Good Qualities of a Subcontractor

Construction projects take a lot of time and expertise, and sometimes these are too big to handle by a single commercial general contractor. This is when subcontracting a project’s portions is a necessary step to take. A subcontractor, or specialty contractor, is an individual or team hired through outsourcing to perform specific work or tasks, especially in larger building projects.

When your General Contractor hires subcontractors for your project, she/he puts your business’ reputation on the line. That’s why properly vetting subcontractors for a project and managing them effectively is so essential to a project’s success.

Subcontractors are important to any construction, but how do you select the best out of all those who offer the same services in the industry? Here are a few good qualities that will guide you in selecting the best subcontractor for your projects.

Ample Staffing Resource

For a subcontracting business to qualify, you must ensure that they are well-staffed and have enough people to do the job required of them. They should be able to provide pertinent information such as members along with their resume that highlights the scope of their experience. They must have a clear organizational chart that presents the contact persons or administrators who you can contact should a need to do so arises.

Ensuring that the subcontractor’s staff are reliable and qualified for the job is necessary, and you as an owner should check this before considering hiring them.

Reliable Safety Plan

A good subcontractor should have a reliable safety officer that mans their company’s safety during construction work. You can ask for the safety review of their past projects and gauge whether they have excellent safety performance. Check the credentials and work experience of this resource person, and inspect their safety plan (which they definitely should have). Their safety program should cover their people and have environmental checks in place to answer any spills and emergencies that may hurt nature.

Steady Financials

Although not required, there is always an advantage when subcontractors have financial capabilities that can ensure they would be able to perform the job portion and have ample resource materials to use. Most companies would hesitate to disclose their financials, but you can ask for validated proof (i.e., bank statements, bonding capabilities) of their financial capacity to determine whether a bidder has the competence to do the job.

Equipment Availability

Specialty contractors with their own set of equipment and tools are basically more ready to perform specialized tasks for your project. Check whether their proposal includes the list of equipment available at their disposal, which should also highlight a maintenance or repair plan for when they break down unexpectedly. In the contract, it must be stated that maintenance costs and fueling equipment are part of a subcontractor’s responsibility since the equipment is theirs.


The number of positive reviews and recommendations a subcontractor has will usually determine how qualified they are for the job. As in any service, getting references from credible commercial construction contractors looks good in a subcontractor’s resume. It is your responsibility as an owner to determine this; make a few calls and interviews from past clients about the subcontractor’s performance from start to finish of the past project.

Past Projects

A bidder must present a list of past projects with important details such as the scope, budget, schedule, work hours spent, and any special modifications that were done to complete the specific project. This is to review previous experiences and to get a general idea of how they perform in the workplace. Also, you can ask for details about any concurrent projects to determine whether this can potentially affect the resources needed for your own project.


Practically, it would be beneficial for your finances to award the lowest bidder, but this should not be the case. Unless you can be sure that they will provide quality work despite offering to do work for a lesser price, then do not use cost as your main determinant in selecting a subcontractor. Inspect the payment terms in their proposal. Choose a group that does not ask for a large down payment—this is usually a red flag in subcontracting. Arrange for a payment schedule that you both agree on and consider the amount of work and the quality of services and materials that they can offer.

Licenses, Contracts, and Insurance

Always check the legal documents of a subcontractor before going ahead and employing them. Construction companies can perform smoother and faster commercial projects once the legalities are in place. Ask the subcontractor for their licenses and sample contracts to review how well they consider the terms and delineate the scope of their work. They also must have updated licenses so as not to have any trouble with the law during or after the project is complete.

Your company may have your own insurance, but it would not hurt if the subcontractor has insurance of their own. This protects not only their staff but also you, by extension, since their work performance and safety are guarded against any untoward incidents. Being insured is guaranteeing subcontractor safety and shows that they care for their workforce.

To hire the best subcontractor that would fit well with the job you require of them, you can make a set of selection criteria having all the qualities you want in the specialty contractor. Commercial general contractors and subcontractors should work harmoniously to ensure that the building project can smoothly proceed and with little risk for all the parties involved.

ONYX Insurance Brokers want to make sure that your contractors and subcontractors work harmoniously. For your insurance needs, feel free to contact or email ONYX Insurance Brokers now!




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