By David Zuckerman. Remodelers prefer to develop a solid, long-term relationship with their subcontractors. Most use fixed-price contracts, and to keep good subs happy, they pay in full, either immediately or within one week of job completion.

Which of the following statements is most true of your company?

We ask trade contractors to bid competitively on our projects and we use the low bidder 4%

We use the same trade contractors most of the time, but we ask others to bid competitively to keep prices honest 37%

We use the same trade contractors most of the time without asking for any competitive bids 59%

What methods do you use to communicate your quality and service standards to your subcontractors?

"I talk with each sub before every project to discuss client-specific requirements."

Jim Wolffer, Shoreline Builders, Scituate, Mass.

"We use a subcontractor manual."

Bill Schafer, Schafer Builders, Crystal Lake, Ill.

"We use a written policy, a preconstruction meeting, and daily or weekly walk-throughs."

Bill Dionne, Carpentry Services, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

"We have a quality statement that the subcontractor is required to sign before work begins."

Scott Goltz, Goltz Companies, East Bethel, Minn.

"We have a two-page standard of conduct that we expect [subs] to communicate to their employees. We tell them if their work, cleanliness, language, parking, or smoking habits do not comply with that standard. We have back-charged for messy sights, cigarette burns or butt cleanup, and for redo of poor quality."

Alan Hanbury, House of Hanbury Builders, Newington, Conn.

What methods do you use to promote a better relationship with your subcontractors?

"Bonus incentives (including new tools), family days with the company, and just plain good will toward them in the duration of any and all jobs."

Brandt VerSteegh, Sibling Rivalry Design, Garden Grove, Calif.

"Pay on time! Try not to crowd the schedule. Ask them for input on projects, and use their suggestions. Treat them like we would want to be treated."

Christine Johnson, Mil-Ron Custom Construction, Wylie, Texas

"We pay their invoices promptly, and often the company president will write a personal note on the checks to say thank you for a job well done. We also make sure to include cards and gifts to subs each holiday season to show them we appreciate the hard work they do for us."

Patty Naughton, Platt Builders, Groton, Mass.

"I provide positive feedback to the subs on the job and/or call them to thank them for their work. I also provide photos of their work to some subs who may be interested in the finished product. We sponsor an annual event for our main subs."

Mark Mackmiller, Damont Remodeling, Spring Lake, Minn.

"We try to give advances on jobs, completely clarify work prior to their signing the contract, and be available for questions after work begins. We don't always assume the homeowner is right when a complaint arises."

Cynthia Stanley, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, Camarillo, Calif.