So, you’ve chosen to work with a design-build firm to remodel your home. Although they usually do most of the remodeling work using an in-house construction team, there are a few exceptions. Some jobs, such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and drywall get subcontracted out to specialized tradesmen. Fortunately for you, you happen to know a great subcontractor who fits the bill perfectly. The question is, can you hire your subcontractor friend to work on your house with the design-build firm?
As one of Portland’s leading design-build firms, our team at Lamont Bros. has spent years developing relationships with subcontractors across the Portland metro area. However, we sometimes have clients ask us if they can hire their own subcontractor instead of one of our usual partners. Often, we find that going in this direction isn’t always helpful or efficient. However, there are occasions when it makes sense to work with a contact provided by the client.
In this article, you can read about when it may be appropriate to bring in a subcontractor to work with your design-build firm. We’ll discuss several reasons why hiring a subcontractor you know may or may not be the best decision for your remodel. Here, you can read about:
- Your options for hiring your own subcontractor
- The requirements of a subcontractor working with a design-build firm
- When a subcontractor is a good fit for the design-build process
- When a subcontractor is not a good fit for the design-build process
What are my options if I want to hire my own subcontractors?
Let’s say you’re extensively remodeling your kitchen and it requires a lot of electrical work. Let’s also say that you have a regular electrician who has worked on your house many times. Since he’s been here before, you feel more comfortable hiring your electrician. After all, he already knows your house pretty well. Can you hire him to do the electrical work instead of one of our regular subcontractors?
Short answer: It’s your house, and you can do what you want with it. However, if you’re working with a design-build firm like Lamont Bros., your construction contract likely includes a jobsite exclusivity clause. This essentially means that during the remodel, only employees of the firm or approved subcontractors can be present on site to do work. We do this to maintain order and oversight of the remodeling process. When outside contractors are also present on a jobsite, they introduce several unknown factors to the equation. These unknowns may affect scheduling, safety, and project efficiency. As a result, remodeling companies like Lamont Bros. do not allow other contractors on-site without prior approval.
So, if you want to hire your own subcontractor and a design-build firm, there are two options. The first option is to hire your subcontractors before or after the design-build company works on your home. However, we don’t recommend going this route, as it often makes the job unnecessarily difficult for the subcontractor and design-build firm. The design-build team may also have to redo some of the subcontractor’s work if it doesn’t meet quality standards.
The more effective option is to incorporate the subcontractor into the official design-build process. In this approach, the design-build firm will work with the subcontractor to include them in the planning and scheduling of the project. This way, the design-build team maintains oversight of the remodel and the subcontractor receives clear instructions. In addition, the subcontractor can now work on the jobsite alongside the design-build team, and all parties involved are subject to the same contract, schedule, and quality control measures.
What are the requirements for hiring your own subcontractor?
If you already have a subcontractor who you would like to incorporate into the design-build process, they will have to follow certain procedures. While every design-build firm operates a little differently, you can get a general idea of how the process works by reading about Lamont Bros.’ policy below.
Subcontractors must work through the firm’s production process
If you hired a design-build firm to perform your remodel, chances are, the remodeling process is important to you. You want a remodel that runs smoothly, stays on schedule, and produces a high-quality final build. The way a design-build firm provides an excellent remodeling experience is by overseeing every aspect of the remodel from start to finish.
When you want to hire a subcontractor from outside of the design-build firm’s network, they should still work through the design-build process. This means they will need to be present at pre-construction site walks, follow the agreed-upon design plans, and coordinate scheduling with the project manager. The subcontractor should also set up payment through the design-build firm’s billing system so you pay for all of the work directly to one entity.
Subcontractors must meet quality & certification requirements
At Lamont Bros., we set quality standards and certification requirements for all of our employees and subcontractors. As a company with a reputation for high-end remodeling services, we only work with subcontractors who are prepared to uphold that reputation. We also require that our subcontractors are state-licensed, fully insured, and follow all applicable employment laws.
