As a subcontractor, there are times when you may feel like a small fish in a big sea and can be easily overwhelmed by the legalities of it all.
You might be tempted to take on every job on offer. However, it’s important to consider choosing the right job, and the right General Contractor, for your business. This choice can help you avoid future problems with payments, or even lengthy court cases.
Also, if you find the perfect General Contractor and establish a good relationship, you are likely to secure regular work for years to come.
Richard Lyall, Strategist and Executive with over 35 years in the residential building industry, told Jobsite ANZ, “There is no substitute for gathering information on a company to determine whether to do business with them or not. This can be done by checking with businesses that have done or are doing business with them.
“What is the company’s track record? How fast have they expanded or declined? How long have they been in business? Who runs the company? What is their reputation? Have they been involved in contract litigation? If so, why and what happened? It pays to take the time to learn as much as possible.”
So here are our top tips to follow when considering working with a new General Contractor.
Check Reputation and Job History
You are about to enter a business relationship and like all relationships, it pays to know who you are hopping into bed with.
Before committing to working with a new General Contractor, consider:
- Do they have the capabilities to carry out this job in its entirety?
- Have they worked on similar projects, or is this a new arm of their business?
- Are they known to complete projects on time?
- Do they have more projects in the pipeline, but not so many it may put pressure on their current projects?
- Do they work with the same subcontractors on numerous projects?
A good place to start is their website, Linkedin, and Facebook. On these platforms, you can find comments and discussions that could give you some insight into their practices.
Look at their Client Communications and Internal systems
Communication is the key to any good relationship. It makes sense to look at the way the company interacts with their clients and their subcontractors. Will you be able to get in touch with someone easily throughout the job?
Do they have the appropriate construction management software to allow for realtime communication and access for subcontractors?
Do they have systems in place to ensure good project-coordination and collaboration?
At the end of the day, poor communication can negatively affect productivity. This, in turn, is more than likely to reduce profit margins and might even delay the project in the long run.
View their Business Credentials
It’s not uncommon for contractors to produce their credentials for clients, so it’s only fair they do the same for their subbies.
Things you may want to look at include their work health and safety record, finances, bond capabilities, insurance coverage, project portfolio and as previously mentioned by Lyall, their litigation history.
Choosing a general contractor that has a strong financial track record is crucial to lower the risk of payment issues.
Take time with the Contract
The contract is extremely important. It needs to be understood by both parties, so it pays to sit down and have an honest discussion around any possible issues either party may have. You can use this opportunity to see how the General Contractor handles your questions and concerns.
You need to read through every aspect of the contract to make sure it is mutually beneficial in order to engage a positive relationship from the start.
Another thing you can do is follow construction news relevant to your business. Take note of any General Contractors making news for the right, or wrong, reasons. You may also want to actively seek out potential General Contractors you’d like to work with. This could be based on the types of projects they regularly do, their focus on sustainability, or any other aspects that make them a good match for you and your business.
You can find out more about your rights as a subcontractor here.