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Construction Glossary >
Trade Contractor
Construction glossary

What is a Trade Contractor?

AA trade contractor, also known as a subcontractor, is a specialized construction professional hired by a general contractor (GC), construction management property, owner, developer, or other entity to complete specific aspects of a construction project. Trade contractors typically specialize in a particular trade or craft, such as electrical work, plumbing, HVAC installation, framing, roofing, glazing, flooring, or drywall installation. They are bound by a contract that outlines the tasks to be performed, deadlines, and terms of payment. 

Trade contractors are distinguished from GCs in several ways. GCs oversee the entire construction project, managing all aspects from start to finish, including coordinating trade contractors, obtaining permits, and ensuring compliance with building codes and regulations. Trade contractors, on the other hand, focus solely on their specialized area of work and are responsible for completing their specific tasks according to the project's plans and specifications.

Trade contractors face extensive payment cycles, as they cover all labor and material costs upfront for a project yet receive payment last. Progress billing further complicates the matter, mandating that GCs only reimburse trade contractors based on project completion percentage. This system requires trade contractors to invoice GCs every month for the work completed, which exposes them to various factors that can delay progress billing further. These include:

  • using the wrong pay application form, 
  • missing documentation, 
  • lien waiver oversights, 
  • submitting pay apps through the wrong GC portal, 
  • general project delays and disputes, or 
  • the GC’s own cash flow issues.

As a result, most trade contractors wait about 90 days to get paid for the work they’ve already done, which can strain their cash flow and hamper their ability to take on new projects or pay their employees and suppliers.

This is where Siteline comes in. Siteline is a construction billing solution built specifically to streamline the subcontractor A/R workflow. With Siteline, trade contractors can easily generate and submit detailed pay apps tailored precisely to each GC's requirements. The platform also:

  • tracks all compliance requirements and stores pertinent documents;
  • tracks, collects, and submits lien waivers for the sub and their lower tiers; 
  • ensures approved change orders are incorporated into the schedule of values; 
  • provides full visibility into billing statuses across projects—including which GCs pay fastest to better anticipate cash flow; and
  • creates accurate billing projections to monitor progress and effectively manage backlog.

By eliminating manual spreadsheets and centralizing all billing data, Siteline helps trade contractors accelerate their payment cycle by an average of three weeks. Discover how Siteline can get your subcontracting business paid faster by scheduling a demo today.