You might know a retired plumber who does great work and is willing to help with your remodel. Unfortunately, we can’t hire any tradesman who isn’t current on their certifications or properly insured. In the unlikely event that something does go wrong, this would be a huge liability. As a result, we thoroughly vet all of our subcontractors to ensure that they can adhere to these standards.
Subcontractors must follow the design-build chain of command
One of the greatest benefits of a design-build firm is that they serve as a single point of contact to the client throughout the entire remodel. Your remodeling team’s leaders answer directly to you, the homeowner. They ensure that all personnel involved in the project understand and execute the vision of the remodel.
When you bring in an outside contractor, they must maintain that structure of authority. It’s important to recognize that the subcontractor doesn’t work directly for you. Rather, the design-build firm works for you, and the subcontractor works for the design-build firm. This way, all parties involved are on the same page, and there is a lower chance of miscommunication.
By maintaining full project oversight, your design-build team can better ensure that your remodel meets your expectations and stays within budget.
When is an appropriate time to hire your own subcontractor?
In many cases, there are “green flags” that indicate a subcontractor who will be a good fit for your project. If you know a contractor who fits these three categories, they’re off to a good start.
They are familiar with your home and know how to work on it
Prior experience with a home is a huge advantage when working with a subcontractor. So, if you have a regular electrician, plumber, HVAC technician, or another tradesman who knows your home inside and out, that’s a great resource to have. It means they’ll likely be able to work more efficiently than somebody who has never worked on your home before.
They offer you a significant discount on their work
If the subcontractor you want to hire is a family member or close friend, they may offer you a friend and family discount. Take advantage of that! Tradesmen – especially plumbers and electricians – are in high demand and tend to be very expensive. If you can get labor at a discounted rate, it will reduce your total remodel cost. As long as their quality of work is up to snuff, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to save a little extra money.
Their reputation is overwhelmingly positive
Reputation is one of the best ways to gauge whether a subcontractor will adhere to the quality standards of a company like Lamont Bros. If their work is highly sought after and the subcontractor is known among the community for producing excellent quality work, it’s safe to assume that they’ll do the same on your remodel.
When should you not hire your own subcontractor?
Other times, we see certain “red flags” which indicate a subcontractor might not be the best fit. Perhaps they produce excellent work, but they just aren’t the subcontractor for your design-build team to work with. Here are a few examples of what to watch out for.
They are unwilling to adhere to the design-build process
Sometimes, a subcontractor’s quality of work and price are both excellent, but they still aren’t the right fit. It might be that a subcontractor has a process of their own that is incompatible with the design-build approach. In any case, when someone is unwilling to follow the guidelines of the design-build process, that’s a non-starter. If they can’t work within the contract already in place, it’s not the right job for them.
Their work is significantly cheaper than other subcontractors
There’s a big difference between getting good work at a discounted price, as mentioned above, versus getting cheap work. The second one is often reflective of lower quality or cutting corners. So, if a subcontractor’s regular rates are notably lower than other comparable services, that’s a red flag. Chances are, there’s a reason their work is so cheap. It may be because they use lower-quality materials, hire unqualified workers, or aren’t paying for proper licensing and insurance. This isn’t always the case, but it is something to consider when you encounter surprisingly low rates from a subcontractor.
Another subcontractor is more qualified
As your design-build firm works with you to develop a production plan for your remodel, they may recommend using a specific subcontractor due to qualifications. This isn’t to say that your own contact isn’t capable of doing the job well. However, if your design-build team believes that a subcontractor from their network is better qualified to complete the work, you’d be wise to listen to them. Your team has your best interests in mind and cares about making sure your remodel is the best it can be.
Want to learn more about the design-build process?
After reading through the above information, you should now have a better understanding of when and when not to bring in your own subcontractors when working with a design-build firm. Do you want to dive deeper into the benefits of working with a design-build firm? If so, you can learn all about our design-build process right here on our website.
Are you ready to start designing your remodel? If so, don’t go at it alone. Our team of professional remodel designers will help guide you through the process of transforming your home. Click the button below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our team.