Difficulties in Hiring Grade A Subcontractors in a Hot Market

Starting in 2012, the construction industry found itself in a booming market after many companies had to close up shop between 2008 and 2012. Although we found ourselves in a thriving market, that doesn’t mean this didn’t come with its own problems. The average construction cost of building a single family home is 13.7 percent higher now than in 2007, even as the total costs of building and selling a house—a figure that includes such items as land costs, financing and marketing—are up just 2.9 percent over the same period, according to a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders.

As general contractors and tenant improvement contractors in San Diego County, CA, the work performed on a project is ultimately our responsibility. This means that all worked that is subcontracted to a specialty trade has to meet our standards. So much rides on the reputation SUMAC Construction has cultivated over its 43 years in business that we cannot afford to give even one client less than what was promised.

How do we ensure a successful project in a market where subcontractors have more than enough work to go around? Let’s take a look.

Shortage of subcontractors in residential construction

All across the country you will notice a trend of general contractors voicing concerns with the shortage of subcontractors. This is a significant challenge to overcome because subcontractors are the backbone of this industry. Part of the problem is the fact that many young people have been deterred from entering into the construction industry. There was a big push in the last 20 years for high school grads to enroll in college. The acute decline of young people entering the trades has played a huge role in the shortage we are now experiencing.

On average, a general contractor will hire 15 to 20 subcontractors to work on a project. SUMAC Construction doesn’t hire just any subcontractor willing to take the job at a fair price—we hire artisans, experienced masters of their respected craft. With dwindling numbers in recent years, we have had to slowly expand our network of subcontractors while simultaneously strategizing on how to best navigate the future for our team.


SUMAC Construction focuses on solving this issue using two different strategies. We are always on the hunt to establish new partnerships with subcontractors at the top of their fields. We do this by:

  • Searching for subcontractors on platforms like Google, Angie’s List and Yelp
  • Networking with people in our industry
  • Maintaining good relations with our current roster of subcontractors
  • Driving by current projects under construction and asking for a meeting

Our second strategy involves a more personalized approach. We have an in-house team ranging from skilled laborers to master framers. The more employees we have that specialize in trades, the less we have to rely on subcontractors. This is why SUMAC Construction is willing to train and develop its employees to perform at our company standards.

Ultimately, we believe our commitment to hiring only the best subcontractors and skilled tradesmen truly sets us apart. When you’re in need of commercial tenant improvement contractors in San Diego County, CA, we hope you’ll reach out to SUMAC Construction to learn more about what we can do for you.

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