Hiring a contractor can be a great decision to make when it comes to your home projects. It can save you a lot of time and bring you a step closer to creating the home of your dreams. 

But, there is one question you may run into in your search—that is whether or not you should hire a general contractor or multiple subcontractors for your bigger home project such as a remodel or renovation. First, it’s helpful to know the difference between the two, and what they can each provide.

What is a general contractor? 

Just as the name suggests, a general contractor is a contractor that is in charge of the overall design and construction of your project. 

A general contractor can coordinate with all other trades and subcontractors to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

You can consider general contractors as being the “middleman” between you and the ones who are bringing your project to life.

What is a subcontractor?

Subcontractors are usually hired to work on a project based on their area of expertise. They typically work underneath a general contractor to help complete a project. 

For instance, if a general contractor is working on a project that requires electrical work, they may hire an electrician subcontractor who has the skillset to get the work done. 

What are the key differences between a general contractor and a subcontractor?

The biggest difference is that a general contractor is in charge of the entire project from start to finish. They’ll be responsible for finding, hiring, managing, and paying the subcontractors for the project. 

On the other hand, subcontractors are brought in for specific parts of a project that are in their area of expertise (i.e., plumbing, electrical, painting). 

Below are some additional key differences between the two:

Scope of work

Working with general contractors usually encompasses them being a part of a home project or home remodel from start to finish. Subcontractors or independent contractors may only be brought in for certain parts of a project, or for simpler, smaller tasks like fixing a sink or your air conditioner. 

Relationship to the owner

Because subcontractors are usually hired by general contractors who are overseeing a full project, the subcontractor may not have direct connection to the homeowner. Instead, communication is typically done through the general contractor while the subcontractor fulfills their work. 

If you’d like to hire a subcontractor or independent contractor yourself, you’ll have the ability to coordinate, communicate, and discuss terms directly with them as you please.

Timing and flexibility

A general contractor has a long list of roles and responsibilities as they oversee your job. From monitoring, scheduling, hiring, ensuring safety measures, and so much more, there’s a lot of time and effort that can go into getting your project done as efficiently as possible.

Because subcontractors are usually brought on for a specific task, you can expect some more flexibility and a fast turnaround, especially for your smaller home projects.  

Choosing the right contractor for you 

A general rule of thumb before hiring a contractor is to think about the project at hand, how complex it is and your willingness to handle potential costs, or unexpected repairs. 

Never hesitate to communicate openly with your contractor and get multiple estimates before making your final decision.

Find a contractor through The Good Contractors List

When you’re ready to make your decision in hiring an excellent contractor, The Good Contractors List can help. 

No matter what needs you’re looking to fulfill for your home, we have reliable and trustworthy contractors all throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.

Click here to find your next contractor for your home project!


John is the Founder and Chief Ambassador for The Good Contractors List. He built the organization from the foundation up after realizing how difficult it was for homeowners to identify honest contractors that offer good, quality work. The Good Contractors List serves as a free resource for homeowners to find GOOD contractors. In fact, we believe in our contractors so much that we back all of our contractors with a $10,000 guarantee.