5 Reasons Hiring the Right Subcontractor for Your Project is Critical

Selecting the right subcontractor for the project is critical because you, as the general contractor, construction manager or the building owner, are responsible for the work that the subcontractor does.  Each set of subcontractors you hire should be an expert in their trade and have enough qualified tradespeople on staff to complete the work.

With over 70 years of commercial painting and drywall experience and over 25,000 projects under our belt, we work with many well-established general contractors, construction managers, and building owners to help them complete even the most complex projects.  At Swanson & Youngdale we form partnerships with everyone we do business with to ensure our projects are completed safelyon time and on budget.

A subcontractor is a representative of your business, make sure they can professionally perform the scope of work needed.

Here are a few things you should look for when hiring a qualified subcontractor:


You should ask potential subcontractors about their safety plans and their process.  Examine their injury incident rate and EMR (Experience Modification Rate).
The EMR rate is a number used by insurance companies to gauge both cost of injuries and future changes in risk.  The lower the EMR, the lower their work compensation premiums will be.  An EMR of 1.0 is considered the industry average.

You will find subcontractors that requires strong safety practices within their organization and that have written safety policies in place will do their best to ensure that safety is their number one priority – they also provide:

  • Better quality
  • Increased productivity
  • Tradespeople who are trained and certified to complete the work


Every project is unique in they all have different timelines, scopes and may even require specialized applications of materials.   If a subcontractor doesn’t have the adequate manpower (staffing requirements) or they don’t have certified tradespeople on staff to perform the job it may jeopardize the entire project.

It only takes a few days of delays to have a ripple effect preventing other trades from being able to start or finish their work, putting the entire project’s schedule in danger of not being completed on time.

Choosing a subcontractor with the adequate manpower and qualified tradespeople on staff can:

  • Deliver more flexibility– When subcontractors have the manpower they can be more flexible when it comes to timelines and can have the people available when you need them.
  • Cover multiple projects with no problems – Having adequate manpower allows a subcontractor to work multiple projects at a time, which allows them to have tradespeople work your project when needed rather than waiting to finish another project before starting yours.
  • Have more skilled and knowledgeable tradespeople– If your project requires specialized applications of materials or trained people to operate equipment, hiring a subcontractor that has the skilled trades staff on board is key to the overall success of the project.


You should always compare estimates from several different subcontractors, but you shouldn’t always choose the one with the lowest price.

Subcontractors give their estimates based on the plans and specifications that you provide to them.  Providing a clear description of the scope of work to be completed and what materials and equipment that are needed to complete the work will allow the subcontractor to give you a fair estimate.

When comparing estimates if there is a significant price difference between them, make sure they are bidding the exact same scope of work and providing the same materials and equipment per the plans and specifications that you provided to them.

If there is a significant price difference, this is the time to ask questions as to why and don’t assume all estimates are created equal.  Perhaps the subcontractor overlooked having to use a specialized material, didn’t include proper equipment costs or didn’t have a full understanding of the scope of work that needed to be completed.

Some of those “little” details may not be so little and can have a significant impact on the cost and quality of the project.  Comparing estimates can also help clarify why a higher estimate may justify the price tag.


Having the proper equipment available to use on the job site is a viable piece of getting the job done correctly and safely.  If an Aerial Lift is needed to complete the project it’s important that your subcontractor can either rent or owns one.  Its also important they have employees on the job site who are trained and certified to operate the equipment.


You and the subcontractor will be business partners for the duration of the project and hopefully, many more to come, so choose one that not only fits your style but select one with a good reputation.

Look for subcontractors that have a reputation for:

  • Staffing qualified tradespeople. This can reduce the risk of rework, delays, quality and safety issues.
  • Longevity. If they have been in the business for a long time, there’s a reason.
  • Helping clients find cost-saving methods by choosing the right materials and equipment for the project.


With so many things to consider when choosing a subcontractor, make sure you do your research and identify which one will be the best fit for your project. After all, as the project manager or general contractor, it’s up to you to make sure the project is a success, and that means hiring the best subcontractors available.

At Swanson & Youngdale we have a team of commercial painting and drywall experts that work closely with many general contractors, building owners, and construction managers just like you.  To learn more about our painting and drywall services call us today!