In the past few years, more remodeling companies have been relying on subcontractors. Mike Holland, division president at Marek Brothers Systems, in Houston, and winner of the American Subcontractors Association’s 2012 Excellence in Ethics award, offers the following tips for creating a good working relationship between subcontractors and remodeling company owners.
Same team, same place: It’s easier to work on-the-fly when you repeatedly use the same subcontractors, and it’s more efficient for a fast-moving job. “You know each other and you know how each works,” Holland says, “so you ask fewer questions that might slow things down.”
Client clues: Trade partners rely on the remodeling contractor to “vet” the homeowner client for financial purposes, integrity, and aligned expectations. Subs want to know beforehand if they are going into a situation with a difficult client.
Whose watch: Communication, work sequence, and access are all critical to the efficiency and productivity of craft labor, but this can only be accomplished with sufficient quality onsite supervision by the remodeling contractor. “Trade partners can’t be expected to coordinate a job themselves,” Holland points out, especially when there are homeowners, changing conditions, and safety issues.
Changes in order: Trade partners need to know the rules of engagement and who has the authority to direct change orders. This will ensure that only the right work is performed and the trades are paid for the work done.
Company connector: There have to be clear channels of communication between architects, tile installers, plumbers, interior designers, etc. Someone has to be the liaison between all partners to set clear expectations for each of them. “If you just roll out the ball and say [to subs], ‘You guys go to work,’ the results could be disastrous.”
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