What Are the Qualities Should You Look for When Hiring a Sub Contractor?

In any successful construction project today, it’s usually the architect, the engineer and the construction firm that was hired to do the project that gets all the credit. However, there are people who are equally as important who tirelessly work behind the scenes to get the physical part of the work done, and are the lifeblood of any construction project – the subcontractors.

A subcontractor is a kind of contractor who specializes in one specific area, for example in carpentry, woodwork, welding etc. in construction. A skilled subcontractor or specialist is hired by the general contractor to do a specific job in a construction project.

Subcontractors are hired by general contractors for several reasons: they are experts in their field, they can help with a construction takeoff, they can increase productivity, cost-effective, and there is no long term commitment. Although there are lots of cases that what starts off as a short term commitment turns into a lifetime business relationship between the contractor and the sub-contractor.

Usually, when you say subcontractors, they mean people who work for the construction and the engineering sectors, but the term nowadays is expanding to the IT industry, as well as other forms of business that involves communication.

Types of Subcontractors

No matter in which area they specialize, according to the Joints Contract Tribunal (JCT), a body that makes standard forms of contracts for construction, and other documentation that are being used in the construction industry, there are three types of subcontractors:

  1. Domestic Sub-Contractor

These are sub-contractors that are selected and hired by the general contractor.

  1. Nominated Sub-Contractor

A nominated sub-contractor is chosen by the client to do part of the construction project. It is the client that does all the negotiations with the sub-contractor, and when everything is ironed out, he tells the general contractor to employ them to do that specific work in the project.

  1. Named Sub-Contractor

These are the sub-contractors who are chosen from a list that’s provided by the client and are hired by the general contractor. These subcontractors are usually part of the tender package ( or bid package) and are part of what they call a provisional sum.

When the general contractor wins the contract, he then puts out a bid for sub-contractors for specific jobs, and he gives out the job to the sub-contractor who wins the bid.

Qualities to Look for in a Sub-Contractor

Subcontractors can make or break a project since they are the ones who are on the ground putting the vision together, so if you are looking to hire a subcontractor, it’s important to choose the best one.

Whether you’re looking for a subcontractor to do specialized work in construction, or engineering or whatever field it is, here are some useful tips that you might want to take a gander at when choosing the best one.


Reputation takes a long time to build and takes only a moment to destroy. And in an industry like construction, reputation is everything. A good sub-contractor will generally have a good reputation within the industry.

How do you check someone’s reputation? Well, if you are checking the reputation of somebody who works in the AEC industry where everybody knows everybody, you usually you will know somebody who knows somebody who knows the subcontractor that you want to hire.

Licenses and Skills

Depending on which country you live in, sub-contractors depending on the area that they specialize need licenses. If this is the case, you want to make sure that the subcontractor has the required license and is up to date. If you live in the United States of America, you can go to the Construction Contractor Board and enter the contractor’s license number to double check.

In terms of sub-contractor skills, a license is a pretty good indicator that he/she has the required skills to get the job done properly. But in addition to these, you also want to see if your sub-contractor is skilled in technology since the construction industry is slowly making headway towards that area. If your sub-contractor knows how to use a construction project management software for subcontractors, it can be a good indicator that he/she is adaptable to new technology.


Integrity means being honest and having good moral standards. And, this is one quality that you should look for when you are hiring a sub-contractor. Since sub-contractors are trusted to do a specialized job that has the potential to either make a project a success or contribute to its failure, it’s important that you can trust your sub-contractor to do the job right.

How do you check someone’s integrity? Usually, you can do this by checking their reputation. A person with integrity will usually have a good reputation.

Good References

When you are looking to hire a sub-contractor, make sure that you ask for references and follow thru. Again, a good recommendation from previous employers is a good sign that you have found the best sub-contractor that can work for you.

Offers A Fair Price

There is a proverb that goes you pay bananas, you get monkeys which basically means that you get what you paid for. A sub-contractor that offers a low price might be attractive budget-wise, but you might not get the quality of work that you are looking for. A good sub-contractor knows his worth and the price of his service. This is not to say that you should go for somebody who has an expensive rate, but rather go for a sub-contractor that charges a fair price according to industry standards for their service.

Sub-contractors are one of the unsung heroes of any a construction project. And, if you hire the right ones, you can be sure that they can contribute to making any construction project a success.


Marketme is a leading small business to small business news, marketing advice and product review website. Supporting business across the UK with sponsored article submissions and promotions to a community of over 50,000 on Twitter.