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Working with General Contractors

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

By Doris Davis;

Being in a specialized trade whether it be a decorative artist, custom finisher, or mural artist there’s opportunities at every turn. Collaborating with General Contractors can open doors for you and your business. In my area of the Midwest, I find these arrangements can be with General Contractors, Interior Decorators and Architects. This position puts you in the Subcontractor category.

Our specialized trade is a niche market making contractors, decorators and architects seek us out for our talent and expertise which in the long run benefits both parties.

Construction projects (residential and commercial) have more moving parts than ever before due to supply chain disruptions as well as worker shortages making project management a challenge. Being a reliable subcontractor is a valuable position to be in if you’re reputable. It only takes a few general contractors to acknowledge your value and secure a position on their list of trades to contact when your specialty is required. Similar to working directly with a client it’s important to find and built relationships with the right contractors. Having a boss and working on a noisy, dirty job site has unique challenges. I personally thrive on the comradery with other trades and find it rewarding to work on a well-orchestrated project.

Good to know information… Get on board during the early planning stages of a project. Larger companies (mostly commercial) use a cloud-based software and send out “invitation to bid” request. Blueprints with square footage and description of project are found there. That process can be a bit overwhelming; sorting through every trade page; however, if you have a good relationship with the general contractor, they fill you in on your “slice of the project” before you even go to the cloud info. Once accepted as a subcontractor; Home and/or business owners, interior decorators and project management goes over expectations related to your specialty. Communication is key because details are huge and possibly larger than your normal projects. Early in the planning stage and throughout, make sure you voice any concerns ensuring your part is carried out as efficient as possible.

Project management establish workflow and collaboration among trades. Get to know and respect other trades which in turn increases their appreciation for what you bring to the table. Clear and open lines of communication is key. emphasizing what’s expected and how it contributes to the entire project.

Construction is still one of the least digitized sectors. However, you still need to utilize cell phone or tablet tech in order to have your backup information if the need is necessary. Using apps for time tracking and text for “in writing” communication and confirmation. Photo documentation is invaluable. I still carry a bullet journal pen with me wherever I go so any and all pertinent info gets jotted down. If the project is really large, I carry a 3-ring binder with all my finish recipes enclosed in plastic sleeves.

I enjoy the opportunity to work with general contractors, knowledgeable project managers and other trades. Our particular trade brings a lot of polish to a project and people love being a part of that! It might be an electrician that has installed temporary lighting for you, or carpenter that built your scaffolding; you can bet we all go home with a tiny story and a certain amount of pride being part of a big project that ultimately brings someone or many joy!!

Doris is owner of Davis Creative Painting, a painting company specializing in custom finishes, plaster textures, gilding, general painting, murals and fine art. A beautiful surface, color and texture make people feel confident in their surroundings. Some environments require subtle color and texture, while others demand whimsical or bold statement walls or furniture. From start to end Doris will work to provide the perfect interior finish. Her reputation is the result of more than 20 years of experience in the field. The opportunity to learn from some of the true masters of decorative artistry has been instrumental to her success. She continues to develop her skills and knowledge of historic and modern techniques and products. Doris is dedicated to making sure each finish is done with care and attention to detail. Her goal is to be a resource to clients, designers and builders that have an appreciation for craftsmanship, a desire for unique options and a demand for professionalism.

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