How to hire a Sub-Contractor

When choosing a subcontractor for your project it is best to strike a balance between quality and price. Sometimes blindly accepting the lowest price bid could bring you a lot of problems. You have to make sure the subcontractor you choose does high quality work. A cheap subcontractor that does lousy work wont be worth any amount of money.

The best way to look for them is to ask people who have recently built or gotten work done who they used. Getting a referral is great because you can see the quality of the workmanship the subcontractor provides from a first hand client. If you can't find anyone who has had any construction or remodeling done, the next best place to look is the yellow pages.

When you call the subcontractor on the telephone, make sure to schedule a face to face meeting. This will allow you to get your first impressions on how professional the subcontractor is. When you go and see them take your bid package which would include your blue prints and any specifications that you desire.

While you are there with the subcontractor, this is a great time to ask him some questions. Find out what kind of liability coverage he carries, the expiration date on his state worker's insurance. Also make sure his local business licence is current and in good standing. If the subcontractor does not have insurance, do not hire him. You will just be asking for trouble.

Don't depend on the contractor to give you references. If you do, they may give you the names and phone numbers of family and friends who will always give a great review of him although he may not be very good after all. The best way to check up on his work is to go to the job sites he is currently working on and check them out.

After giving him the bid package, set a deadline for his response and simply go home and wait. I would suggest going through this with at least three different subcontractors for each job. This gives you the ability to compare them and choose the best one.

When writing up the specifications for your bid package, you want to be as specific as you can so you can truly compare apples to apples when you get your bids back. Do not let the contractor add a "Or Equal" clause to your materials or you may find yourself with lower grade stuff in your home or project than you planned for.

When you receive your bids you may notice a big variance in price ranges. This is the reason why it is important to get at least 3 different bids. Make sure each bid has the price, terms and a description of the job that is going to be done. This allows you to compare the bids more easily. If you are unsure if the bid covers a specific aspect that has been left out, call the contractor on the phone and get a straight answer. You want to clearly understand everything they are offering.

If any bid comes to you with a time limit and a request for your signature to accept it, DO NOT SIGN. You never want to use the subcontractor's contract. You are hiring them, it should be your contract that they sign, not the other way around.

It is worth negotiating with the subcontractors and accept the best deal you can work out. Make sure though that you are getting a good value for good work and not just a cheap price.

When it comes time to put it under contract, it may be worth it to get a the legal document prepared by a real estate attorney. If you don't want to do that, there are some resources online to find some standard subcontractor contracts that you could check out. Make sure that your project is protected by having a clause that gives the subcontractor penalties for running behind schedule. This will give them incentive to work quickly and on time.

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Ernie Arrizza

Ernie Arrizza

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Kelleher Real Estate Inc., Brokerage*
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