How to work with builders?


Usually work with PM companies and homeowners. Only worked as a sub for builders, what is usually required in terms of paperwork? All I have are customer agreements, Insurance, and an app i use for invoices and estimates.



It can vary depending on what you are doing and who you are doing it for. Any building for a government agency will have more paperwork, housing developments and stuff you can get by with less. If an architect is involved you will be responsible for your scope to the GC, including submittals, RFIs, Change Orders, Closeouts.

The basics are certificates of insurance, W9, and Worker’s Comp. For larger projects you will want a contract. Many GC contracts are very detrimental to the subs and some even include un-enforceable clauses. If you are unfamiliar with contracts it can be worth it to have a lawyer review the contract and ask them to explain what is wrong so you know what to look for in the future. If you can, use the AIA agreement between Sub-Contractor and Contractor as it is fair to both parties.

Government work may also require Prevailing Wage Compliance, Certified Pay-Roll, or Davis-Bacon Wages. They could also require E-Verify or participation in a drug free workplace program. Some GCs also want the sub to bond their own work on commercial projects but it isn’t common.

Some GCs have horrible reputations for how they treat their subs, if you are new to working for GCs ask around and find out who not to work for, or who to charge way more if you do want to risk it.



If you want to make money forget builders and go after high end residential work.



Don’t be afraid to go after high-end residential builders. They will require your own sheet metal shop, consistent and exceptional work. If you get in good with high-end builders that do really nice custom homes, you can punch your ticket to high-end retail work. (We don’t pursue production work due to low margins.)

People talk. Wealthy homeowners talk to their friends and to their home builders. They ask “who did your roof? I need someone I can trust.”

Referral work is the best work. I have guys that do re-roofs that came from being referred by high-end builders and their homeowners. The bids we send out are usually signed on the spot with little to no 2nd or 3rd bids and the higher end / high margin options are selected. We do no advertising and don’t want to. In 30 years I’ve never had a homeowner’s check bounce or had to pursue collections.

That is the business you want. It takes time and Herculean effort but it is worth it if you can make the play.

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Thank you, I couldn’t have said it better myself. We do a lot of new construction, mostly high end, and it is good money. You also have somewhere to go on a rainy day when you can’t tear off. When I started as a contractor 23 years ago I got in with a high end builder who had been around a long time. Some of my first jobs were shake tearoffs on big steep houses, resheathing and going back with tile or Presidential. Made a lot of money and got our name spread around with doctors, lawyers, etc. Unless you have work booked every single day there is no reason to turn your nose up at easy 40-50 square new jobs with a couple grand in profit. Plus the guys appreciate the clean piece work. Good builders will pay much more than market prices to know they can count on you for timely dryins and good work.



Didn’t clarify very well that the shake tear offs we got were houses he had built and gave strong referrals to his clients for us to do the reroof when it was time.