Updated May 20th, 2019
To successfully complete a building construction project you need to know how to deal with contractors. The more effectively you can deal with contractors, the more you will be able to maintain the quality of the project and complete the project on due time.
As a member of the project management team, you’ll have many contractors in your project. Such as civil contractors, electrical contractors, plumbing contractors, paint contractors, and many others.
You may hire one contractor for all the tasks. This is called a general contractor. A general contractor may hire many other contractors to do different tasks. When a general contractor hires other contractors, they are called subcontractors.
If you don’t want to hire a general contractor, you can hire contractors for different tasks. In that case, you need to prepare contracts for individual contractors.
When you hire a general contractor you just need to make a contract with him. If he hires subcontractors, he will make contracts with them. You don’t need to make agreements with them.
When you hire contractors for individual tasks, you can deal with them individually. But when a general contractor hires subcontractors, you don’t need to deal with them directly. Because you didn’t make agreements with them. In that case, you need to deal with the general contractor for all the subcontractor related issues.
Which type of contractors you hire, no matter, your prime purpose should be completed your project on scheduled time and within the budget as well as maintain the quality of works. For fulfilling these purposes, you need to know how to deal with contractors effectively.
In this post, I’ll share some tips to successfully complete your construction project by dealing with contractors effectively.
12 Tips To Deal With Contractors Effectively
1. Do The Homework Before Hiring Contractors
You need to hire quality contractors. So that you can complete your project without much headache. If you can hire a quality contractor, you already did most of the jobs.
A quality contractor knows how to complete his job properly.
So, what you actually need to do to hire a quality contractor?
You need to do some home works before hiring a contractor. Such as –
Check How Many Project in His Hand: When you decide to hire a contractor, make a list of two-three contractors. Among them, check how many projects in their hands at present.
If a contractor has too many projects running, he will have a problem to focus on all the projects at a time and this may hamper the progress of your project.
So check who have less running projects in your list and try to hire him.
Make Sure The Contractor Has Enough Workers: It is a common issue in a building construction project that contractors aren’t providing enough workers to complete the task.
It makes sense. If a contractor doesn’t have available workers, how will he provide you!
So you need to make sure before hiring a contractor that he has enough workers to complete your project.
Check The Contractor’s Reputation In Previous Projects: Once you select a contractor to hire, make sure he has a good reputation in his previous projects.
You can do this easily to go to the previous projects he has completed.
You can also contact with the project in charge the contractor is working now.
Don’t Hire A Contractor With Low Rate: Take quotations from two-three contractors for the job. Once you have those quotations in your hand, you’ll know how much it will cost to complete your project.
Compare those quotations.
The point is you need to find out which contractor is really a professional. A professional contractor never gives you a high rate or a low rate.
Both a high rate and a low rate indicate that the contractor either doesn’t have experiences or he didn’t do his homework properly.
In both cases, the contractor isn’t a good choice for your project.
We have a common tendency to hire contractors with low rates. Don’t do this. You can’t complete your project.
. Do Most of The Job in The Contract
Once you’ve complete the contractor selection process, now it’s time to make an agreement with him. An agreement or a contract or a work order, whatever you call this, should include all the details of the task which the contractor needs to complete.
Most of the time I found that contractors make an excuse that this task isn’t in my contract. So you need to pay extra for this task.
But you know that the task is a part of another task which already included in the contract.
Let me give you an example. When you remove formwork of a concrete member, especially slab formwork, that left some dust on the floor.
Cleaning these dust is a part of slab concreting work. But the contractor can demand some extra money for cleaning them. Because he can make an excuse that cleaning isn’t included in the agreement. And you can’t do anything.
To solve this problem, you can include a clause in the contract that cleaning should be done properly by the contractor after every task and every day.
So you need to be careful making the agreement with the contractor and make sure you include everything in details in the agreement to successfully complete the project.
If you have experiences of making contracts, that’s good. If you don’t have, it is better to hire an experienced person to prepare the contract.
Related: Types of construction contracts
3. Make Sure The Contractor Will Have Profit
Contractors will complete your project if he has profit. So, it is your responsibility to make sure he will have profits. Otherwise, the contractor will leave the job and you’ll need to hire another contractor. It may delay your project.
4. Transfer Information Ahead Of Schedule
All construction projects need to have a schedule to complete the project successfully on due time. The contractor should know about the schedule that when should be done a particular task. Once he is familiar with the schedule, he’ll be able to plan accordingly.
So, as a project management team member, you need to make him understand the schedule properly that when you want a task to be completed and how.
I often get this complaint. When I ask a contractor that why the job hasn’t been done on the scheduled date, the excuse is, he didn’t know about the scheduled date for the job.
