How to find (good) subcontractors

Subcontractors can help you scale your business. Use these tips to find good, reliable subcontractors and grow your business.

finding subcontractors

Finding potential subcontractors can be a challenge, let alone finding good ones. This can pose a problem, seeing as a contractor is only as good as their team. Often, the quality of a finished construction project hinges upon the workmanship of your subcontractors.

Wondering how to find subcontractors that will help your team excel? Let’s dive in.

How to find subcontractors as a general contractor

There are fantastic subcontractors in practically every city. But how do you track them down? Just like you would most any other profession: by searching.

Finding the right fit comes down to due diligence in building relationships. That said, there are several ways you can begin the hunt, including:

Talk to current or past subcontractors – The contracting industry is driven by word of mouth and personal recommendations. If you have a construction project that requires a specialist or a niche subcontractor, don’t be afraid to ask established contractors for advice. In all likelihood, they’ve worked with dozens of candidates or know of someone in their network who’d be perfect for the gig.

Ask around – For starters, consider asking friends and neighbors for good subcontractor references. Being that many people don’t know the ins and outs of construction, you may be better off speaking with contacts within the construction industry. They’ll likely be willing and able to offer good advice, particularly if it’s not a sub that they’re currently using.

Use social media and online forums – There are plenty of online groups or messaging boards that are location focused. Find a forum and post a general question to see if anyone has recommendations. This is especially useful if you’re new to the area.

Conduct an online search – Similarly, there are specific sites that are built to help connect people and jobs, including:

Or, you could go a more formal route and use job boards like Indeed or Monster.

Speak to specialty suppliers – You likely have plenty of contacts within various supply stores. They too establish relationships with tradesmen in their field. For instance, a lumber supplier likely knows plenty of carpenters; an electronics supplier probably works closely with quality electricians.

Consult with interior designers – An interior design team must work closely with subcontractors. And since they’re not in charge of the hiring and aren’t your direct competition, designers may be willing to provide a more unbiased opinion on the quality of the subcontractor.

Hiring good subcontractors

Locating subcontractors is only step one of the process. To find out whether or not they’re actually a good fit, there are steps you must first take:

Interview them – Just like with any job, the hiring process begins with an interview. This allows you to gauge whether or not they’re right for the job. Things to consider include:

  • Can they communicate effectively?
  • What is their previous work experience?
  • How well do they know their craft?

If they pass your screening, you can move onto the next phase.

Explain the job – Provide a clear description of the job and the scope of work, showing both drawings and written specifications. The more detail you include, the better off both parties will be.

Solicit bids – If you’ve found a few options that feel like a good fit, then encourage them to submit bids.

Check for qualifications – It’s important that you hire a reliable subcontractor that is qualified to do the job. They must be able to demonstrate proof that they’ve obtained all of the required certifications, licenses, and insurance.

Sign the contract – Create a standard subcontractor agreement you use with all of your subcontractors (if you don’t have one already). The written contract should cover all relevant legal requirements for the state or county, and include the scope of work, price, and payment schedule. It should also include critical details such as scheduling, clean up, and a written warranty. Don’t assume that anything not included in the contract would hold up in court should a dispute arise. Make sure you include all the “important stuff” in the contract and update the contract, with signatures from both parties should any of the contract terms change.

This stage is all about transparency and accountability. By setting clear expectations, goals, and deadlines from the outset, you position yourself to hire the best person for the job (and to create the healthiest relationship once the project is in motion).

Once you’ve engaged them, be sure to treat them right. Build relationships, pay them on time, and establish open lines of communication. With the right prep work and diligence, you’ll be able to keep on rehiring them down the road.

Protect your business

Now that you know how to find a good subcontractor, is your business protected from their actions? Do you have safeguards in place to protect you from liability? Although it’s important that they have their own insurance, you never know what their policy does or doesn’t cover.

Put simply, you need a general liability insurance policy to protect your business from liability related to third-party property damage, bodily injury, or personal and advertising injury.

So, how can you find liability insurance that’s right for your business?

Enter Thimble.

We make insurance simple, affordable, and flexible. Our policies go by the hour, day, or month—that way you’re covered when you’re on the job and saving money when you’re off.

It takes less than 60 seconds to get protected from liability. Just click “Get a Quote” or download the Thimble mobile app, enter a few details, and make your purchase. A Certificate of Insurance (COI) will be sent to your email inbox instantly. That’s all? Yep. It’s that easy.

Finding success as a general contractor often comes down to a few things—working hard, partnering with the right team, and mitigating risk.

You focus on the job and the team you’re building. We’ll focus on protecting you from the inherent risks you face on a day-to-day basis.

Together, we can build the framework for long-term success.

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

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