Four traits to look for when hiring subcontractors

Four traits to look for when hiring subcontractors


When you’re planning a construction project, picking the right subcontractors can make or break the entire affair. They are often the most underrated part of the team, so it’s important you choose them wisely. A subcontractor is capable of providing a fresh perspective or extra spark that can bring a seamless build together. If you’re struggling to find someone, following the steps we outline below can help you find the right person for the job.

1 – Check their reputation

Reputation, or what some might call ‘personal brand’, is a tough thing to build and maintain, and while it takes years of successful work to create, it can be destroyed completely with only one bad job. To the tradesman industry in particular, reputation means a lot. A worthwhile subcontractor will usually have decent status in their field, accumulated through a series of successful jobs, word of mouth and amassing testimonials. Alternatively, you could take a risk and go for someone younger, qualified, and talented over someone else with more experience.

However you make your decision, checking the reputation of your chosen contractor is important, and pretty straightforward. All you need to do is ask their former clients. For instance, if a family member or friend has hired them before, they’ll be able to give you an honest assessment of the quality of their work. A quick review is very useful, but don’t treat it as a foregone conclusion unless their work has gone terribly wrong. Opinions aren’t always subjective and trustworthy, so make sure to check from as many sources as possible, including social media, review websites and more.

2 – Ask for objective referrals and evidence of previous work

Beyond word of mouth reviews, you should also seek out formal references and testimonials, and follow through with them by phone to get a more informal take. While personal opinion can be subjective, references and photographic or video evidence of a subcontractor’s work can truly help you decide whether a tradesman did a good job. When accompanied by a more casual summary, a positive official recommendation from previous employers is a surefire way to certify that you have found the best subcontractor for the job.

3 – Make sure they are insured

Although subcontractors do not need to be licensed in the UK, they still need qualifications and insurance. As a small business, it’s critical that you take out the right amount of insurance to cover issues like property damage, or injuries caused by your work. The same applies to subcontractors, who need certain certifications before being hired, so it’s important you verify that these are in date and legitimate before you take one on. Not only is this necessary for them to legally do their job, but it also gives a good indication that they’re sufficiently qualified, and well-versed in relevant safety measures.

4 – Ensure they charge a fair price

Although you should always start your search by taking references and work history into account, there is nothing wrong with listening to your gut when looking for a subcontractor. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, your instincts will start to tell you certain things. For example, if the subcontractor offers a ridiculously low price, it may be worth questioning why. This is very much an industry where you get what you pay for: if someone is offering a deal that appears too good to be true, it likely is. A person that offers a low price may be attractive for your budget, but if the quality is unsatisfactory, it could cost you more in the long term in redoing the work or repairing any damage. Instead, it’s best to opt for a subcontractor who charges a fair and honest price for their skills and services.

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