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Exploratory Study of the Practice of Sub-Subcontracting in the Construction Industry

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1 EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE PRACTICE OF SUB-SUBCONTRACTING IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY By JOSHUA LEONARD MARKOWITZ A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 Joshua Leonard Markowitz

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3 To my Mom and Dad

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank those people who ha ve helped me to accomplish my goal of completing this thesis. I would like to tha nk my committee: Dr Jimmie Hinze, Dr. Leon Wetherington, and Dr. Kevin Gr osskopf. Dr. Hinze gave me guidance and feedback throughout the thesis process. He was extremely helpful and knowledgeable regarding the issues discussed in this study. I appreciate the support of my parents, Leonard and Connie Markowitz. They always encourage me to set goals and to never settle for mediocre results. I would also like to thank my fiance Julia Giblin for reviewing my th esis and guiding me through its completion.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........7 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .........8 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................10 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................12 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........12 Reasons for Subcontracting....................................................................................................12 Jobsite Relations.............................................................................................................. .......13 Productivity................................................................................................................... ..........15 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........16 3 METHODOLOGY.................................................................................................................18 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........18 Survey Questions Designed....................................................................................................18 Sample Selection............................................................................................................... .....20 Surveys Conducted.............................................................................................................. ...20 Initial Analysis Performed..................................................................................................... .21 4 RESULTS AND ANALYSIS.................................................................................................22 Survey Response Rate........................................................................................................... .22 Demographics................................................................................................................... ......22 General Contractor Survey Results........................................................................................23 Subcontractor Survey Results.................................................................................................27 5 CONCLUSIONS....................................................................................................................42 6 RECOMMENDATIONS........................................................................................................45 Recommendations for the Construction Industry...................................................................45 Recommendations for Future Research..................................................................................45 A GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND SUBCONTRACTOR SURVEYS.................................. 47 B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD SURVEY COVER LETTER.................................... 51

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6 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..52 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................53

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table Page 4-1 Annual revenue of respondent...........................................................................................31 4-2 Percent of constructi on work self performed.....................................................................31 4-3 Number of subcontractors involved on a typical construction project..............................31 4-4 Number of sub-subcontractors on a typical construction project......................................31 4-5 Percentage of work self performed....................................................................................31 4-6 Number of sub-subcontract ors on a construction project..................................................31

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8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1 Is sub-subcontracting more common on some projects than others..................................32 4-2 How sub-letting work is a ddressed in contra ct agreements...............................................32 4-3 Specialties most co mmonly sub-subcontracted.................................................................33 4-4 Quality and productiv ity of sub-subcontractor..................................................................33 4-5 Services sub-subcontra ctors provide most often................................................................34 4-6 More disputes arise on th e job with sub-subcontractors....................................................34 4-7 No significant problems with sub-subcontracted work.....................................................34 4-8 Impossible to determine if workers are employed by subs or sub-subs............................35 4-9 Firm needs better job of contro lling amount of work sub-subcontracted..........................35 4-10 Unique safety problems with work done by sub-subcontractor.........................................35 4-11 Reasons subcontractors sub-subcontract work..................................................................36 4-12 Sub-subcontracting more comm on on some projects than others.....................................36 4-13 Issue of sub-letting wo rk in contract agreements..............................................................37 4-14 Specialties most co mmonly sub-subcontracted.................................................................37 4-15 Quality and productiv ity of sub-subcontractor..................................................................38 4-16 Services sub-subcontra ctors provide most often................................................................38 4-17 More disputes on projects which utilize sub-subcontractors.............................................39 4-18 Subs have no problems with work they have sub-subcontracted......................................39 4-19 Subcontractor needs to monitor wo rking progress of sub-subcontractors.........................40 4-20 Unique safety problems................................................................................................... ..40 4-21 Reasons subcontractor sub-subcontract work....................................................................41

