That the defendant Geary was an independent contractor is one of the defenses on which the city of Asheville relies, and if this defense is established, the merits of others which are claimed to be available will not be discussed. This Court has often applied the doctrine, subject, of course, to certain exceptions, that for the actionable negligence of an independent contractor, the person for whom the work is done cannot be made to respond in damages. Craft v. Timber Co., 132 N. C., 152, 158; Denny v. Burlington, 155 N. C., 33; Greer v. Con *9 struction Co., 190 N. C., 632, 635. It bas endeavored, also, to maintain, tbe equally familiar principle tbat tbe interpretation of a contract wbicb is free from ambiguity involves a matter of law for tbe decision of tbe court and not a matter of fact for tbe determination of tbe jury. Young v. Lumber Co., 147 N. C., 26; Gay v. R. R., 148 N. C., 336. Tbe question we are to consider, therefore, is whether under tbe terms of tbe written agreement Geary was an independent contractor.
.The term “independent contractor” bas been variously defined, but tbe definitions embrace all tbe elements wbicb are essential to an independent contract. “Where the contract is for something tbat may lawfully be done, and is proper in its terms, and there bas been no negligence in selecting a suitable person to contract with in respect to it, and no general control is reserved either in respect to tbe manner of doing tbe work or tbe agents to be employed in it, and tbe person for whom tbe work is to be done is interested only in tbe ultimate result of tbe work, and not in tbe several steps as it progresses, tbe latter is not liable to third persons for tbe negligence of tbe contractor as bis master.” Craft v. Timber Co., supra. “An independent contractor is one who undertakes to produce a given result, but so tbat in tbe actual execution of tbe work be is not under tbe order or control of tbe person for whom be does it, and may use bis own discretion in things not specified.” Young v. Lumber Co., supra. “One who contracts to do a specific piece of work, furnishing bis own assistants, and executing tbe work either entirely in accordance with bis own ideas or in accordance with a plan previously given to him by tbe person for whom tbe work is done, without being subject to the' orders of tbe latter in respect to the details of tbe work, is clearly a contractor and not a servant.” Beal v. Fibre Co., 154 N. C., 147. “One for whom work is done is not tbe master or employer of him who bas contracted to do tbe work when by virtue of tbe terms of tbe contract, tbe latter is an independent contractor; nor does tbe relationship exist between a contractor and bis subcontractor when tbe latter is an independent contractor. An independent contractor bas been defined as one who exercises an independent employment, contracts to do a piece of work according to bis own judgment and methods, and without being subject to bis employer, except as to tbe results of tbe work, and who bas tbe right to employ and direct tbe action of tbe workmen, independently of such employer and freed from any superior authority in him to say bow tbe specified work shall be done, or what tbe laborers shall do as it progresses.” Greer v. Construction Co., supra.
Interpreted in tbe light of these and other decisions of tbe same import, tbe contract, in our opinion, makes Geary an independent contractor. Tbe contract was lawful as to its purpose and proper as to its terms; there is no evidence tbat tbe city was negligent in tbe selec*10tion of Geary; it reserved no general control over the work in respect either to the manner in which it was to be done or to the workmen who were to be employed; it was interested only in the result and not in the several steps of the work as it progressed. Geary contracted to put up the building, to purchase the material and supplies, and to hire the mechanics and laborers. He was authorized to change the plans and specifications — the cost of the additions to be approved by the city, because he agreed to charge for the additional work nothing more than the actual cost. For these reasons, Geary, in our opinion, was not a servant, but an independent contractor, for whose negligence, if any, the city is not liable. Aderholt v. Cordon, 189 N. C., 748; Cole v. Durham, 176 N. C., 289, 300; Simmons v. Lumber Co., 174 N. C., 220; Gadsden v. Craft, 173 N. C., 418.
A municipal corporation exercises certain functions for special or private corporate purposes, and others by virtue of certain attributes of sovereignty. It is contended that in constructing the building the city was in the exercise of a governmental function, but the decision of this question requires evidence which will fully disclose the purposes for which the building was to be constructed and the uses for which it is intended. Whether it is to be used in part for the profit, advantage, or peculiar benefit of the city, or exclusively for purposes of a governmental nature is not clearly revealed.
As to the city, we think the judgment of nonsuit should be affirmed; but we cannot say that there is no evidence as to the negligence of the defendant Geary.
.There is testimony tending to show that the plaintiff was injured by falling from a scaffold which he had helped to build; that he and Brank were working together as carpenters, and that the construction of the scaffold was a part of the work required of them; that the lumber which went into the scaffold was defective and unsuitable for the purpose; that Harrison was a laborer, whose duty it was to see that everyone who asked for material “got it when he wanted it”; that Lee Drake was foreman, and had supervision of the laborers and carpenters; that he told Harrison to get some material for the scaffold; that when it was brought in he told the plaintiff and Brank to build the scaffold out of the material furnished; and, finally, that defective lumber was the cause of the fall, which resulted in the plaintiff’s injury. From this evidence the jury might have drawn the inference that the injury was due to defective workmanship, for which the plaintiff was responsible, or to a failure to inspect the lumber, for which Geary was responsible, or to the concurrent negligence of the plaintiff and Geary.
In Fowler v. Conduit Co., 192 N. C., 14 (p. 18), it is said: “The principles of liability growing out of the use of scaffolds, platforms and walk*11ways, as declared by the decisions of this Court, are as follows: (1) The employer must exercise ordinary care in selecting materials reasonably suitable and safe for the construction of such instrumentalities; (2) ordinary care must be exercised in the construction and inspection thereof; (3) if the employer delegates the construction of such instru-mentalities to one of his employees, he is responsible for the manner in which this duty is discharged, and the employee using such instrumentality has a right to assume that the employer has exercised due care both in the selection of proper materials and in the construction of the instrumentalities.” See, also, Burgess v. Power Co., 193 N. C., 223, and Robinson v. Ivey, ibid., 805.
There is at least some evidence that Geary negligently failed to make the proper inspection, and in consequence, furnished lumber that was defective. Whether the evidence is convincing must be determined by the jury, not by the court.
As to the city, the judgment of nonsuit is affirmed; as to Geary, a new trial is awarded.