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What’s Your New Subbie Not Telling You?

March 6, 2014

Peace of mind is everything in the construction supply chain, so audit every new sub-contractor before signing them on.


Help to Buy has sent house-sales soaring, and with old stock fast running out, house-builders are suddenly back in business after years in the doldrums.

However that upturn is putting unusual pressure on the builders themselves, and everyone in their supply chains who have been just ticking over for several years.

Suddenly, there are demands for more bricklayers, plasterers, electricians, double-glazing installers and other trades to get the new houses built -and  fast.

Companies which can’t gear up for the unexpected demand will miss out, so the search for new and capable people has become intense and sometimes even frantic.

It’s pretty simple to audit a new sub-contractor, at least for the quality of their work and their reliability.

However, both you – and your clients – also want to be reassured about the less visible stuff, notably the internal finances of the subbie’s business.

Cash-in-hand, or the presence of a decent car outside their house, doesn’t make them viable.

The most obvious solution is to make sure that you and all your sub-contractors are linked by software, which does lots of the clever stuff with minimal effort from you. A specialist construction industry program will audit such critical issues as:

  •  Ensuring your subbies are HMRC-compliant and paying their insurance
  • Making sure they aren’t overstretched in terms of finance or resources
  • Assessing their potential exposure to risk
  • Making sure they and their employees have the relevant CSCS card

If you’re in the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), the software also makes submitting monthly returns to HMRC so much easier. You can access CIS Online 24/7, so no more hours of form-filling every weekend.

It may be you don’t already insist on retention from your subbies, but it’s always best to do so, however long you’ve known them.

Make sure it’s the right software

If it isn’t customised, you’re paying for features you’ll never use, and training employees and new sub-contractors will be a lengthy and frustrating process.

And finally, if you do meet a new sub-contractor, whose work is great, who fits in with everyone else, and who has embraced the world of online construction systems, do take a moment to audit their software.

It might seem that they’ve got everything you require, but if your software doesn’t ‘talk’ to theirs, there’ll be major problems ahead.

Don’t take things for granted

As the cautionary tale here explains, even a firm using some of the biggest brands around may not be what it seems.

Things to consider.

  • Avoid risk. Give your new sub-contractor’s business a proper audit..
  • Don’t waste time and money. Use software designed for the construction sector.
  • Make sure your software works with your existing accounts package.

Auditing your subbies is just one aspect of being successful in construction. See our eGuide: How to improve your bid management with data

How to Improve Your Bid Management with Data

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