Jordan and I embarked on the journey to build our house in February of this year. Because I am typically involved in my projects from construction through completion, there is a large amount of sub management that I end up doing anyways so we decided to skip hiring a GC and see what we could do ourselves. Here is what we have learned thus far:
1) Hire a GC from Day 1.
Friends. I do this for a living….. take the advice. HIRE A GC FROM THE GET GO. Speaking from personal experience, subs answer the phones for GC’s wayyyyyy before they answer for you.
2) Never, EVER hire guys who are not licensed.
This is one of those things that you really have to be vigilant about. Check CCB registration to see if there are any claims against them and what their current status is. Do not hire crews who are not licensed, even if they appear to have a super solid contract. If things do go south, the courts will not enforce the contract if they find your subs to be unlicensed.
3) Do your homework and ask lots of questions.
Ask, ask, and ask some more. Ask for client recommendations or referrals. Contact them. Look at reviews and make sure to speak up if something starts to feel wrong. It’s your house and often the most important work gets covered up and is extremely difficult (and costly) to remedy later. I hate feeling stupid but throughout this journey I have learned that it is better to look stupid and ask '“dumb questions” than it is to not understand and feel stressed about not having all the facts. A big smile and a lot of humility go a long way. So just ask nicely and I am sure you will be met with a polite response.
4) If you reach a point of feeling unsettled or unsure, or if subcontractors put pressure on you, it’s okay to say ‘no’.
It’s okay to be honest with your concerns and how you feel. If your gut is telling you that something is just not right, trust it. If it is met with a lot of smooth talking or pressure, it’s okay to fire them. I have always believed that a projects outcome is directly linked to the emotional input it receives. HAPPY WORKERS = HAPPY PROJECT. Maybe that’s a little weird but I am super sensitive to other people’s emotions so the more hostility that goes into a project, the more I feel that in the end result. I would rather have a project sit and wait for the right crew than to feel pressured to proceed out of fear it won’t get done. It will get done. For every bad sub, there at ten fantastic ones who are passionate about seeing your project through.
5) Always pay your subcontractors on time (and for bonus points, bring them treats every now and again).
This may seem obvious but I cannot tell you how many times I hear from subs that they are waiting for payment. I’d like to point out that many subcontractors have to purchase a significant amount of materials for their work to continue and often times they are either leveraging profits from other jobs or waiting to pay themselves to cover those expenses. With that in mind, it is SUPER important to pay subs on time and as early as possible. These people work extremely hard and most often a paycheck from you literally puts dinner on the table. It also means A LOT to subs when a client goes out of their way to say ‘thanks’. People in the trades are often treated with little respect and there are sectors (Plumbing, Framing, Excavation, etc.) where they are thought of even less. Be nice. Bring a snack and some water. It’s good for you and it will be good for your home.
Are you in the midst of a remodel or new construction? Share your experiences and advice below!