5 tips for managing subs during your home renovation

Being your own general contractor can be a great way to save a pretty penny on any home renovation project if you’re up for the challenge. With a little bit of preparation it’s possible to have the kitchen or bath of your dreams without knowing the difference between a pipe wrench and a blow torch.

All you’ve got to do is hire the right sub-contractors!

But managing your team isn’t always a walk in the park. Here are five tips to keep your crew working together like a well-oiled machine.

1. Be diligent with good hiring practices

Finding quality craftsmen at an affordable price is half the battle. Here are a couple pointers to ease the pain:

  • Ask around to see if anyone you know has a plumber, electrician, tile guy, etc. that they can recommend. If all else fails scour the internet for online reviews.
  • Make sure all bids are done in “apples-to-apples” fashion. You do this by clearly defining the scope of work.
  • Require all contractors be bonded and insured. Period.
  • Be leery of any sub who requires a large up front deposit.

2. Get it in writing

Forget about any “romantic” notions of doing business with a handshake and a smile. Dealing with subs means writing up contracts and signing on the bottom line.

Make sure your contracts clearly define the work to be done as well as time parameters and any other constraints you expect contractors to work within. Be sure to include quality standards and an acceptance process along with an unambiguous definition of each party’s responsibilities.

3. Foster integration through scheduling

Never assume that different contractors understand how their “piece” fits in with the overall puzzle. If you need your drywall guys to be finished up by Friday when the painters are coming in, communicate this fact.

Remember, acting as your own GC requires figuring out which tradesmen you need when and working out a schedule to make sure you’re not paying workers to stand around.

Allow wiggle room in the schedule to play catch up when necessary. Delays are bound to happen one way or another so being prepared really pays off.

4. Keep an open mind

Whether it’s to save time or money or just to achieve a higher quality outcome, often sub-contractors will offer up an alternative way of doing something.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss an expert tradesman’s advice based on skepticism.

If your gut feeling is that they’re trying to cut corners, hold your ground, but be sure to give any reasonable suggestion due consideration.

5. Tell them what you want

This one seems like a no-brainer but it’s not.

Every customer is a little bit different and sub-contractors aren’t mind readers. They won’t know where your priorities lie unless you explicitly lay them out on the line.

One client might be happy with fast and “good enough” if it means saving a few bucks on labor. Another client could prefer to pay a little extra for perfectionist quality work.

Letting your subs know exactly what you want greatly increases the likelihood you’ll get it!

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