Subcontractors: Labour only or supply and fix?

When you are looking for a subcontractor, subbie, or whatever you choose to call the people you pay to work on your project they generally fall into two categories: Labour-ony and Supply and Fix.

Labour-only workers are normally hired as individuals or as small groups and generally carry our the early stage heavy labour jobs, such as brick laying, carpentry etc. Supply and fix subcontractors generally work on the later stages or the finished off projects, such as plumbing, glaziers, kitchen fitters etc. and generally supply the materials as well as the labour. There are advantages and disadvantages of both types of subcontractor, with labour-only workers being cheaper but less likely to work to a fixed budget, while supply and fix subcontractors are likely more expensive but will offer quotes and take some of the management problems out of the build.

For first time builders or people with little experience it is better to do down the supply and fix route because costing becomes much clearer. You know what the end cost will be up front. While simple maths may suggest that if you sourced all the materials yourself and hired labour-only workers you could do a cheaper job, but unfortunately things have a habit or going over budge. Coordinating can become complex, where you need to manage a kitchen fitter, a plumber, an electrician, and a tiler to get your kitchen finished to a high standard, and each of these trade people will need to come in and work at specific times during the job. If just one stage gets held up all others are out of sync, and you will end up fitting the bill.

This is the reason why getting a small business in to handle is all is advantageous and if you are not very experienced in managing these kinds of projects it will definitely save you time and headaches, and possibly money.

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