Mechanical Contractor vs. General Contractor: Key Differences

Mechanical Contractor vs. General Contractor

Construction companies look for a mechanical or general contractor to successfully execute and deliver projects to clients. Along with that, many companies also invest in construction management software like Bridgit to manage resources. You can visit this link to find out more about mechanical contractors.

Contractors are responsible for multiple project areas, including planning, initiation, procurement, and closure. That also makes them accountable if the project stays behind schedule.

If you’re confused between mechanical and general contractors, this article will help you understand the differences between both in detail.

Mechanical Contractor

A mechanical contractor’s main focus is on mechanical systems, like HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). They are more involved in installing and maintaining the mechanical systems rather than the whole construction.

Although they have experience in the construction industry, they prefer to stay focused on the mechanical side of the project. You can find mechanical contractors in every construction project, like residential, commercial, and industrial.

Some mechanical contractors are generalized and participate in every construction activity, while some are domain-specific. For example, you can find a mechanical contractor working with the following project members:

  • Designers: They make architects and generate blueprints of the structure.
  • Engineers: Civil engineers who know special construction methodologies and relevant technology.
  • Managers: They manage the project using construction management software and ensure the efficient delivery of project milestones.

Some mechanical contractors may only work in a specialized area, like refrigeration. Such versatility in their profession allows them to either become an employee and work for a construction company or lead a project as an independent mechanical contractor.

General Contractor

A general contractor gets involved in every area of a construction project. Unlike mechanical contractors, general contractors hire subcontractors and delegate tasks. They are well aware of the subcontractors’ competency due to being active in the construction industry for several years.

Some general contractors also take over a project completely and keep you updated about the project status. They procure resources and efficiently spend the budget according to the project’s requirements.

General contractors also work as a bridge between the client and the construction company. They report to the client about the project status and resolve any issues that occur during the project. However, general contractors need a mechanical expert to operate mechanical systems.

Differences Between A Mechanical Contractor & A General Contractor

Mechanical and general contractors work differently, and their offices are also separate. You might find a general contractor at the construction site every time you visit it, but no mechanical contractor. That’s because they are most active in their offices, away from the construction site.

So, let’s look at the differences between a mechanical and a general contractor.


Mechanical contractors are mostly active in the HVAC systems in construction. First, they work with the architect and designers to plan the mechanical system and its installation. Then, after planning, they document the mechanical system’s requirements during the construction.

Once the project is complete, mechanical contractors install the mechanical systems in the structure. They also supervise the system’s performance and deploy a team to maintain and repair the system in case of component failure.

General contractors hire subcontractors according to the construction needs. They first check the subcontractors’ expertise and only hire them if they fulfill the eligibility criteria.

Remember that the general contractors prefer hiring previous subcontractors for the construction project. That’s because it’s easier to work with the old workers than hire a new team because of the following reasons:

  • Working Chemistry: Contractors are familiar with the workers’ attitude, coordination, and style of executing tasks.
  • Reliability: Old subcontractors are more reliable than new ones.
  • Affordable: Contractors can hire old workers at reduced prices because of the working relationship.

Job Requirements

You must have an academic qualification (at least a BS mechanical engineering degree) with an apprenticeship certification at a professional construction company. You also need a license to work as a mechanical contractor.

General contractors usually don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Instead, they have years of experience working at the construction site. They start working as a mason, carpenter, or a plumber, and with time, they learn how to manage a construction project.

You need to spend time on different construction projects to understand how things work in the industry. You must also have good communication skills to deal with subcontractors and procure the required resources for the project.

Work Style

Mechanical contractors stay in their offices and work with designers and engineers. Their contribution to the project begins with planning HVAC and other mechanical systems. They visit the construction site, but they don’t interfere with the general contractor unless necessary.

Once the structure is ready, you will find mechanical contractors installing mechanical systems. Some systems need several hours, sometimes days, for deployment. After the installation, mechanical contractors supervise the systems and ensure they work fine. They also get benefits from the company, like health insurance and paid leaves.

General contractors stay at the construction site throughout the project. Since they are the only ones managing the project, companies rely on them and ask them about the project’s status.

General contractors also buy or lease construction equipment from a reliable vendor. Their main target is optimizing resource utilization and delivering the project with quality before the deadline. They might work on holidays and weekends if the project is behind schedule.


The average salary varies from company to company. For example, a mechanical contractor’s annual salary is $81,766, while a general contractor earns over $63,000 per year in the United States.

The following factors affect the salary range for mechanical and general contractors:

  • Company: The company’s size and its clients affect the pay scale of its employees.
  • Experience: Years of experience you have working in the construction industry.
  • Location: The nature of the project and its location also affect the salary for that particular project.

The salary depends on the type of project if you work as an independent mechanical or general contractor.


While mechanical contractors are more specific toward mechanical systems, general contractors cover almost every part of the project. So, if you want to pursue either profession, research more about each contractor type and complete all the job requirements to begin your career.

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