Tag Archives: subcontractor

Working With Your Barndominium Subs

Working With Your Barndominium Subs

If you get along well with everyone at all times, you may not need to read this article. But if you occasionally run into conflicts, read them carefully. Sometimes the fault may be yours.

At this point you’ve selected your subcontractors. You’ve checked them out and are satisfied they are honest, trustworthy, and experts in their fields.

Now let them work. Don’t try to supervise every blow of a hammer or placement of every stud. These guys are professionals and they know more about their trades than you do, and probably, if they came to you well recommended, they take pride in their work. Let them do it.

And, more emphatically, don’t try to tell your subcontractors their jobs just because you have read my articles. You’ll get good work out of your subs if they understand you realize they know their jobs, and you’re depending on them for good advice and quality work.

When a subcontractor’s work is completed, when work looks good, and when relevant inspections have checked out, make sure to pay contracted amounts promptly. A hearty thank you is also in order. Subcontractors who get treated right throughout your job and afterward will do a better job for you, and they’ll come back when you build your next barndominium. And chances are you will build another.

Paying Your Subcontractors

When you sign your contract with your erector, you will agree on a contract price for work as outlined. It is usually based on X number of dollars per square foot of heated area and X number of dollars per square foot of under roof, such as garages, porches, etc. Prices will vary with geographic area and job complexity.

Never pay a subcontractor for work not done, for incomplete work, or for an unsatisfactory job. Never pay a Subcontractor in advance. Paying in advance destroys incentive to get your job done ahead of other jobs. Paying in advance could result in a financial loss to you if a subcontractor is incapacitated in some manner. I don’t know anybody who gets paid in advance in any job field. If a subcontractor says he (or she) needs money to get materials, etc., find somebody else, or arrange to order and pay for materials yourself.

Work out a schedule of payment with your subs. Some subs may require draws, or partial payments, as work progresses. This should be discussed before work begins. Don’t be shy about it. They are accustomed to discussing such matters. It is all right to pay a draw, but never pay for more than work already done. For work expected to be completed within seven to 10 days of beginning, draws are typically unnecessary.

Plumbers and electricians usually get 60 percent of their total contract price when their rough-in work has been completed and inspected. Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning rough-in payments depend on installation of equipment such as furnaces. If payment is just for duct work and some low-voltage wiring, 20 percent of total should suffice. If a furnace had to be installed during rough-in, add another 10 percent. Work out payment arrangements with subs before they start. Subcontractors almost always would like to get more money up front than they have in the job. Be sure there is enough money left in the total bid to complete the job if one of your subs goes broke while you are still building. It has happened. You don’t want to be stuck paying more to complete his job. You’ll be covered better if you don’t overpay him on his rough-in.

I seem to be saying the only way you’ll get your subcontractors to complete your job is if you owe them money. In many cases this is true, but in others it is only partially true. Some subcontractors would finish regardless. Often an issue is subcontractors have more than one job going at one time, and your main objective is to get your job finished before one is started after yours.

Make sure building inspections by your county or city are completed and work is approved before you make any payments at any phase of construction, other than partial draws. This is your assurance your job has been done, and done properly.

Barndominium Subcontractor Bids

Barndominium construction bids are very important. Be diligent! For each contracting or subcontracting job for your barndominium, get bids or estimates from at least three contractors. Make sure bids are for similar work and be sure job specifications are identical. 

Never accept a bid “by the hour.” It doesn’t work. Remember Murphy’s Law; “If you want to see how long a job can take, pay someone by the hour.” You may pay a little more for a fixed price bid, but it’s worth it for peace of mind.

For example, if an excavator quotes $X per hour per man plus $X per hour per piece of equipment, insist on a firm total. If he (or she) won’t offer one, move on to the next excavator on your list.

People and companies you will be contacting know how to give estimates based on plans and are used to being asked for bids. Don’t worry, this is part of their job, whether you eventually hire them or not.

I take my building plans, drop them off or email them to a subcontractor or supplier, and say, “Give me a price on XXX. If you see anything else on these plans you can provide, give me a price on them too.” You might be pleasantly surprised – excavators often also do septic systems, driveways, backfill, rough and final grading, and a few others. They also usually know others who do foundations, concrete slabs, flat work, etc.

Your suppliers and subcontractors will determine the nearly exact number of items and square footage of materials needed based on your house plans. This is called a “take off.”

