The worst thing you can do as a general contractor is hire a bad excavation subcontractor. Not only will they cost you money, but you will experience an truck load of stress. It’s not worth dealing with bad subcontractors for a bottom-of-the-barrel price tag. You can make up the difference in profits elsewhere in the project or on selling more projects to potential customers—especially if you find a solid set of subcontractors.
Nonetheless, some bad contractors are great at hiding their shortcomings, and you need to be prepared to identify the warning signs before you hire them. Claystone Construction has been helping build Colorado since 2003, and we have some experience with contractors, subcontractors, and hiring employees. In this post, we will share the common red flags to watch out for when hiring subcontractors for your land development projects.
Seven Subcontractor Warning Signs
As your excavation contractors serving Loveland, we understand how quickly a project can move. Once you get it started, it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill. But how do you keep your project moving without hindering its progress? The simple answer is to hire the right subcontractors, but it’s not always easy.
Warning Sign #1 – Bad Reviews
No single company can please all of their customers. It’s impossible. But if you find an excavation contractor with more one and two star reviews than four or five star reviews, take note. You may be walking into a bad partnership.
Warning Sign #2 – Unresponsive
If it was like pulling teeth to get a project bid from them, the partnership isn’t going to get better once you give them money. In fact, it will probably get worse. You want a contractor-subcontractor partnership to be candid and responsive with communication.
Warning Sign #3 – They Increase Expenditures
This is hard to tell prior to hiring them, but you can ask pointed questions to get information. A subcontractor that’s constantly increasing project expenditures due to either their lack of craftmanship or experience costs you money. Granted, one or two problems will arise per project, but you don’t want the problem to be your subcontractor spending your capital.
Warning Sign #4 – Little-To-No Sense Of Humor
You read that right. The worst business partnerships are ones that are taken too seriously. Yes, we understand that business is about making a profit, but it’s also about relationships. If you find a subcontractor who has no sense of humor prior to hiring, it’s a small red flag they don’t handle stress very well. Consider testing them or finding a different subcontractor.
Warning Sign #5 – Overpromise And Underdeliver
When you hear more promises than you see results, it’s time to run the other direction. You want to find someone who is candid and realistic. In fact, underpromise and overdeliver is what you should look for in a subcontractor. These are the real heros in the excavation and construction industry.
Warning Sign #6 – Outdated References
If you find a subcontractor with outdated or nonexistent references, you need to continue your search. What is outdated? If you’re generous, six months. You want a subcontractor that’s consistently working, a gap of a week or two at most between jobs.
Most excavation contractors will request an upfront deposit to get started on the project. This covers documents, paperwork, etc. But that deposit should not above industry standard. Subcontractors that ask for too much upfront tend to disappear once they have your money before the project starts.