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9 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Build ing Construction EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE PRACTICE OF SUB-SUBCONTRACTING IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY By Joshua Markowitz May 2007 Chair: Jimmie Hinze Cochair: Leon Wetherington Major: Building Construction Contractors rely heavily upon specialty contr actor skills and expert ise to cut costs and increase efficiency on construction projects. Subcontractors are specia lty contractors that normally perform specific tasks that general cont ractors do not or cannot perform. When these tasks are reassigned by the subcontractor to a nother company, the lower tier agreements are called sub-subcontracts. Although, s ub-subcontracting is widely pr acticed, the issues concerning it have rarely been addressed. In order to expl ain the many unanswered questions linked to this topic, a survey was developed and distributed to general cont ractors and subcontractors that provides additional information pertaining to cont ractual issues, safety concerns, common trades of sub-subcontractors, quality, pr oductivity, and reasons fo r its existence. In conclusion, the data show an increase in the level of sub-subcontracting main ly due to a lack of specialized workers and an insufficient workforce availa ble to complete the tasks at hand.

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10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Subcontractors provide an extremely important service for the construction industry. On many building construction projects, it is common for 80% to 90% of the work to be performed by subcontractors (Hinze and Trace y 1994). Most general contractors sublet some or all of their work due to their inability to perform specializ ed tasks on a project, such as electric, plumbing and insulation. According to Arditi and Chotib hongs, everyday economic facts have confirmed the subcontracting system to be efficient and economical in the use of available resources (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005). The general contractor is not the sole proprietor of the subcontracting system. Subcontractors may also sublet a portion or all of their work to separate entities called subsubcontractors. These sub-subcontractors or lower-t ier subcontractors also play a necessary role in the construction process. The nature of the construction industry enco urages the concept of economic feasibility; therefore allowing the use of subcontractors increases quality and decreases cost. In the end, general contract ors and subcontractors are both c ontractually responsible for the parties to which they extend subcontract agreements. The topic of sub-subcontracting has received little prior resear ch attention as indicated by a limited number of articles on the subject. Subsubcontracting may bri ng up concerns about safety, productivity and quality as critical areas of interest to managers. Experience shows that sub-subcontracting was not practiced as extensively in the past as it is today. Twenty-five years ago sub-subcontracting was virt ually nonexistent. Today, comple x projects, the shortage of skilled labor and increasing profit margins are a ll reasons sub-subcontracting is on the rise. Larger more complex projects have created ne w specialty tasks that cannot be completed by the subcontractor; therefore specialized labor ma y need to be sub-subcontracted to ensure that

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11 the tasks are properly completed. A nother reason sub-subcontracting is on the rise is the desire for subcontractors to increase th eir profit. For example, a fram ing subcontractor may enter a subcontract for framing 3,000 square feet at eight dollars per s quare foot, but would like to increase and even guarantee the profit on the j ob. To accomplish this, the subcontractor will subsubcontract 100% of their work to another subcontractor for a lowe r price per square foot. This strategy in turn will yield the subcontractor the difference between the original subcontract and the new sub-subcontract, hence guara nteeing a profit at a low risk. Objective of study. The topic of sub-subcontracting has been investigated very little. The objective of this research is to explore the pr actice of sub-subcontracti ng. This study will provide general information about the practice of subsubcontracting in construction. The research systematically explores the current consensus on the process of contract ing out work from the perspective of both contractors a nd subcontractors. It attempts to shed new light on the topic, particularly relevant to the construction industr y. The research addresses each of the following characteristics: reasons for subcontracting, jobsite relations, and productivity.

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12 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Sub-subcontracting is a common practice in the construction industry, however little has been written on the subject. Because of the lack of prior research about sub-subcontracting, this paper reviews three major issues involving subc ontractors that have be en explored in the literature. Although not directly written about the topic of sub-subcont racting, these sources provide a foundation on which to un derstand the dynamics of the to pic. Each section addresses one of the following characteristics: reasons for subcontracting, jobsite relations, and productivity. A brief definition followed by past research findings on each characteristic is included in each section. Reasons for Subcontracting Subcontracting has been defined as the act of general contractors hiring specialty contractors to help them overcome problems on the jobsite. These problems include the need for special expertise, shortage in resources of the general contra ctor, and limitation in finances. General contractors may be able to complete specialty tasks on their own, but this may result in more risks and costlier fees. Subcontractors perfor m specialized duties, which enable them to cut costs and possess a higher level of effici ency (Elazouni and Metwally 2000). Most construction work that is subcontracted is sublet for economic reasons. Contractors cannot afford to keep an assortment of full-time skilled craftsmen on their payroll, nor can they feasibly own, operate, and maintain the variety of specialized equipment needed on projects. Subcontractors can make the cost of a project more reasonable by maintaining contracts with material suppliers, manufacturers, distribu tors, and manufacturers representatives.

