How much work does a design-build firm subcontract out?
You’ve hired a design-build firm for the convenience of keeping all your remodeling personnel under one contract. They have their own dedicated construction team working in your home to get the job done. Now, you may be wondering, “My remodel project requires a lot of specialized work. How much of it will my design-build team subcontract out?”
At Lamont Bros., our clients often ask us when and why we might hire out some of the remodel work to outside contractors. If we have our own construction team, do we do everything?
This is an excellent question and one we are happy to answer. In this article, you will learn about when and why design-build firms like Lamont Bros. hire subcontractors to assist their in-house build team in providing high-quality, cost-effective remodel services. Specifically, we will discuss:
- Reasons why a design-build firm may subcontract work
- What subcontractors you can expect to be part of your remodel
- How Lamont Bros. selects the subcontractors we work with
Why does a design-build firm subcontract work?
At Lamont Bros., we strive to provide our clients with the most convenient remodel process possible. One of the key elements in this process is our in-house construction team.
For a homeowner, a remodel is an experience. Like most homeowners, you probably want a contractor who makes that experience easy and convenient. Lamont Bros. accomplishes this by having a dedicated build team on-site during your remodel.
Our remodel teams are trained to perform 80% of the total work required for a remodel. The other 20% of work requires specific, niche skills that we choose to subcontract out in order to offer the highest possible quality on all areas of a remodel.
The law requires a licensed tradesman
We train our carpenters at Lamont Bros. in professional remodeling carpentry. This means that they are qualified to handle work such as framing, drywall, flooring, cabinet installation, and finish carpentry.
Sometimes, however, a remodel requires work that our carpenters are not legally licensed to perform. For example, the State of Oregon regulates who is allowed to work on electrical and plumbing systems. So if you want your remodel done by the book, you should only work with a firm that hires licensed tradesmen to do regulated work.
The task requires an extremely specialized skillset
Every construction technique requires years of experience and training in order to master. Though not legally regulated like some trades, these are often better left to specialists.
Hardwood flooring is a great example of a specialized trade. Applying finish to a hardwood floor is an extremely nuanced skill that requires time and practice to learn. That’s not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars worth of machinery required to sand and prep the floor beforehand.
As a design-build firm, we subcontract this kind of task so our carpenters can focus their skills on the 80% of the work we do in house.
The scale of work is large
Sometimes, a task requires no legal certification or specialized skillset but is large enough of a job to warrant calling in a subcontractor. Think about it like this – If you want to dig a small hole, you can use a shovel. If you want to dig a big hole, you’d use an excavator. The same type of job uses a different tool depending on its scale.
In much the same way, our build team will gladly put a new roof onto a small addition. However, if the entire house needs reroofing as part of a remodel, we’ll typically bring in a specialized roofing company to do that while our carpenters handle other tasks on the jobsite.
What kind of subcontractors might work on my remodel?
Since each remodel project is different, it’s impossible to say for sure which subcontractors will make a guest appearance in your home. Lamont Bros. maintains a network of subcontractors around the Portland area to provide our clients with access to top craftsmen and skilled laborers.
Electrical & plumbing
Additions, custom kitchens, and bathroom remodels almost always involve rearranging the plumbing and electrical utilities in a home. As discussed above, both of these must legally be handled by professionally licensed tradesmen.
Beyond the legal constraints, it really is just a good practice to have this kind of work done by professionals. Electrical failure is one of the top 4 causes of house fires, causing 24,000 fires between 2014 and 2016. Hiring a professional to do the licensed trade work helps to greatly mitigate the risk of damage to your home.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning don’t always require a specialized technician. For smaller projects with minimal HVAC needs, our carpenters can usually modify the system themselves. Moving a vent a few inches or even adding a short duct can often be done in-house.
Additions or full-home renovations are a different story. This requires specific calculations for vent sizes and airflow. To make sure you get the best possible HVAC system in your home, we’ll bring in a certified technician to design and install it.
