5 Things To Focus On When Hiring A Subcontractor As A Licensed Contractor

Working with a new subcontractor to do a crucial job on your commercial or residential project can test the nerves of even the strongest, most seasoned contractors.

While most contractors have a strong network of co-workers that they can trust, you never know when you’ll need to hire a specialist that’s outside of your network (we once had a client inadvertently demand a load-bearing lattice archway made out of granite!).

Here are 5 things to focus on when hiring subcontractors that you don’t know.

1. Verify Their License

According to a survey by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies, around 40% of contractor complaints are related to unlicensed activity. 

If you’re in a position where you’re hiring subcontractors to do jobs, you already know how important it is to make sure you’re doing in accordance with CSLB requirements – and California law. Step 1 is verifying your potential sub’s license.

First things first: get your subcontractor’s CSLB license number. Once you have that, you can check your potential sub’s license status with the CSLB using their online license checker. 

Once you’ve verified their contractor’s license, you can begin assessing their capabilities as a contractor.

2. Call Up Those References!

This is a no-brainer, but always request references from former clients and contact them to learn about their experience with the subcontractor. 

In many cases, the subcontractor you’re looking at is a friend of a friend or even maybe a family member of one of your existing employees or subs. While you may be tempted to take their word for it, you must make sure they’re not going to put you in legal and financial trouble by doing something stupid.

The best way to verify a contractor’s quality is by speaking to their former employees. That way you can get an objective viewpoint

3. Check Their Communication Skills

You can usually tell pretty quickly whether someone will be a good subcontractor by how they communicate.

Poor communication can increase project costs by up to 20%, so strong communication skills are absolutely necessary for success on a jobsite.

Especially when it comes to the sometimes-surly world of hiring subs, always check that the subcontractor you’re considering can actually communicate – with you and with others. People who can’t communicate have no place on a construction site, as it can not only harm the project but it also creates the potential for conflict or hazardous work situations.

4. Assess their Capacity and Flexibility

Research shows that 85% of projects exceed their initial timeline, so making sure your potential subcontractor even has the resources and time to commit to your project is critical to keeping things on track.

Determine their availability and willingness to work within your project’s timeline. This is your ship, not theirs. Also make sure they can adapt to potential changes in project scope – this is the construction industry, after all, and things are changing in scope or scale all the time. Any good subcontractor will have no problem adapting.

5. Establish An Onboarding Pipeline

If you’re hiring a subcontractor, you need to have all your stuff in order. You and your team need a robust process for hiring, paying and handling paperwork with regards to any subcontractors you hire.

You’ll also need to acquire Workers’ Compensation insurance and liability insurance as well. Establishing a process with your team to handle the administrative load of making sure all your insurance, licenses, contracts and paperwork are all in order is absolutely critical. Not only will it protect you legally, but it’ll make it quicker and easier to hire more people and grow your business.

Conclusion: Building a Robust Team of Subcontractors

Any general contractor worth their salt knows that any successful construction job hinges on the success of its weakest team member, so hire carefully and hire slowly.

At the very least, always always always make sure that your subcontractors are verified CSLB license holders, and you can protect yourself from the worst consequences of a hiring mishap.

This entry was posted in Contractor Business on by .

About CSLS

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit www.MakeMeAContractor.com and tuned for more informative posts.