Sub-contracting in construction projects
Produced in partnership with Dentons UKMEA LLP
Sub-contracting in construction projects

The following Construction practice note produced in partnership with Dentons UKMEA LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sub-contracting in construction projects
  • Contractor's ability to sub-contract works
  • Is there a sub-contract in place?
  • Relationship between employer and sub-contractor
  • Stepping down the building contract
  • Types of sub-contractors
  • Domestic sub-contractors
  • Nominated sub-contractors
  • Named sub-contractors
  • Sub-contracting under standard form building contracts
  • More...

Sub-contracting in construction projects

One of the key considerations for a developer when they are looking to procure works, is the appointment of the contractor. The procurement route chosen will then determine the level of risk and responsibility that the contractor takes on. However, regardless of the procurement methodology used, a consistent theme, in the UK construction market, is that the contractor usually sub-contracts out discrete elements (if not all) of the responsibility that it has taken on.

The developer (as employer) and the contractor will enter into a building contract that reflects the position agreed between them with regards to risk allocation. The contract will also set out clearly what works and design the employer is expecting the contractor to carry out and take responsibility for, in return for the contract sum.

Unless the contractor is appointed for its specialist skills or qualities (where sub-contracting would not be permitted), it is standard in the market for the contractor to then consider which packages of works to sub-contract out to specialist sub-contractors. Typically, it will then enter into a direct sub-contract with each sub-contractor for them to carry out, for an agreed sum, a portion of the obligations that the contractor has taken on under its building contract with the employer. Usually the contractor remains fully responsible to its employer for the works carried out by its

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