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David Cartwright

Construction, Business - 4 min read

6 Things to Remember When Managing Subcontractors

Jason Hook

Head of Sales and Marketing

Sep 5, 2016 9:26:40 AM

In a perfect world, subcontractors arrive when they’re needed, complete their work to a great standard and save general contractors time, risk and money.

However, construction projects rarely run in a perfect world.

Seek out the cheapest labour, shirk your management responsibilities and ignore pre-qualifying your hires and you run the risk of shoddy work that needs to be redone. Thankfully, there are a few ways general contractors and project managers can ensure their subcontractors complete their work to schedule and to standard.

Here are six things to remember when managing your subcontractors:


1. Contracts and project safety compliance

All contracts should contain the roles and responsibilities of your subcontractor. Your expectations and project specifications need to be outlined in the contract. Any terms and conditions should be clearly defined and explained to the subs. Within this document, all aspects of remuneration and payment methods are also to be included.

Your subs must be inducted into the project and taken through all safety procedures and requirements upon commencing the job. Safety measures extend to producing quality work and meeting project deadlines. Plus, the subcontractor must have in place suitable health and safety, environmental and industrial relations procedures, which comply with the project.

4 time saving email templates 

2. Provide information ahead of schedule

Your subcontractor should have all the information they need to do their job safely, on schedule and to standard. Ensure your subcontractor has access to this information ahead of schedule and is promptly updated of any changes.

Keeping this timely will support your subs from causing further delays. As you know, a construction project has a lot of moving parts and one delay can have a knock-on effect. Taking the extra time to over-communicate with your subcontractors will save you time down the line. 


3. Hold regular meetings

Regular meetings will once again keep everyone informed and on schedule. These sessions also give subcontractors a platform to express any concerns or matters regarding safety, quality of work, general project issues and potential disputes.  


4. Sign and acknowledge receipt of documentation

Situations can arise where subcontractors claim they have not received individual drawings or documentation to proceed with the job - even if they have been sent. To ensure you’re covered and to prevent this from causing disruption to the construction project, have your subs sign for drawings, revisions and any documents they receive. If a signature isn't required, ask for confirmation via email or text message. Keep their correspondence on file should any disputes arise in the future.


5. Communication Channels

First off, communication needs to be clear and succinct. Always keep subs up to speed with any project changes as soon as possible. Be approachable and listen to any feedback they have. Ask them if they understand, or if they require any further clarification. Remember, you’re working as a team.

Always make notes and keep a diary or log tracking conversations, disputes and how these issues have been settled. Keep all written correspondence on file; you never know when you may need these to clear up miscommunications.


6. Use Construction management software

Construction management software is a lifesaving tool when managing your subcontractors. It helps you with scheduling, keeping a paper trail of all communications and allows you to see where the sub is up to on the project. Even more importantly, it helps you stay within budget. Many of the programs on the market also integrate with accounting software to streamline invoicing and payments.

For more project management advice, download your free copy of the Builder's 10 Minute Toolkit below:

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