SkillSET Blog
Advice For Pros · March 14, 2022 · AUTHOR: Alan Perez

The Difference Between An Independent Contractor And A General Contractor

The difference between an independent contractor and a general contractor can be confusing for someone new to construction. In reality, there is a distinct difference between the two roles. Contractors are classified as either general or independent, and each type creates different responsibilities for both the contractor and the property owner. Here's what you need to know to make an informed decision when choosing a contractor.

What is an Independent Contractor?

An independent contractor is someone who's not considered an employee. They're usually self-employed and provide a service or product to another business. They are free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and have the freedom to set their hours and working methods. 80% of people around the world work as independent contractors.

The protections for independent contractors offer a way for business owners to reduce the risk of lawsuits and ensure that they can run their business without being tied to an employee's responsibilities.

What Is a General Contractor?

General contractors (GC) are one of the most common home builders. As the name suggests, a general contractor is in charge of the design and construction overall. The general contractor will work with the homeowner to design the house, oversee the building process, and supervise the building staff. A general contractor can coordinate with all other trades and independent subcontractors to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

Differences Between A General And Independent Contractor

There are a few key distinctions between general contractors and independent contractors. One contract usually encompasses the entire project with general contractors, from start to finish. On the other hand, Independent contractors are brought in for specific portions of a project or even just for a single task.

In addition, whereas general contractors are responsible for the safety of all workers on the job site, independent contractors only need to ensure their own safety.

Finally, general contractors are typically paid a set fee for their work, while you may have to pay independent contractors hourly.

How to Find The Right Contractor For Your Home Improvement Needs

Do you feel like your home is running out of space? Is the roof starting to leak? It's time to call in a contractor. But where do you start? How do you find the right contractor for your needs, especially if you don't have any experience in this field? The key is finding a contractor that provides the quality of work you need and does it within your budget.

How will you know who to trust with so many contractors out there?

How to Find The Right Contractor

Finding the right contractor for your needs may seem like a daunting task. You will want someone qualified, affordable, and trustworthy. To find the right contractor, you can use these three steps:

  • Compare quotes from different contractors

  • Determine what factors go into determining a quote

  • Navigate some common questions about general contractors vs. independent subcontractors

Compare Quotes From Different Contractors

To find the right contractor for your needs, you need to compare quotes from different contractors. Start by getting at least three quotes from at least three different contractors. How much will it cost? What work will it entail? These are all questions that you need to answer before doing anything else.

Make sure that each quote includes the same projects, and be wary of quotes that sound too good to be true. It's important to note that some contractors may charge a higher hourly rate but charge less overall because they have fewer overhead costs--this could affect the total cost of their work compared with a contractor who charges less per hour but more overall because they charge more for materials or are factoring in other overhead costs.

How To Choose A Contractor

Once you've started your list of contractors you like, how do you know if they are a good fit? That is where the quote comes in. A quote is an estimate of the total cost for the project. It includes labor and materials, so it is important to understand what factors determine your quote.

The materials and labor costs vary widely based on what kind of project you are working on. General contractors charge more because they take care of all aspects of the project, including hiring independent contractors, ordering materials, providing supervision, cleaning up at the end of the job, and so on.

If you want to do some of these things yourself, then using independent subcontractors might be a better option for you. Sub-contractors specialize in certain tasks relating to your project and are hired by your general contractor or separately.

They will give you an estimate on their work after meeting with you to discuss what needs to be done for your project. A contractor might even walk through your home or business with you beforehand to provide their best possible quote for the work that needs to be done.

The final question is whether or not you’ll need a single contractor or multiple contractors from different trades working on different phases of your project. 

For example, if you need a new roof, do you hire someone who installs roofs only or does both roofing and plumbing? The answer depends on what type of service will make the most sense for your specific project and timeline constraints.

Common Questions About Finding The Right Contractor

Finding the right contractor for your needs can be quite difficult. There are many contractors, and they all provide different quotes based on what you want to be done. You may be wondering how to determine which quote is the best for you and how to even find the right contractor in the first place. Here are some common questions that you should answer in your process:

  • How do I know if a contractor is reliable?

  • What should I look for when comparing contractors?

  • Should I use a general contractor or independent contractors for certain projects?


The right contractor can make your renovation project a success. But how do you know who to trust? To get started, you'll want to find a contractor who's qualified and experienced in the type of work you need. To do this, start by comparing quotes from different contractors.

Once you find a contractor, it's important to ask them plenty of questions. And finally, it's important to read your contract carefully. A well-written contract can help you avoid costly mistakes and save you time and money.

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