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13 Subcontractors can also save ti me and money by subcontracting so me of their work, and they often have a series of sub-subcont ractors (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005). Jobsite Relations Subcontracting is used on nearly every construc tion project, but it is used more frequently on housing and building construction projects. On many projects, it is common for 80% to 90% of the work to be performed by subcontractors. The general contractor oversees the work performed by subcontractors on the project. The general contractor is perceived as providing guidance and coordination for the subcont ractor (Hinze and Tracey 1994). In 2005, Arditi and Chotibhongs conducted a surv ey study with general contractors and subcontractors to examine the prevailing issues in subcontracting. Two of the topics they examined were payment concerns and retainage withheld by the general contractor. These were identified as problem areas as both can advers ely impact the relationship between the general contactor and the subcontractor. The first problem they addressed was payment. The lack of timeliness of payments from the general contractor to the subcontractor could cause frictio n between the two parties. For instance, subcontractors may be required to abide by the pay-when-paid or pay-if-paid payment clauses. If neither clause is addressed in the contract, the subc ontractors may incur the risk of late payment, unfair compensation, or even nonpayment. The general contractor uses these strategies for insulating itself from any liabili ty to subcontractors at any time in the event of nonpayment from the owner (Arditi and Chotibghongs 2005). The data from the survey questions invol ving payment issues showed contradictory responses from subcontractors and general contractors. While la te payments are perceived by many subcontractors to be a major issue, few general contractors ackno wledge it as problem (Arditi and Chotibghongs 2005).

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14 The second parameter examined in Arditi and Chotibghongs study involved retainage withheld by the general contractor Retainage withheld by the general contractor is ostensibly used as a reserve found to compensate for faulty or missing work performed by the subcontractor. The survey data revealed that reta inge is almost always withheld by the general contractor. Forty-six percent of the subcontractors indicated th at retainage could produce cash flow problems, whereas 12% of gene ral contractors did not think so. The conclusion of the study by Arditi a nd Chotibghongs, exposed jobsite relationship difficulties experienced by subcontractors, and r ecommended solutions to mitigate the current dilemmas. These solutions includ ed requiring the general contract or to pay their subcontractor right after completion of the s ubcontracted work, and to elimin ate the imposition of automatic retainage on funds earned by subcontractors. A study by Proctor in 1996 attempted to pr ovide a solution for mitigating relationship issues among general contractors an d subcontractors. Proctor devel oped a system that applied the golden rule to the relationshi p between the general contract or and the subcontractor. The concept of the golden rule requires that each party treat the other, as he or she would want to be treated. This method utilizes the four Cs. The four Cs are as follows: consideration, communication, cooperation, and compensation. The f our Cs represent Proctors ideal jobsite relationship. Each factor could be utilized to solve a specific set of circumstances. Proctor concluded that consideration, communication, c ooperation, and compensation are only effective if the general contractor assu mes ultimate responsibility for the successful completion of the project. He also stated that disagreements and jobsite complica tions between general contractors and subcontractors would occur less frequently if the general contractor re cognized project errors sooner (Proctor 1996).

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15 The Contractor-Subcontractor Relationship: The Subcontractors View was written in 1994 by Hinze and Tracey. In relation to the prev ious reviews, Hinze and Tracey conducted an exploratory study to obtain general informa tion about the working relationships between subcontractors and general contractors. The study took place in the Puget Sound area and included 28 of the following subcont ractors: drywall-plaster, pa inting, mechanical, electrical, masonry, utility, flooring, and elevator. The study was conducted entirely through personal interviews from which the data were analy zed and recorded. The study concluded that subcontractors do not solely rely upon the gene ral contractor for gui dance and coordination. Subcontractors feel that the gene ral contractors are not concerned about the best in terests of the subcontractors. Hinze and Tracey also stated th at many subcontracts are awarded without any formal discussion. This process can lead incr eased levels of poor communication and future conflicts. The goal of this study was to improve the image of the industry and to lend a greater sense of pride to those involve d in the construction process (Hinze and Tracey 1994). Productivity Productivity is the amount of output produ ced relative to the amount of resources allocated for a project. In the construction indus try, subcontractors bear responsibility for much of the productivity levels on the construction site, particularly in areas such as labor relations, supervision, material delivery, pr efabrication, standardization, wo rker training, quality control, and equipment maintenance (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005). Much of the research on the study of subc ontractor productivity is lacking due to subcontractor absence from productivity resear ch studies (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005). In 1998, Ting-Ya Hsieh conducted a research study on th e impact of subcontracting productivity in Taiwan. The main purpose of his paper was to highlight the importance of subcontracting in construction and argue that s ubcontracting has been the missing element in construction

