Just as a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, so too is the crew you choose to work for you. You may think that the general contractor (GC) you’re meeting with is the one doing the work, but they may rarely even be there much less picking up a hammer. “Subs”, short for subcontractors, are not employees of the general contractor, but are rather being brought in to do a specific job within the framework of the larger project.
Know how extensive the scope will be
If it’s a small project and you’re likely hiring a handyman who does all the work, this doesn’t apply. But if it’s more extensive, there are things that you’ll need to know. The more detailed the work, the more people who will be involved — and the more extensive, the more likely that curveballs and snafus will arise. You need to know what to ask and things to watch out for when hiring a crew to do a project for you.
Questions to ask the General Contractor
- Will you be overseeing the work on a daily basis? If not, who will be?
- Who will be doing each aspect of the work?
- Do they work directly for you, or are they subcontractors?
- How long have they worked with you? How many projects?
- Will your crew be working every day until the job is done, or should I expect any breaks in progress to happen? If so, how long would those breaks be?
- Do you have references I can contact?
Benefits of the crew not being subcontractors
Just because a GC has subs on the project doesn’t mean that it will turn out poorly, depending on how extensively the subs have done work for them. If the crew works for the GC directly, they are more accountable to them. Their schedule is also in line with the boss’, whereas a sub is his own boss and their schedule needs to be worked into the equation (which can often delay completion).
An employee of the contractor has probably been trained extensively by them, so when the GC is making a promise of how something will be, it’s more likely to actually turn out the way you were promised it would. Finally, one of the main reasons that a GC doesn’t have someone working full time for them is because they can’t guarantee them enough work — another nod to the contractor that employs their own crew.
Costs can easily run rampant if not discussed upfront and watched throughout. Be absolutely clear with what your budget is, and that you will not go above that number. The GC will be asking you for an initial deposit along with additional deposits as the project goes on. The more definitive that is, the more likely they are to mention when it may be going above it. If you don’t emphasize this upfront and also during the project, the more likely it won’t be mentioned until the end.
As a long-time realtor as well as landlord, I have a lengthy list of tradespeople (contractors, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, painters, etc.), so don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any recommendations you may need.