Why Does Everyone Ask About Subs?
There has always been a perceived detriment associated with builders who use sub-contractors rather than their own company employees. The perception is that a salaried employee is more loyal; more reliable; more trustworthy. Many people believe this because one must assume the employee’s dedication and commitment to the organization that hired him.
Sub-Contractors, however, based upon preconceived notions, are hired guns with their own agenda and no more loyalty to the contractor than the commitment to collect a check at job’s end. This idea seems to sprout from the opposite perception from that of the employee. Because the sub is not employed directly, he does not possess the employee’s dedication and commitment.
Every Nightmare Story You have ever Heard is True!
Every nightmare story you have ever heard about sub-contractors is true. We have all heard the tales of the plumber who failed to glue a PVC joint causing a leak, then refused to return to repair it; the framing crew that failed to brace a roof properly, causing the project to fail the frame inspection; the concrete crew who left a dip in the slab which showed in the wall framing.
Why do General Contractors hire subs rather than employees? Is it an expense issue or is it a management issue? It is a bit of both. Hiring and retaining reliable employees is arduous. Presume the builder is able to retain qualified reliable help. The next step is the training and management of the help. If the G.C. (General Contractor) lacks the technical knowledge or the skill set to supervise and guide his skilled labor, he must hire a skilled manager. There is also a matter of capital investment in tools and equipment to be considered. Based upon these factors it can be argued that Subs are more economically feasible. But what of loyalty and commitment to the GC? The Sub is skilled, tooled, insured and experienced.
I believe in most cases the best artisan for a project is a sub-contractor. Simply, it is more cost and time effective to hire a properly tooled and skill-qualified sub. How do you avoid poor quality and shortcuts typical of many subcontractors? The General Contractor or a hired manager must know at least what the sub knows in order to manage his work.
Most subcontractors are unemployable. Either they can't show up on time, they don't deal well with authority or management, or they can't pass a background check. So, they go to work for the only person who will hire them - themselves.