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16 productivity studies. In orde r to complete his explorati on, Hsieh send out 1,080 surveys to general contractors inquiring a bout the nature and extent of subcontracting in Taiwan. These surveys determined that subcontractor productivity is hindered by a series of barriers (1) market forces, (2) interfirm transacti on linkages, and (3) the Intra-fi rm economic objectives. Market forces are guided by competition. For example, in a highly competitive atmosphere, general contractors will lower their mark-up in order to s ecure a bid. This procedure innately intensifies the risks of construction, which get passed down to the subcontractors. Inter-firm transaction linkage refers to the contract ual and behavioral aspects of the contractor-subcontractor relationship. These aspects can cause great productivity loss. Fo r instance, due to various uncertainties in construction, the original co ntract agreements con cerning pricing, quantity, quality standards, and delivery schedule may need to be adjusted, causing disputes to arise and worsen the team spirit of the project. Under th e last barrier of Intrafirm economic objectives, the general contractor can exert effort to maximize profit in two directions (A) control subcontract costs, and (B) decrea se internal overhead. Both of these strategies will decrease worker productivity. For example, cutting over head costs will result in a reduction of supervision, creating a lack of quality control leading to frustration (Hsieh 1998). Hsiehs study concluded that in order for productivity levels to remain constant the general contractor must implement both contractual and be havioral strategies. He also affirmed that subcontractor involvement in productivity research has filled the gaps between existing studies, and opened new possibilities for future research (Hsieh 1998). Summary Subcontractors are a necessary resource in the construction industry. Th is literature review addressed the most recent ideas investigated involving subcontracting. Many issues in

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17 subcontracting have been studied except the topi c of sub-subcontracting. This study will explore the process and involvement of sub-subc ontractors in the construction industry.

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18 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Introduction The objective of this research was to explore the practice of multi-tier subcontracting in the construction industry and to provi de general information about th e practice of sub-subcontracting in construction. The research systematically expl ored the practice of contracting out work from the perspective of both contractors and subcont ractors. The study obtained information from general contractors and subcontractors as both ar e involved whenever sub-subcontracting occurs. The first step in this research was to c onduct a literature review. The literature search examined material related to previous studies conducted on subcontracting in the construction industry. The literature review provided sufficient information to develop a foundation for this research. This research was to obtain information from general contractors and subcontractors. To obtain this information, it was de cided that a mail-out survey a pproach was most appropriate. This would require the development of two survey s, namely one for general contractors and one for subcontractors. Both surveys were designed to measure the respondents experiences with sub-subcontracting. Survey Questions Designed The General Contractor Survey was designed to determine e ach the general contractors familiarity with sub-subcontracting. This survey entitled General Contractor Experience with Sub-Subcontractors is included as appendices in this thesis. The questionnaire included fillinthe-blank questions about the firms background, as well as multiple-choice questions concerning the general contractors perception of sub-subcontractor produ ctivity, quality and the frequency of use of sub-subcontractors. The survey also incorporated ques tions that pertained to

