Subcontractors: Heaven or Hell

By Steve Sheppherd


If there’s one thing I learned while remodeling and flipping 50 houses in South Bend, Indiana, it’s that subcontractors can make you or break you. I had my share of mistakes, but I did eventually learn. What I’d like to share with you in this Manager Report, are the most important points I gleaned from that experience. If you will listen, these things can save you thousands of dollars, and much indigestion.


Make sure that you have seen their work. If they were recommended, does the person giving the recommendation know what they’re talking about? You don’t want a novice to recommend a worker. If you hire them based on local advertising, you’ll need to check them out. Once, I had to redo a cement foundation because I listened to a “contractor’s” hot air instead of looking for myself.


I hired people that had day jobs. They worked at night and on the weekends, on my projects. They had a lot of experience, they did quality work and they were hungry. For example, my furnace guy was a schoolteacher. My tub refinisher was a night-time police officer. Our electrician still worked full-time as one, but he had nights and weekends open (and a new baby).



Be sure they understand they will get paid as soon as the job is over. This will move you to the top of their list, pronto. After a while, I was simply able to leave them a voice mail message tell them what I needed done, what the address was, and then left them a check. I was always first on the list and got top-quality work. It certainly eliminated my headaches.


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