Originally Posted by GreenI.A.
I started my business as a sub, working for a number of landscapers and contractors I had built relationships with through my prior job as a landscape distributor. I was doing fert/pest, irrigation & lighting. I had planned to never be hired directly and only do sub work.
Now we are a landscape construction and do everything except for maintenance (adding that next season). We still do a lot of sub work and sub out a large amount of work ourselves. This season we were subbed for well over 250k and probably subbed out about 200k or so.
The standard with us is that we tack on 10-20% when work is subbed out, and know that contractors do the same to us. So if I get a large construction install and the deck contractor charges me 30k, I tack on an additional 3-6k for myself. But with referrals we do not pay a kickback or expect one in return, we simply refer the customer to the other contractor that we trust to do a good job. The reason to sub rather than refer is that you retain control over the products and design. Often times when the customer has direct contract with other contractors they may decide between them to make changes, these changes can have a negative impact on the overall design. For example we had one a few years ago that was a full back yard landscape install. The customer hired their own contractor to build the deck. We had good communication between us, but then between the two of them they decided to move the location of the deck stairs. This caused us to have to make large changes in the patio design and retaining wall, the changes to the wall were enough that we had to bring in an engineer and delayed the project 4 weeks as we had to go through all of the approval and permitting process again.
With sub contracting, changes can still be made but we must be a part of the project. The deck contractor signs a contract with us, not the homeowner. So if they make the HO's changes without our authorizations they are not building the deck per our contract. This makes sure we are always in the loop and can be sure all changes will still work with our intended design.
As a far as what we sub, the most common is fencing, decks, pools, concrete/asphalt, and large excavation that we can not do with our mini, or land clearing that that would take to long with just a couple of skids and minis
I just had what you mentioned and I highlighted above happen to me. It was a small job. I ripped out the existing plants, tilled and raked out the area. Due to overgrown shrubs that had been hanging out onto the lawn, the disturbed area was irregular in shape. I "sketched" in the shape of a proposed new bed with a shovel, with other portions to be seeded as lawn. A Master Gardener friend of mine had planted another bed for this customer with me and did a good job, I was really busy and just referred the customer to her. Well, I got there Friday to do the fall cleanup and couldn't believe what I saw. She had planted the entire area, but didn't define it at all. I would have put in an earthen edge and then mounded the bed a bit with the soil from edging. I would have done that while I was there, but I was waiting for the customer to approve the proposed shape. Now it's all flush with grade, it has poor visual appeal and there are plants right on the property line, which is a foot away from the side of the next door neighbor's garage. And it's heavily planted with spring bulbs, so now it's not really very practical to fix it. It had also been several weeks since I had done my portion of the work, so there were weeds and grass growing in the bed...she didn't do anything to remove them. I'm told that today she mulched the area with shredded leaves......I'm embarrassed to have had any part in it!!!!! The customer appears to be happy with it though....he went shopping for the plants with her and was there when she was doing her work.