Need to hire a specialty contractor, but don’t know where to start? While it’s important to look for subcontractors that possess practical skills, there are certain characteristics to be on the lookout for to hire the best possible workers for the job. Successful specialty contractors are those that blend specific traits with their education and experience to differentiate themselves. Here’s what you need to know about them.
What is a specialty contractor?
The Contractors State License Board defines specialty contractors (also known as subcontractors) as workers who complete parts of a construction project that require more specialized skills, lending their craft to firms looking to outsource their work.
Construction firms benefit in many ways by hiring subcontractors. For one, when you choose the right worker, you can trust that the job will be done properly and to the highest quality standard. Since designated workers are put on the job, it’s likely that tasks will be completed faster, speeding up the timeline while allowing everyone to take on a larger volume of work.
While a subcontractor’s wage is typically higher than that of a regular employee’s, hiring a subcontractor saves money in the long run since they’re only used for one segment of the project rather than for the entirety of it. So unlike employees that require you to pay union fees, benefits, and employment insurance, subcontractors are not a regular and ongoing expense—plus, you’ll get better work than if you were to put an unqualified employee on the job.
All in all, it’s a cost-effective option that many construction firms make use of.
7 qualities of a successful specialty contractor
Here are some qualities to look for when hiring a specialty contractor. These are the qualities that separate the good contractors from the excellent ones.
1. Flexibility and openness to adaptation
The constantly changing nature of construction projects requires a high degree of flexibility. Being able to adapt to unanticipated events is one of the top qualities that you should look for in a subcontractor. An uncompromising attitude, after all, can be detrimental to your project’s progress.
2. Knowledgeable about their trade
The more knowledgeable a subcontractor is about their trade, the more likely they’ll get the job done efficiently, on time and as expected. Hiring a highly-experienced subcontractor that knows their craft inside and out can save you time spent on overhead and money, eliminating the need for constant reworks.
3. Consistency and pride in their work
While it’s important to look for specialty contractors that get things done on time, you’ll want to find workers that don’t sacrifice the quality of their work to meet deadlines. Subcontractors should not only provide regular updates, but have a sense of pride in their work to ensure it’s consistently of high quality. Rushing a job creates room for error, which ends up setting everyone back when it needs to be fixed.
While hearing yes to large amounts of work can be nice in the moment, experiencing delays due to unmet expectations can end up being counterproductive. Being aware of what’s feasible and what isn’t is a great quality for a subcontractor to have, as it helps them avoid promising something they can’t deliver. They should be able to accurately estimate the amount of time needed to properly finish a job.
Subcontractors should also know to read and understand the entirety of their contract before signing to fully understand the scope of their work, suggesting amendments if needed.
5. Reliable and available
A common problem that general contractors often run into when it comes to specialty contractors is their lack of dependability. A subcontractor should respond in a timely manner when contacted and be reliable enough to implement changes when needed. Once you’ve hired a subcontractor, pay attention to whether they show up on time and if they’re meeting important deadlines.
6. Problem-solving and communication skills
Successful subcontractors come prepared and offer potential solutions when there’s a problem. They know how to sufficiently communicate with the team, whether they’re working with other trades on the project or if they themselves have workers under them, providing their workers with the right tools and materials to get the job done right.
7. Develops and sticks to procedures
Procedures ensure that work and communication are consistent, providing an easy and standardized pathway to complete tasks. The best subcontractors know how to develop and stick to procedures when needed to increase productivity and streamline aspects of the job.
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General contractors can improve their project management by assigning people based on availability, identifying allocation issues in real time with a 5 year look-ahead for projects, and creating custom allocations based on labor requirements to maintain and meet workforce needs. Easily visualize your entire project timeline and workforce management flow.
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