Understanding the Role of the Sub-Contractor

Your building project is set to go, you have the land, the designer has created the building of your dreams, your lawyer has checked your contract with the builder, the civil engineer has developed the site plan, and the building authority has approved the plans, what’s next?  If you want your project to become that building you dreamed of, you next need to verify that the sub contractors the builder is using are up to the standards you expect.

The phrase “sum of all parts” relates to your decision on choosing the builder and thus the builder choosing the sub contractors.  As the owner, you should be aware of what phases or tasks your builder will be sub-contracting and which firm will be doing the work.  The builder is responsible for ensuring the work is completed and in accordance with state and local regulations.  Key areas like HVAC, plumbing and electrical may be subb’ed to smaller firms that specialize in that type of work.  If the builder is sub-contracting tasks to sub-quality subcontractors, then you will want to re-visit your choice of builder.  Remember, it is not just the main components but also the smaller tasks such as tile work or stone masonry that will need good quality subs.  These jobs deserve special consideration as the craftsmanship of the installer will determine the outcome of the job.  An understanding from the builder that they will guarantee the sub-contractor’s quality of work is essential.

In order to determine the quality of the sub-contractors, first you need to obtain from the builder a list of all the sub-contractors that will be working on the construction project.  Check for any relationship that may exist between the contractor and the sub.  Why does the contractor recommend the sub?  Does the sub work for an off-shoot of the contractors company?  How does the contractor know the sub?  How often has the builder used the sub for other projects?  What, if any, is the financial relationship between the contractor and the sub?  You should also make sure that the sub-contractors cannot also sub-contract the work.  If this is the case then the examples that you have seen of the work may not be the same quality as the work you receive.  You should obtain a copy of the sub-contractors license in the state, county and/or city in which the construction will take place.  In addition, make sure you know if the builder will be paying the sub-contractors or will you as the owner.  Either way, be sure to get the lien release!

No matter how good your builder is the outcome of the job depends on the quality of the work of the sub contractors.   The final image of your project depends on the quality of the work produced by all the builders involved.

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