Tips for Improving the General Contractor and Subcontractor Relationship on a Project

Tips for Improving the General Contractor and Subcontractor Relationship on a Project

The health of the general contractor and subcontractor relationship determines the outcome of the project. If the relationship is strained, work on the current or future project will become strained and both parties will walk away with negative views of each other. These tips for improving the general contractor and subcontractor relationship on a project will help save these relationships.

Role of General Contractors

General contractors bid on construction projects knowing they will hire subcontractors for specific portions of the contract. The general contractor pays the subcontractor when the project is over and is in charge of them. The general contractor is also responsible for the well being of the project and ensuring everything meets the specifications. If something with the construction goes wrong, the general contractor is responsible for fixing it.

Role of Subcontractors

Subcontractors bid on projects within their field and are responsible to the general contractor. They usually get all information about the project from the general contractor rather than from the architects or owners.  This passage of information has many pitfalls for miscommunication. They are also dependent upon the general contractor for all payment as well as the understanding of the contract. The subcontractor is responsible if the work is over budget or is delayed.

Strains to the General Contractor and Subcontractor Relationship

General contractor and subcontractor relationships become strained for four reasons. Typical strains to the general contractor and subcontractor relationship are delays in payments, delays in the schedule, not adhering to the contract or budget, and quality of work. These strains make it difficult for both general contractors and subcontractors to trust each other. And it negatively impacts their relationships during the project. Sometimes it negatively impacts both the general contractor and subcontractor’s reputations.

Tips to Improve the General Contractor and Subcontractor Relationship

To prevent strains to the general contractor and subcontractor relationship, there are a few considerations to take before entering the contract. These tips will help both general contractors and subs navigate their relationship to produce better results and beneficial relationships. Everyone wins!

1. Professionalism

From site review to project completion, professionalism is the first step in crafting you better relationships. Subcontractors with a professional appearance, professional communication, and a professional bid package have a leg up on other subcontractors. But that professionalism has to continue into the job. If the general contractor can’t reach the sub or if regular communication lapses, the relationship will decline.

2. Open Communication

Just as it’s important to have professional communication, communication itself is important. General contractors that don’t communicate project needs, concerns, or suggestions to the subcontractor will end up disappointed. Same goes for subcontractors, if they have questions or concerns it’s important to communicate those to the general contractor. Open communication solves many issues before they arise and is a great benefit to the general contractor and subcontractor relationship.

3. Following the Contract

Contracts contain the specific details of how the project should be done, how payment will be handled, how to submit any additional paperwork or expenses, and how conflict will be handled. Not reading the full contract, or not paying attention to the full contract is often how relationships break down. It’s an easy fix that will save general contractor and subcontractor relationships.

4. Avoiding Bad Fits

Subcontractors that read the project details and visit the site will immediately know if it is the right fit. Whether you don’t have enough workers to complete a project, or you don’t have the right experience, this can easily break a general contractor and subcontractor relationship. When general contractors select a sub, they expect the sub to be able to complete the work as planned. If the sub can’t complete the work, that reflects poorly on the sub and general contractor and can negatively impact both of their relationships.

5. Staying on Budget and Schedule

Above all else, staying on budget and schedule is an instant boost to any general contractor and subcontractor relationship. If the subcontractor’s work isn’t within budget or on time, then a general contractor will face pressure that they transfer to the subcontractor. This will fray relationships between the two and negatively impact the reputations of both the subcontractor and general contractor.

These simple tips can help craft relationships between general contractors and subcontractors that will benefit both parties for years and projects to come.