When considering whether or not to call in a professional drywaller to help with a remodel, the main factor we consider is scope. If we just need to hang a few sheets of drywall and texture over it, that’s simple enough for our team.
If we’re building an addition, that means installing and texturing several hundred square feet of drywall. In that case, a professional drywaller can usually do a better job and do it faster.
Putting a new roof on an addition can be a big job that takes several days. One of the advantages of subcontracting out the roofing is that our build team can work at the same time as the roofers. This maximizes the remodel timeline’s efficiency while also ensuring that you get a top-quality roof.
Though it may not seem important initially, the scope of a paint job can greatly impact the overall timeline of a remodel. We often hire professional painters to do large-scale work on home exteriors and interiors.
Even coats and straight, clean paint lines take time and effort to achieve. While our in-house design-build teams can do great paintwork, we typically subcontract large paint jobs out. That way, our carpenters can focus on other tasks while the professional painters work.
In a custom kitchen, countertops have to be custom-cut. We don’t have a fabrication shop or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to prep countertops. So, hiring a specialized craftsman to measure, cut, and seal a countertop makes more sense.
As one of the most expensive items in a kitchen remodel, we want to ensure the quality of your countertops.
We care about your safety and the safety of our employees. Many homes built in the early 20th century contain materials such as lead or asbestos. Our teams are trained and certified to handle lead in certain applications. For serious instances of lead contamination or asbestos, we bring in a special hazmat team.
Misc. specialized skills
We don’t encounter it often, but sometimes homeowners want their remodel to feature elements that are far specialized beyond our carpenters’ expertise. When your remodel requires the rare skillset of a niche craftsman, that’s an issue we handle on a case-by-case basis.
If you want real ashlar masonry on an exterior wall, we’ll work with a stonemason who fits the bill. Your dream remodel features structural steel fabrication? Weird, but certainly doable.
A successful remodel requires you to have the right talent in the right place at the right time. At Lamont Bros., we coordinate with a handful of talented craftsmen whose skill and expertise will add substantial value to your remodel experience.
How does Lamont Bros. select subcontractors?
Any time Lamont Bros. brings a subcontractor into a remodel, it’s because they bring added value to your project. To ensure that they will provide you with the level of service you expect, there are a few factors we consider when vetting contractors.
When considering what external company to subcontract, our design-build team makes sure that the homeowner gets a reasonable price for their work. We don’t necessarily want the subcontractors we work with to be the cheapest option, but we do expect them to charge a fair rate that’s worth their work.
Our clients expect the quality of their remodel to reflect the price they pay for it. In turn, we expect our subcontractors to uphold our company’s commitment to quality work.
The decision to subcontract someone else to perform a job rather than assign it to our design-build team is not one we take lightly. Before bringing them in, we make sure that the subcontractor we hire is able to provide a level of quality beyond what our own team can provide.
We recognize that no homeowner wants their remodel to drag out any longer than it needs to. That’s why project timeline is a major factor we consider when hiring a subcontractor.
Subcontractors can help our team complete remodels faster. Specialized tradesmen can often provide more manpower to a given task, or can work in tandem with our own carpenters.
One of the things we look for in a subcontractor is consistency and commitment. Our remodel partners have proven they will show up to work when they say they will and stay until the job is done.
Having strangers in your house can be unnerving, even if they seem like decent people. Homeowners often choose to hire a design-build firm like ours because they want to be familiar with the personnel on-site. One of the commitments we make as a remodeler is that we will respect you and your home.
We hold our partners to that commitment, as well. Any time they are on the job site, the expectation is that they refrain from any profanity, lewdness, or tobacco use when they are on your property.
As a company built on family values, we find that the best subcontractors for us to work with are the ones who share in our culture of respect, decency, and honesty.
Want the Lamont Bros. Team on your next remodel?
Now that you know more about Lamont Bros.’ network of subcontractors, check out some of our team’s work! On our portfolio page, you can see the remodel magic that happens when our subcontractors and in-house design-build team work together.
If you’re in the market for a home remodel and are ready to take the next step by speaking with a design consultant, click the button below to schedule a video call.