How to Manage Sub-Contractors and Keep Costs Down

As we all know money isn’t just growing on trees in this current financial climate. So extending, repairing or renovating your place of residency can be quite a daunting and expensive process. Ill share with you how to manage projects so you pay the absolute minimum for contractors and materials.
Before you start any project around the home, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Be thorough and research what materials you will need to use, what council/government House Plan 4382 restrictions and codes you must abide to, whether the project has to be engineer designed and lastly the process of how the project is constructed.
There are many factors why project costs can be considerably higher if a contractor is used. They include, operating Nominated Subcontractor and overheads for the business, risk, insurances, licensing, tools and tool maintenance and the list goes on.
If you employ a primary contractor to carry out a project he/she will generally add 10-15 percent of every sub-contractors fee onto their quote. eg. You employ a builder to renovate your kitchen, he/she will get quotes from plumbers/ electricians/ cabinet makers etc. After the builder receives these quotes he/she will add 10-15% to this quote as a fee for managing the Builder will also add 10-15% to all materials he/she sources for the project also.
I am a qualified bricklayer so ill give you an example of how you would micro manage the construction of a retaining wall.
Firstly I would contact the local council and verify that I am permitted to build the retaining wall in the location I am planning to build. Then I would contact my local, or state building authority and verify if the retaining wall needs to be engineer designed. If so then I would contact several engineers or engineering companies and arrange quotes.
Lets just say the job requires an engineer designed construction.
Once an engineer has drawn up a detailed construction plan, you should write out a plan or schedule for the trades required in this construction process, and the materials and quantities required. This can be calculated off the plans supplied by the engineer. For this job it would be something like this:
Excavator operator-dig Footing and back fill the wall.
Steel fixers- To construct steel reinforcment cage.
Concretors- To pour and level concrete footing.
Brick or Blocklayer- Lay Bricks or Blocks and insert horizontal and verticle steel reinforcement.
Concrete pump (if building a block wall)- Fill wall.
Water proofer- Water proof the back of wall to prevent moisture coming through wall.
renderer or painter- If required.
Never just get one quote. You should aim to get 3 quotes from every trade as prices will vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Ask for quotes for labour only, and for labour and materials. Some sub-contractors will have trade accounts with suppliers and be able to get materials at a discounted rate.
If the subcontractor can get the materials cheaper than you, obviously sign them on a labour and materials contract but if not then just source materials yourself and sign them on a labour only contract.
By micro managing trades and sourcing trades and materials you can save in my opinion 0-30 % of what employing a primary contractor would cost you. This could be applied to many different projects inside and outside the home such as retaining walls, kitchen and bathroom renovations, pool installation, driveways, the list goes on.
The key with any project is communication. If you keep in contact with the trades on a regular basis the project will finish on schedule and with less hassles. There are always complications on construction projects so being present or contactable is very important so you can make decisions to enable the job to flow. Time is money.
Hopefully this has been of some help to all you DIYers. Don’t be afraid to get involved in projects. The more projects you manage the more confident and comfortable you will be with it.

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