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19 the general contractors reaction to statements regarding the work ethic and supervision of subsubcontractors. The Subcontractor Survey was intended to capture inform ation about sub-subcontracting work from a subcontractors perspective. The survey was designed for subcontractors in the construction industry to gather in formation that could not be found in the literature review. This survey was entitled Subcontractor Experience w ith Sub-Subcontractors and can be found in the Appendix. The questionnaire for this su rvey was configured much like the General Contractor Survey but it had a greater percentage of questio ns pertaining to the firms background and specialty trade. The specific information on the firms specialty trade was asked to identify the type of work most commonly subl et in the construction industry. Both of the surveys contained thirteen questi ons. The first quarter of the survey dealt with questions pertaining to the companys backgrou nd and the business volume of the firm. The second quarter of the survey administered qu estions pertaining to contractual obligations concerning sub-subcontracting. The third quarter pertained to the firms reaction to statements made about sub-subcontractors. For example, re spondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed with specific statements. Some questions were to be answered by selecting from Likert-scale descriptions such as strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slightly disagree, disa gree or strongly disagr ee. The final part of the survey inquired about the firms opinions on sub-subcontractor safety problems and the primary reasons why their firm or other firms would sub-subcontract all or part of their work on a project. In addition to the surveys, an introductory letter was prepar ed that described the purpose of the study and the rights of respondents. Approval for the survey was obtained from the University of Florida Institutional Review Board.

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20 Sample Selection The sample selection of construction comp anies used in this study consisted of two groups. The first group surveyed consisted of 50 of the office and field level management personnel of Engineering News Records Top 2 00 Contracting Firms of 2006 and 50 of the top 301 Contracting Firms of 2006. This group re presented predominately commercial and industrial general contracting construction companies from across the United States. The grouping of the top 301400 was to provide a comp arison of the smaller firms ($121 million to $176 million) to the larger top 200 firms ($262 m illion to $14.6 billion). The contractors were selected by choosing every four th contractor on ENRs Top 200 and every other contractor on ENRs Top 301. A total of 100 questionnaires were sent to the randoml y-selected general contractors. The Second group surveyed consisted of the subcontractors listed on Engineering News Records Top 600 Specialty Contractors of 2006. A random sample was taken from this specialty contractor list. Examples of the participants included the following specialty trades: HVAC, sheet metal, electrical, painting, concrete, woodwork, excavation, steel erection, drywall, masonry, plumbing, utility, and asphalt and gradi ng. A total of 100 surveys were sent to this group. Surveys Conducted The first step used to collect the data include d developing a list of general contracting and subcontracting firms. This list included a phys ical address and a contac t name. The address and contact name for each company was located in th e issues of Engineering News Records Top 400 and 600 contractors. The second step performe d was to create mailing labels and to package the envelopes with the proper que stionnaire and IRB disclaimer. Th e third step performed was to

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21 contact the companies by mail with the surveys. The final procedure was to review and analyze the data that was obtained for the study of s ub-subcontracting in the construction industry. Initial Analysis Performed After the survey responses were received, both the General Contractor Survey and the Subcontractor Survey were analyzed in a simila r manner. The results of the General Contractor Survey and the Subcontractor Survey were analyzed by calculating the mean, median, and frequency of responses. Microsoft Excel 2003 was the software used to calculate the results.

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22 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND ANALYSIS Survey Response Rate A total of 200 surveys were distributed to the selected contractors a nd specialty contractors on November 11, 2006. These surveys consisted of two separate questionnaires. The General Contractor Survey was created for genera l contractors and the Subcontractor Survey for subcontractors. Each survey group was sent 100 questionnaires. Companies solicited for this survey were selected at random, producing a diverse sample of the construction industry. A total of 38 responses were received within a month of distribution. The rate of return was 23% for the General Contractor Survey and 15% for the Subcontractor Survey Demographics Respondents to the General Contractor Survey represented companies with annual construction volumes ranging from $140 million to $1.8 billion (Table 4-1). The median annual construction volume of those companies was $300 million. The titles/positions of respondents to the surveys included President, Senior Vice Pres ident, Project Manager, Project Engineer, and Chief Operating Officer. Companies represented by this survey included commercial general construction companies and industrial construc tion companies. Commercial and industrial companies were not specifically chosen, but are the types of firms listed on Engineering News Records Top 400 Contractors that were selected as survey recipients. Respondents to the Subcontractor Survey represented companies with annual construction volumes ranging from $14 million to $250 million (Table 4-1). Th e median annual construction volume of those companies was $16.8 million. The titles/positions of the respondents of the surveys included President, Senior Vice President, Project Manager, Proj ect Engineer, and Chief Operating Officer. Examples of th e participants involved in the Subcontractor Survey represent

