Interacting With Your Subcontractors

In any job situation, it is not unusual for the general contractor to allow its subcontractors to use some of the general contractor’s supplies or tools. But is lending materials and equipment to a subcontractor a good idea, and where is the line that should not be crossed? General contractors sometimes loan or give materials or equipment to subcontractors to prevent delays, but the results of such a seemingly simple act could be disastrous.

Set the Tone Right Up Front

When you interview prospective subcontractors, be sure to ask them about their ability to secure needed materials, and their ability to get their hands on the equipment they will need. As a general contractor, it is not your job to make sure that your subcontractors have the resources they need to do their parts of your project. If you find that a subcontractor is ill-prepared to take on the tasks you are hiring them for, then you should move on to a new subcontractor.

Sharing Materials

If your subcontractor asks to use some of your materials, then your company is losing money on that particular project. Remember that you are responsible for the actions of your subcontractors, and that includes subcontractors that try to make materials work in situations where they were not designed to work. You should have a policy that you will not allow subcontractors to use your materials, and you should make that policy known to all subcontractors before you hire them.

Sharing Equipment

If your subcontractor borrows your equipment and damages property or causes injury, then you are still liable for the repercussions of those actions. If your subcontractor borrows your equipment and damages it, then you are in for a long battle in trying to get the subcontractor to pay for those repairs. You should make your subcontractors responsible for their own equipment, and adopt a policy of not sharing equipment on any site.

Sharing Employees

When you interview subcontractors, it is important to let them know exactly what types of tasks they will be responsible for. If the subcontractor does not have the right personnel to get the job done, then it is their responsibility to hire the right personnel. There is a myriad of issues you create when you allow your employees to work for a subcontractor, especially when it comes to liability and worker’s compensation insurance if something were to go wrong.

Sharing a Secured Area

Many general contractors create a secured area for equipment and supplies, and then allow their subcontractors to use those secured areas. This practice is acceptable and can help to reduce on how much extra space is taken up on your jobsite. Before you allow a subcontractor to use your secured area, be sure to get them to sign an agreement outlining your responsibilities and setting the proper expectations.

The reason you hire a subcontractor is to get parts of a job done that cannot do yourself. If you hire a subcontractor and suddenly find your crew, equipment, and materials being used by that subcontractor to get their work done, then it is time to get a new subcontractor.