How to Select a Subcontractor


A subcontractor provides a specialized portion of a contracted job. The term is most often associated with the construction industry but a subcontractor can be anyone hired to complete an assigned job. When you choose a subcontractor, keep some guidelines in mind.

  • Determine the extent of the job you will choose a subcontractor to complete. If you need sheetrock installed and tiled, two separate subcontractors are necessary, one for drywall application and the other for tiling.

  • Prepare a job completion description. This will be a detailed drawing of the project, including measurements and an accompanying list of the work to be completed. Make your description as thorough as possible.

  • Call for bids. You can advertise the job or you can call known subcontractors to request a bid or an estimate. Supply them with a job completion description so they can bid competitively.

  • Choose the subcontractor not only by price but also on the quality of his former work. Getting a "deal" won't mean much if the work is shoddy. Ask for references to the subcontractor's last three jobs and call his clients to discuss their satisfaction.

  • Request a valid insurance certificate. This step is only required if you are hiring a subcontractor for a job that presents an element of risk. In the construction industry, it is imperative. The subcontractor will contact his insurer who will then mail you a copy of his policy.

  • Ask to see the subcontractor's credentials if the job entails a trade that is regulated in your state. Most electricians and plumbers are licensed but only a few states regulate painters, floor installers and tapers.

  • Use subcontractors that you know consistently produce quality work at a fair price. When you need a job completed quickly, choose a known professional. Sometimes, you don't have the luxury of asking for bids. In that case, rely upon former dealings with a subcontractor and ask him for a "ballpark" figure. Realize that his final cost may vary.

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