Can subcontractors help you win better work?

As business grows, many tradesmen make use of subcontractors to tackle bigger projects. But with your own reputation on the line, it’s easy to be reluctant to allow other people on your job. MyBuilder spoke to some tradesmen to find out the steps they take to ensure continued growth while keeping their reputation intact.

What are your views on subcontracting? Please leave your advice below.


Trust is key

Finding the right subcontractor is all about trust; you need to know they are a professional who can complete the work in a timely and efficient manner. A lot of subcontracting work becomes available because it requires skills outside of your knowledge. For example, we often hear from carpenters who move into bathroom fitting, but need to employ a plumber and electrician to complete the project.

Sometimes you won’t be able to judge the quality of someone with a different trade from you. Employing someone just because they seem knowledgeable isn’t enough. You need to be sure they will reflect positively on you. You could say you are in a similar position to a customer when they hire a tradesman.

Finding the right subcontractors

Recommendation is a great start, but not always possible. Neil from NMW Building Services has two sons in the trade, so he’s confident of their skills. While he is in a fortunate position, you might not be able to judge the competency of someone you’ve met during the course of your travels.

Even if you know someone pretty well, it doesn’t hurt to ask them for qualifications. You know how important specialist knowledge is, especially for certifiable trades like electrical or gas work. The last thing you want is a gas cooker installed by somebody who isn’t Gas Safe!

You can also ask for references. This is something we recommend homeowners do. Anyone worth their salt will be only too happy to show off their previous work. While this may feel a bit uncomfortable, remember that you will ultimately be responsible for any job they do for you.


Working together

Once the subcontractor is onboard make sure they know the ground rules. Do you hoover the house at the end of the day? They should know that. What’s the rules for using the loo? Enforce your rules in a tough but fair manner. Kerry Chapman, a MyBuilder roofer, operates a refereeing system. Two yellow cards or a straight red and his subbies are off the job.

You also need to keep up your communication with the homeowner. They want one key point of contact and that’s likely to be you. Too many cooks can derail a project so any projects decisions should be agreed between yourself and the homeowner. If a subbie wants to make changes, make sure you know about them beforehand.

It’s often the case that a plumber who has come in to help with the kitchen then gets asked to do additional work down the line. You need to make clear that you are not responsible for any ongoing relationship after your project is completed. That’s if you are happy for this to happen at all.

mybuilder Use MyBuilder

Finally, if you want some extra peace of mind why not hire through MyBuilder? A lot of tradesmen use the site because they trust the review system and enjoy the ability to leave feedback. MyBuilder tradesman Jack O’Riordan says, “I wouldn't want to use someone from the yellow pages because it could make me look bad. If I use someone off MyBuilder there is accountability.”

There are many potential upsides to branching out into project work. More variation and the stability of long-term projects are just some of them. But bigger jobs come with bigger responsibility. Make sure you are confident with everybody who is working on your project. You never know, you might make a few new friends!

We'd really like to hear you experience of working with subcontractors. What are your tips for a good working relationship? 

Read Related articles here: Finding the Right Builder

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