General Contractor vs. Sub-Contractor

By Published On: July 1, 20183 min readCategories: ContractorsTags: , ,

A while back I was called in to rescue a project that was off the rails. The GC had nothing but excuses why it was a month past their contracted completion date and finishing anytime soon was not on the horizon.

The Owner called me to come in and get the project back on track. When I arrived at the jobsite it was pretty easy to see what had and was happening. There was an enormous amount of subcontractor employees on site. If one did not know what to look for it would seem that there were plenty of techs on site for each trade to have this project humming along toward completion.

Look a little closer… four electricians on their cell phones in a huddle on the north side of the building. Drywall hangers and finishers sitting in the back of their trucks doing nothing. Way too many standing around not knowing what to do or doing anything simply because of lack of guidance. Other trades with only one person there working their guts out.

The first thing I get when I start introducing myself and letting everyone know I am the Owner’s Rep is, well, less than desirable than to even talk about. The superintendents of each trade just wanted to tell me that it’s all bad, the owner sucks, it’s this or it’s that.

I get nothing from anyone but lies. Lies about why they are so far behind, lies about what they are doing to correct the problems, lies about getting the work done by some sort of planning and schedule. This is not so uncommon in this day and age, unfortunately.

So, I already know what’s going on. The GC is not running the job, not controlling subs, so the subs are running the job, and very badly at that, I might add.

The business was due to have their grand opening in 19 days and they still had the entire interior to furnish as well as move in and commission about a million dollars’ worth of equipment.

Now I go talk to the GC’s folks. On this project they had a staff of people that would make your head spin. There was the Project Director for the southeast US on site every day. The project manager was on site every day. A Sr. Superintendent on site every day. There were 2 more field superintendents on site, during at least one shift, every single day. FIVE people! This job was only a four floor build-out of about 60,000 square feet.

At most, done correctly by the GC, it would have required one super and one assistant super and a project manager to run support from the home office. My suspicions were spot on… nobody OWNING, taking responsibility for and running the project.

Now, I lay it out on the line that the GC and the subs are going to be responsible for what I recommend the owner do to get this project straightened up, back on track and completed. This was not met with any real opposition because they all knew they failed miserably.

We brought in 70 people of various trades, ran the trades all ready contracted on the job, went to 24 hours a day production and expedited any material required to finish that was not yet on the jobsite.

A very well worked 8 days and nights later, we had passed every inspection and were granted the certificate of occupancy. The owner moved in and the grand opening happened right on schedule. And there is the difference between running a project… or not.


about Joel Anderson

Joel Anderson is the founder of Nuts and Bolts Contracting, LLC, and the company’s primary consultant.

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