Ideas on getting subs to finish work on time

11 Replies

HI guys,

My contractor tells me that he has issues getting his subs to come to the job site and finish what they are contracted to do. I gave him the idea of putting % rewards for finishing earlier than and % penalties for finishing later than the scheduled finish date in the contracts, but he says the subs don’t care! He says all they care about is receiving the down payment. I don’t know if I fully understand that reasoning  

Do you guys have some ideas on how to help my GC dealing with his subs? He’s a good guy and does really honest work for good price but this is too frustrating and probably already cost me 1 month delay per property on sub issues. 


Originally posted by @Allen Li :

HI guys,

My contractor tells me that he has issues getting his subs to come to the job site and finish what they are contracted to do. I gave him the idea of putting % rewards for finishing earlier than and % penalties for finishing later than the scheduled finish date in the contracts, but he says the subs don’t care! He says all they care about is receiving the down payment. I don’t know if I fully understand that reasoning  

Do you guys have some ideas on how to help my GC dealing with his subs? He’s a good guy and does really honest work for good price but this is too frustrating and probably already cost me 1 month delay per property on sub issues. 


You don't want to pay a deposit. Offer to pay as soon as they finish but never up front. That’s really the only way to keep them motivated. Also you could offer a bonus to get it done sooner but they will not agree to a penalty for a delay.

 

It is a big problem if all the subs care about is getting the down payment. That means your DP is too much and they have no intention to finish the project.

But your REAL problem is your GC. If he can't get subs to work and you are giving him ideas to do so, then he is failing at his basic job. You need a new GC, not new subs.

Originally posted by @Eric M. :

It is a big problem if all the subs care about is getting the down payment. That means your DP is too much and they have no intention to finish the project.

But your REAL problem is your GC. If he can't get subs to work and you are giving him ideas to do so, then he is failing at his basic job. You need a new GC, not new subs.

I will second that! The problem is the GC, with a new GC who has good subs, you won’t run into this problem. This is part of the value of a good GC, their sub base. 

I will third that about the down payment. Make it smaller, just enough to show good faith, pay more upon progress, and keep them wanting to work so they get paid more. Also find a better GC who has better, more reliable subs. Even if a new one is slightly more expensive. If he has subs who can get the job done quicker then it saves you in the long run.

Sigh, the problems keep piling on. His shop was recently broken into by a sub that felt he deserved to be paid but did not finish the work properly. Not all subs get down payments. He gives down payments for licensed subs for hvac, plumbing, electricals, and for big jobs like pouring concrete for garage floor and driveway, as examples.

I spoke to him a bit more and he says the hard part is getting these licensed subs that work in phases for big rehabs to come back promptly. Example: plumber did the rough in on a gutted basement a month ago and he was scheduled to come back now to finish the bathroom because it's pulled under his license, but during the month the plumber took other jobs so he won't be able to promptly finishing the basement until his current jobs are settled. It sounds like the more phases there are in a job that depend on the same sub, the harder it is to schedule the sub to come back promptly. 

I wonder if you guys would have different subs for different phases? For example you have a good plumber to do rough ins and another one to finish. Is that possible under the permit system?

@Allen Li  Lots of good info above. Regarding deposits... I try not to pay them as well, but sometimes it just has to be done. I negotiate a small deposit to show good faith as mentioned and a lot of times I will only pay it after a completed first day. That way I know the guys have mobilized and are on the job. 

I would not recommend switching subs for a different phase. Don't think I've ever seen that done unless someone gets fired. I see the reasoning for it and I've met too many plumbers that shoot themselves in the foot by messing up the trim. If your plumber is not performing, you probably have to fire him. There's a reason he is not giving your job priority. Already got his money. Someone else is paying him more. Poor business skills. Or just doesn't give a crap. Whatever the reason, there is no good reason. Need to leverage what you have to make him show up or cut him loose. What kind of time bust are we talking about here? When was the plumber supposed to show up and when is he scheduled to show up?

All these guys that work in multiple phases, typically do so for every job. This is not unique to your project. If they are not being scheduled correctly then that is on the GC. He needs to communicate when they need to show up and the urgency of the project. 

Lastly. There's an old saying in construction, quality, schedule and budget, pick two because you won't get all three. 

@Allen Li my opinion is, do not reward contractors. Figure the deadline you want and make it much shorter but seemingly able to be done on time if conditions are met. Then every day they are behind charge more or find another contractor and bill them. All of this will be per contract.

Hopefully this doesn't sound to abrasive. But I have ran into a few issues with contractors and or subs as well. I've realized that when I see this its time to get rid of them and move on. It cost you more time, stress and money trying to help correct your GC's business problems. Get another person that is reliable and as a friend outside of your project help correct or give feed back.