties, specifying the responsibilities, rights and duties of each party, as well as the policy for payment of dues, standards of safety, public health and occupational security, in which reference is made to dispute resolution mechanisms in the event of a breach of one or some of the clauses, and means of redress from potential legal loopholes to avoid the fraud of any of the parties.
In contracting contracts, the rights and duties of the GC are relatively similar to their counterparts related to the Subcontractor and each contract is concluded separately.
The GC contract
The Subcontractor contract
Regarding the organization of work in contracting contracts of all kinds (general contracts – subcontractors), the Saudi Contractors Authority launched the Electronic Model Contracts Initiative, which are integrated contracts from a legal and technical point of view, including the contractors and the subcontractors registered with the Authority, whose competence is guaranteed, as well as the client (project owner – beneficiary). It aims to raise the level of quality of project implementation and reduce its stumbling upon disputes between the contractor and the customer and to reduce legal disputes in cooperation with the competent authorities.
With regard to subcontractors, it covers all field activities.
Initiatives to organize job opportunities for contractors and subcontractors in accordance with the Kingdom’s regulations
The Saudi Contractors Authority regulates the work of contractors and subcontractors by registering on the Muquawil platform, which provides opportunities to search for construction projects in the government and private sectors as well as individuals, for all contracting establishments of all sizes, specializations and locations.
As for qualifying contractors to carry out the construction and development of factories, Modon portal of the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones has provided building contractors qualification services.
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