Where Did They Go?
We’ve been having some trouble getting some of our smaller tasks done, because our usual sources of contract workers are no longer as reliable as they once were. One day this week, Carol spent a whole day trying to get the right person to fix an air conditioning issue on a project. The wrong person said they’d done it and wanted payment, but the unit actually wasn’t fixed. The person we’d asked to go to the location had never showed up. Another guy wasn’t answering the phone. And the one we like best had recently been yelled at by another contractor and was hesitant to go out. SIGH. (Details have been slightly changed here.)
One reason that we, along with others in this line of work, are finding qualified subcontractors hard to find is that a lot of people have headed over to east and south Texas to get good work repairing hurricane damage. We certainly don’t begrudge folks in great need from getting their houses repaired, but in the short run, we may expect to find people with certain skills (like drywall!) harder to find.
Many workers have also returned to their home countries, because of current attitudes in the US. I have to admit I didn’t expect to actually see this happen. I’ll have to hope replacement skilled workers soon become available to take their places.
Then there are the people we DO find. We need people with experience, skill, and the brains to figure out how to do a job right the first time. Quality and workmanship are important to us, because we want to be proud of the houses we sell or rent. Lately we’ve gotten some new contacts, but for one reason or another the majority just don’t match our criteria. (On the other hand, we’re really happy with the ones we found who do!)
The Bottom Line
So, what ARE our criteria for contractors and subcontractors? We already have a packet of information you can download from our Work with Hermits site. It probably needs some revision (we have lots more example projects, and a new office address), but it’s basically accurate. In the packet, we explain that these are the qualities we want the most in a general contractor:
We’re looking for professional contractors who have high standards, with a team of reliable subcontractors who do high-quality work and who have been in business for some time—with the track record and references to prove it. Here are some things we’re looking for in our contractors:
• Is fully licensed, with licenses up to date—same with their subcontractors.
• Is insured—including workers’ comp, liability—with a minimum limit of $1 million.
• Has been in business in the area for at least three years. • Has a consistent crew of subcontractors.
• Keeps worksites clean and maintained.
• Can provide a list of references, with current contact information.
• Belongs to the Better Business Bureau or one of the national associations of builders or carpenters.
• Provides written warrantees of 1 year or more for their work. • Is structured as a corporation or LLC. • Is a reputable company with no history of lawsuits.
• Has financial resources—able to float material costs until work is complete and ready for draw.
For subcontractors we hire directly, we need at least three referrals. The workers need to be able to fill out the W-9 form we need in order to report income to the IRS, as well. We trust them with our valuable projects, so we want them to be able to trust us with their information.
Can You Help?
Do you know a GC or subcontractor who does good work? Send them our way! Folks who do a good job for us find themselves with a lot of repeat business and we also put in a good word with our fellow rehabbers, too. Visit our site and download the packet, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a copy by return email. If you have any questions or want to talk about how we can work together, please phone 512-807-8777 and we’ll get you in touch with Carol, Lee or one of our project managers.