What is a subcontractor? The answer to this question seems obvious – a subcontractor is a contractor that contracts with the prime contractor to perform a scope of work on a construction project. However, it is not always easy to distinguish a subcontractor from a materials supplier (sometimes referred to as a “materialman”). That distinction is important in the context of claims by lower-tier subcontractors or materials suppliers on payment bonds, such as those provided by prime contractors on federal and state public works projects. That is, a lower-tier subcontractor or materials supplier may not be entitled to recovery from a payment bond if its contract is with a materials supplier instead of a subcontractor. Therefore, identifying the role of the party with whom a contractor is contracting is a key task the prudent contractor will perform at the outset of a project.