NOTE: GET ALL BIDS & ESTIMATES IN WRITING!

What is the difference between a bid and an estimate? A bid is a firm price to do a given scope of work, an estimate is “about” what it will cost. Obviously bids are what you are after.

Here is what you should expect when getting bids for various jobs.

Plumbing:

Plumbing bids should include all plumbing fixtures right down to toilet seats. They will not include accessories such as toilet paper holders. If colored fixtures are to be used, specify color and brand. Plumbing showrooms are your best bet for selection of these fixtures. Magazines and brochures don’t tell you enough and often don’t give prices. Most plumbing showrooms won’t tell you wholesale prices, but you’ll be paying list anyway, as plumbers make a profit on each fixture and it’s included in their bid. Don’t make an issue of this. This small profit in fixtures is one of a plumber’s sources of income and they earn it.

HVAC:

Your heat and air-conditioning contract should include vents (generally fan-powered) for  bathrooms, clothes dryer, stove, and range hood.

Electrical:

Electrical bids should include all switches, wiring, receptacles, circuit breakers and their respective panel boxes, a temporary service box and installation, saw service, wiring of all built-in appliances, and installation of ovens and ranges, furnaces, heaters, and air conditioners. Electricians in many areas do rough wiring for phones and the Internet (if you are not wireless).

Utilities must be connected. Exactly who is responsible for running water lines, sewer lines, and electrical hookups will vary with each subcontractor involved. Get responsibility pinned down when you are hiring subs, then follow through to be sure it is done properly.

All subcontractors should be responsible for obtaining needed building department inspections, but make sure they do (before paying them) or you will have to do it yourself. Lack of inspections can cause delays. Proceeding without getting inspections can be troublesome and expensive.

How to Find Barndominium Subcontractors

How to Find Barndominium Subcontractors

As a new barndominium General Contractor, you will need to line up subcontractors (subs) to do work you cannot or will not do. But, how does one go about finding these subs?

My first call is to my nearest Home Builders Association (find them here https://www.nahb.org/NAHB-Community/Directories/Local-Associations).
If unable to find a sufficient number (ideally three from each category), visit the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot and ask for names and numbers.

A good contractor is a working contractor, especially during a recession or other downturn in housing starts. This is not always true, but it is a pretty safe bet. Really good ones are sought after and always busy because they do good work and are reliable.

If you can’t find a contractor through your Home Builders Association or The Home Depot, next best place to look is on a job site. Find a house under construction. Stop and ask around. You can get names, prices, and references. This takes only a few minutes. It is done frequently and other general contractors shouldn’t mind. Chances are he or she probably won’t even be there. 

Often you will find the boss or owner of a subcontracting firm is on a site working. Get his number and arrange a meeting. Sometimes there are signs at job sites advertising different subs.

Only certain contractors are found on the internet. Most independent building erectors are not. You should however, be able to find heating and air-conditioning companies, plumbers, electricians, roofers, appliance retailers, and a few others.

Each subcontractor should carry insurance on his or her employees and should provide you with a certificate of insurance. Since this is your first experience and you won’t be familiar with prices in your area, get three or four bids, or quotes, from different subs before selecting one. Use a written contract with all subs.

Subcontractors and contractors may have their own contracts. At any rate, use one. Don’t trust anyone’s memory when it comes to dollars or who is to do what and when. Spell out your specifications thoroughly in your contract to be sure your bids are comparable and all subs are bidding on the exact same work.

Subcontractors for Your Barndominium

Welcome – you are maybe here because you have followed my biggest money saving tip in building a new barndominium, you are acting as your own General Contractor. If you are not yet convinced, please take a brief pause to jump back to: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/02/does-my-barndominium-need-a-turn-key-general-contractor/.

There are those who have time and patience (or skills) to learn how to DIY everything. Most do not fit into this category and are going to need some skilled subcontractors to do more (or all) challenging tasks.

A subcontractor is an individual contractor or a contracting firm who contracts with a General Contractor (now you as an owner builder), to perform part or all of a specific barndominium building job. In construction industry jargon, subcontractors are also called subs.

With you in control as general contractor,  you will build your new home by subcontracting with others for specific jobs.

You will pay for your project by setting a predetermined contract amount with each subcontractor.