So, give contractors a clear instruction that when a specific task should be done. So that they can’t make an excuse that your team member didn’t do their job.
5. Give Instruction How You Want The Job
A construction task can be done in different ways. As workers of a contractor work in different projects, they know the various process of completing a task. But, what if you want the task to be done differently.
If you only ask them to do a task without giving any instruction, they may do it in their own way.
So, when you assign them a task, give clear instruction on how to do the task – how you want it.
6. Hold A Regular Meeting With Contractors
This is a very effective way to deal with contractors.
Holding a regular meeting with contractors will keep them focused on the job.
You may have some day to day information which the contractor need to know. Holding a regular meeting will keep them informed.
If you can hold a meeting daily that’s better. If you can’t, try to do weekly.
7. Don’t Tell Contractor That You Are In A Hurry
All construction professionals know that there is pressure to complete the project as early as possible.
But, this can be a boomerang for you.
When a contractor knows that you are in a hurry that is you’re in a tight schedule, he may want to take advantage of that.
I found, this kind of advantage results in low work quality. Contractors try to complete the job without maintaining quality.
They do this to keep a greater profit. And whenever you ask them the reason for the low quality work, they often make an excuse that you were in a hurry that’s why they couldn’t maintain the work quality.
So, never tell contractors that you are in a hurry. Instead, give them a work schedule.
8. Track Work Progress Based On The Schedule
From my personal experience, I can say that some contractors have a tendency to pile up tasks. In the beginning, they try to go slow.
There is a reason for that and it involves profit.
If a contractor completes the job as scheduled, you’ll have enough time to check the work quality as well as the workmanship of his workers.
If a contractor doesn’t complete task as per schedule, the tasks will be piled up and you’ll be pressurized at the end. Thus you have to complete more tasks within a short time and you won’t have much time to check the quality of works. And thus, the contractor can finish the task with unskilled workers and he’ll have more profit.
This tendency is the most dangerous thing in construction projects. You’ll face many problems because of this. Such as –
- Delivering so many materials within a short period of time will be difficult. And the contractor will blame you for not delivering materials on time.
- Ensuring materials quality will be hampered.
- Ensuring project quality will be difficult
- You’ll be pressurized
- Ultimately you’ll be responsible for all of this.
So, you have to make sure the progress of work as per schedule from the beginning.
9. Be Careful While A Contractor Hires Subcontractors
Contractors sometimes hire subcontractors to delegate tasks. This is done in two ways in a building construction project.
In one way, the contractor hires a subcontractor. In another way, the contractor gives a task as subcontract among his workers.
When a contractor hires a subcontractor from outside, he fixes a rate for the task with the subcontractor. The rate is definitely lower than the rate which you fixed with the contractor. Because the contractor will take profit from the task.
When a contractor hires a subcontractor with a lower rate, obviously the subcontractor will make a profit from the task. And the work quality may be lower.
If that happens, you have to sit with the contractor to improve the work quality. If the work quality isn’t improved, you have to ask the contractor not to employ subcontractors.
When a contractor gives a task subcontract to his workers, they normally try to finish the task within a short period of time. And it results in low quality work.
In this situation, you have to sit with the contractor to improve the work quality.
10. Motivate Workers
This is my personal strategy. To effectively deal with contractors, you need to deal with his workers too.
What I do is, every day I visit the workplace where the workers are working. I talk to them. I ask them if they’re having any problem to work. I brief them about the quality of work and how to do the work to maintain proper quality.
When you talk with workers you’ll find many problems which you didn’t know about before. Which really hamper the work progress and the work quality of the project.
These problems normally are –
- The contractor instructed them to finish the task within a time frame. So they don’t have much time to maintain the work quality.
- The contractor isn’t paying them properly. So, they are not so inspired to complete the task properly.
- The contractor isn’t providing them enough helpers to complete the task properly.
In this situation, you need to do some things. Such as, you need to motivate them in your own way. You need to discuss with the contractor about the problems asking him to solve the problem.
11. Never Take Any Favors From Contractors
If you want to deal with contractors effectively you shouldn’t take any favors from contractors. If you take, you will lose control over them.
12. Embrace The Truth That Some Contractor Is Difficult To Handle
Who works in public relation, they know that some people are really difficult to handle.
So, not all contractors are the same. Some contractors are really difficult to handle, no matter, Whatever techniques you apply.
In this situation, the one solution you’ve left. That is to terminate the contractor from your project. Take a strong stand on this.
Contractors aren’t your anti-party. They are your helping hands.
So, make good relationships with them, give them honor, and regularly talk with them.
The more you communicate with contractors effectively, the more successfully you can deal with contractors.
Share Your Experiences
Have you ever meet with a contractor difficult to deal with? Please share your experiences in the comment below…