Developing guidelines for managing subcontractors within the constraints of cost and time

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Subcontractors have been found to execute significant portion of construction works, hence their contribution to the overall project cannot be under-estimated. A construction subcontractor is that organisation that enters into a contract with a client or a general contractor to execute some portions of work for the main contractor. The main contractor and the consultant’s ability to achieve a project within the stipulated time and within cost, is contingent largely on the subcontractor’s performance. In most construction projects, the onus lies on the main contractors to manage the project with respect to tasks including procurement of material and equipment, contract administration, project financing and progress monitoring. While subcontractor management has the opportunity to produce quality results, it also has the potential to disrupt a project if performed incorrectly. To overcome the challenges faced by Main Contractors in managing subcontractors, this research aimed to develop guidelines for use by main contractor in managing sub-contracts to help improve the performance of projects in terms of time and cost. In order to achieve the aim stated above, the study adopted a quantitative approach with the aid of structured survey questionnaire as the key tool for data collection, with a response rate of 67%. The data collected was processed using the statistical package for social science (SPSS) and later conveyed into the Microsoft Excel 2010 for analysis using descriptive statistical tools and measures namely tables; mean and standard deviation and Relative Importance Index (RII). The findings revealed that subcontracting is a common occurrence in building projects in Ghana and that significant portions (as much as 40 percent) of projects/works are outsourced to subcontractors. Again, the study identified topmost challenges of subcontract management as Non-Adherence to schedule, Site coordination challenges, Lack of proper communication, Lack of safety and Contractor's financial challenges. Furthermore, the showed that the factors affecting the cost and time performance of subcontractors include: Extent of subcontractor’s commitment to schedule, Practical and technical ability of Main Contractors, Project Manager’s recognition of the other construction activities related to subcontractors tasks, Efficiency of project staff, Clear understanding of the contract conditions, requirements and project objectives and Many project execution obstacles. Finally, study established that the cost and time related factors most affected by subcontractor management are: Waste rate of materials, Planned time for project construction, Time needed to implement variation orders and Time required in rectifying defects. The study therefore recommended that Project managers must not adopt ‘brick and mortar’ approach to subcontractor management; the management approach adopted must be tailored to suit the job at hand. Main contractors should also pay attention to helping build the technical capacity of subcontractors in relation to project planning, scope management and project cost and time management.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, College of Art and Built Environment in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy.
Cost constraint, Construction industry, Subcontract, Subcontractor, Subcontracting, Subcontract Management, Time, Time constraint, Cost