You will have no hourly wage employees working for you, meaning you will avoid mountains of governmental red tape and taxes concerning employees.

Your contractors and subcontractors are not considered to be employees.

Some subcontractors, or contractors, need to be licensed for their trade. Check with your local Building Department to confirm these requirements. For those needing to be licensed, be sure to ask to see a copy of their contractor’s registration and verify it!

Below is a list of barndominium contractors, subcontractors and professional people you probably will be contracting with, listed generally in order of need (along with links to relevant articles, where appropriate).

Real estate agent (for land search) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/08/a-place-for-a-post-frame-barndominium/

Real estate attorney (many states require them for property closing)

Loan officer at banks, credit unions, or mortgage lenders https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/06/things-to-complete-before-going-to-a-barndominium-lender/

Barndominium designer http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q

Structural engineer (every Hansen Pole Building comes complete with fully engineered structural plans, so this aspect is covered for you)

Surveyor https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/pole-building-20/

Well driller (if no public water)

Grading and Excavation Contractor

Septic system installer

Soil Treatment Firm if in termite country https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/pre-construction-termite-treatment/

Your Hansen Pole Building kit (www.HansenPoleBuildings.com 1.866.200.9657)

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualBuilding Erector (Hansen Pole Buildings are designed for average physically capable persons who can and will read instructions to successfully construct their own beautiful buildings and many of our clients do DIY). Our buildings come with full 24” x 36” blueprints detailing location and attachment of every piece, a 500 page fully illustrated step-by-step installation manual, as well as unlimited technical support from people who have actually built buildings. For those without time or inclination, we have an extensive independent Builder Network covering the contiguous 48 states. We can assist you in getting erection labor pricing as well as introducing you to potential builders

Concrete contractor to pour concrete slab or concrete floors, as well as drives, walks and approaches.

Electrician

Plumber

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning)

Insulation installer

Drywall contractor

Painter

Finish carpenter (Installs kitchen and other built-in cabinets and trim around doors and windows)

Flooring, carpet, and countertop contractor

Tile contractor

Cleaning crew contractor

Landscape contractor

Cross off from this list all tasks and trades you are willing and able to do yourself. You are now journeying a step closer to your barndominium General Contracting success!

Avoiding Mechanic’s Liens

Avoiding Mechanic’s Liens From Post Frame Subcontractors and Suppliers

When I owned my first post frame building kit package supply company – M & W Building Supply, I made an error early on and extended credit to post frame building contractors. It didn’t take me long of getting burned to realize it was essential for me to send ‘Intent to Lien’ notices to property owners where these builders were making improvements. It was sad when I had to take one of these new building owners to court after they had paid their contractor in full – and he absconded with their money without paying folks like me. These poor folks ended up paying for their building twice, thanks to an unscrupulous builder.

From a Sioux Falls Argus Leader article August 16, 2019 by Danielle Ferguson:

“A Sioux Falls handyman has been criminally charged after multiple subcontractors say they weren’t paid for services they provided him. 

Daniel John Hagen was indicted by a Minnehaha County grand jury this week on three charges of misappropriation of funds by a contractor and grand theft. 

A Hartford couple contracted Hagen’s business, Dan the Handyman, over the summer months of 2018 to complete a pole barn at a price of about $25,300, according to an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant. The couple had given him three separate checks over three months, according to the affidavit. 

The couple found out that Hagen hadn’t been paying the subcontractors he hired to do the job, according to the affidavit. The subcontractors had put mechanical liens on the couple’s home. They reported it to law enforcement in November 2018. 

Law enforcement spoke with Hagen in January. When he took the job in Hartford, he owed money on other jobs, according to the affidavit, and had been using that money to pay for other jobs’ earlier fees. 

Hagen is involved in other civil suits and owes over $50,000 for other jobs done or jobs he was paid for and never completed in 2018, according to the affidavit.”

There are ways to prevent this from happening to you! 

Purchase a post frame building kit package direct from a supplier and pay them for it (only after you have thoroughly vetted the supplier: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/01/pole-building-suppliers/).

If a contractor is supplying any materials, make payments jointly to contractor and suppliers for amount of invoices.

Prior to making final payment require the contractor to provide lien releases from every supplier and laborer who either provided materials or labor for your building.

Require performance and payment bonds from the contractor, they are not expensive and they provide peace of mind https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/contractor-bonding/.