Subcontractors are a fundamental requirement for the execution of most larger construction projects. It is important to establish a good relationship with your subcontractors in order to encourage a positive work ethic and a quality finished product. Here is an outline of some of the areas we believe should be considered when working with subcontractors to help establish this positive relationship.
It's important to have a clear plan and outline of what you require to be completed by your subcontractors for your project. Having a clear action plan and written outline of what needs to be done is a good way to ensure the required tasks are completed and encourages efficient time management.
Issues often faced by management and subcontractors include:
Be organised from the beginning of your project. Walk your subcontractors through your action plan and if you predict potential changes may arise throughout the duration of the project, make sure your subcontractors aware of this so you can set up a contingency plan.
Understand the volatile nature of construction projects and be realistic about the potential delays that may occur. When engaging subcontractors ensure you allow some wiggle room in case there are delays outside of your control (such as unpredictable weather). It may be smarter to schedule your subcontractors to work one week longer than the proposed project completion date, so that you still have them locked in and available if you need them.
Allowing the subcontractors a window of time at either end of the project will ensure all their work will be finished within the project time frame. Preparing for delays will prevent the project from running over time and therefore going over budget. Following these suggestions will lower the chances for disappointment and maintain a positive relationship between you and your subcontractor.
Set a meeting before the project commences in order to be on the same page as your subcontractors. Communicating what each person’s role entails will avoid conflict as this will establish an agreed upon respect for each others input.
Communicating expectations will:
It's important to remember that they are professionals and you hired them because they are experts in their field. Trust your choice, don't tell them how to do their job, give guidance as a manager not an instructor.
Expenses and budgets are often difficult to predict, especially with project management. It is important that when working with subcontractors, you convey the budget restrictions you're working within and explain the limits. Being upfront and transparent will encourage a positive working relationship.
Manage your budget by:
By doing some forward thinking and being selective with quotes, you will avoid stress and disagreements about finances with your subcontractors.
No one likes to do weeks or months of work without getting paid. If you want to have a solid relationship with your subbies, treat them how you would want to be treated, and pay them on time, every time! Not paying your subbies is a sure fire way to create some tension. While there may be reasons outside your control as to why you can't pay them on time, ensure you maintain an open channel of communication by confirming you're aware of their payment and that it is on your priority list. Never be tentative to talk about payments, keep everyone on the same page and pay your subbies on time.
Do your research! Choose a subcontractor you're comfortable with and you can see the potential for developing a healthy working relationship with. This is important for developing good communication and if they respect you they will be more inclined to work hard on your project.
When choosing the subcontractor for your job:
If you have a positive attitude and are working with subcontractors you trust, it will be easy to establish a good working relationship.
Being organised is an art from and a key component for building good relationships within any job and role. Keeping your project in order can prevent unexpected hiccups within a project, which may lead to conflict or tension.
There are plenty of tools and online resources out there to help keep you and your business organised. We've created a free Gantt Chart template which you can download and use to help stay on top of all your tasks and manage your subcontractors through the project process.
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Formerly known as the PlantMiner blog, Felix Project News is Australia's top 10 Construction blog.
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