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If you’re working on a large construction project, or simply don’t have the expertise in-house, working with a subcontracting company is a great way to secure skilled labor. It can also be a good idea to use specialists for certain parts of a project that require specific skills because they are likely to be more effective than general construction employees.

It’s important to vet your subcontractors well, as you may end up paying for their potential default or mistakes. Here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting a subcontractor for your next project:

Make sure the subcontractor is a good match to your project.
Working with a subcontractor can only be useful if the company you choose is the right fit for the tasks you want to delegate. You have to closely inspect the requirements of the specific project at hand, so that you can identify the skills and equipment needed to execute its different parts.

Collaborating with a subcontracting company that doesn’t have the needed expertise and gear can lead to subpar quality of the work it completes be sure to start by creating a list of requirements for the necessary subcontractor.

Review the firm's previous work and references.
The selection of a subcontractor is similar to the way you’d hire an employee. If you want to be sure in their capacity and trustworthiness, you’d want to check their credentials. You can consider the relevance of their previous work experience, performance, quality of completed projects, work ethics and safety standards.

It’s also useful to check references and recommendations from previous construction partners. This is one way to ensure they are a good match for your project, so that you can avoid bond claims due to a subcontractor’s incompetence.

Make sure the company is properly licensed, bonded, and insured.
Subcontractors are often specialty contractors, and as such, they typically need a local or state license. During the licensing process, they also have to obtain relevant surety bonds and insurance, including general liability and worker’s compensation.

It’s imperative to check that the subcontractor you’re about to choose has all these credentials in place. It’s worth noting also that the bonding is an extra guarantee for the company’s financial and managerial stability. These factors can help you judge the level of trustworthiness of your future partner.

Check the subcontractor's staffing, resources, and equipment.
Review the number and capacity of the subcontractor's employee base. This is one of the factors that may affect their ability to deliver the work on time. Require a staffing plan which provides you with the persons in charge of your project, the senior leadership and the rest of the personnel who will be dedicated to the contract.

This can be a sign of the ability of the company to meet the project’s demands. Make sure also that the subcontractor's equipment and tools match the requirements in order to prevent delays due to insufficient or inappropriate gear.

Check safety records.
Don’t skip on consulting the safety performance of a subcontractor. Check their OSHA records, as well as data on time losses due to accidents. You can also review their worker’s compensation information to see their Experience Modification Rate (EMR). It will show you how much they’ve paid out as compensations in comparison with the industry standards.

Agree on the schedule.
A solid and experienced subcontractor will always provide a plan of how they’re going to handle the contracted work. This should be a detailed plan of action with the different stages and types of tasks that the selected company will go through. The schedule should also account for unforeseen situations that may arise during the execution of the subcontracting agreement.

Besides these main tips, you can consult an extensive scientific analysis of the factors that should influence your selection of a subcontractor.

What are your best practices when choosing a subcontractor? Please share your insights in the comments below.