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23 the following specialty trades: HVAC, sheet me tal, electrical, painting, concrete, woodwork, excavation, steel erection, drywa ll, masonry, plumbing, utility, and asphalt and grading. General Contractor Survey Results In order to understand the need for sub-subcontractors in the construction industry, respondents completing the survey were asked to an swer a series of questions pertaining to their experience with sub-subcontracting. To de termine background information, respondents completing the survey were asked what percen tage of their constr uction work was selfperformed. The median response was 12.5% with a maximum 90% and minimum of 0% (Table 4-2). To compare the number of subcontractor s and sub-subcontractors on construction projects the respondents were asked how many subcontr actors were involved on a typical project. The median response was 25 subcontractors with a mi nimum of 5 and a maximum of 60 (Table 4-3). The succeeding question asked how many sub-subcont ractors were involved on a typical project. The median response was 10 with a minimum of zero and a maximum of 60 (Table 4-4). When asked if sub-subcontracting was more common on some types of projects then others 70% of the respondents sa id No, while 30% of the res pondents said Yes (Figure 4-1). These respondents were asked to explain their reason for replying Yes. The responses included complex projects, larger projects, and multi-family buildings. The next question asked how the issue of sub-subcontracting was addressed in their subcontract agreements. The categories consiste d of four multiple-choice responses including: the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed, the s ubcontractors can sub-s ubcontract the work if approved by the general contract or, the subcontractors are forbi dden to sub-subcontract any of the work, and other. Fourteen percent of th e respondents stated th at the issue of subsubcontracting was not addressed contractua lly, 81% of the respondents stated that subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if a pproved by the general contractor, and 5% of the

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24 respondents stated that subcontract ors are forbidden to sub-subcont ract any of the work (Figure 4-2). An attempt was made to determine the speci alty trades that ar e most commonly subsubcontracted on a typical construc tion project. The trades repres ented by the sub-subcontracted work were as follows: insulation, excavation, caulking and sealants, fire-safing, drywall, framing, masonry, roofing, traffic control, low-voltage specialty systems, landscaping, and other. Figure 4-3 shows the distribution of the various trades selected; respondents were asked to check all that applied. Based on 96 responses, the mo st common sub-subcontracted trade, with 15 responses (16%), was low-voltage specialty syst ems. Low-voltage specialty systems include but are not limited to communication wi ring, fire alarm systems, security systems and A/C controls. Because of the highly specialized nature of the work, low-voltage specialty systems are associated with the most sub-subcontracted work. The next set of questions asked respondents to rate the quality and productivity of subsubcontractors. Each question asked the respondent s how they would generally rate the quality and productivity of sub-subcontracted work. The answer choices for both questions were as follows: better than subcontractors, about the sa me as subcontractors, and lower quality done by the sub-subcontractors. The response rates for bo th questions were corr elated. Every respondent who chose an answer describing th e quality of sub-subcontractors al so chose the same answer to describe their productivity (Figure 4-4). The resp onses most chosen for both questions show that the general contractors feel that quality and produ ctivity of the sub-subcontractors is the same as that of the subcontractors. Contractors were asked about the services sub-subcontractors provide most often. The choices listed were: design i nput, prefabrication of compone nts, material supply, and

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25 construction installation. Based on 29 responses, the results show that 19 of the respondents (66%) stated that most sub-subc ontractors provide construction inst allation services the most. Six of the ten responses were in the category mat erial supply, and the remaining 4 were divided among design input and prefabrica tion of components (Figure 4-5). Information was sought about the general contra ctors attitudes toward sub-subcontractors in a series of four statements portraying their firm. The respondents were asked to circle one response that most accurately represented thei r opinions. The possible answers were: strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slig htly disagree, disa gree, or strongly disagree. The first statement declared that more project disputes arose with sub-subcontractors. Figure 4-6 shows that most of the respondents had va ried opinions about this statement. There is an even distribution of agreement and disagreeme nt with a majority of the respondents neither agreeing nor disagreeing. The second statement declared that the firm had not had any significant problems with work that was sub-subcontracted. Based on 23 re sponses, Figure 4-7 shows that most general contractors have mixed opinions about havi ng any significant pr oblems concerning subsubcontractors. The third comment stated, it is often impossible for the firm to determine if workers on the jobsite are employed by subcontractors or sub-subcontractors. Based on the responses, Figure 4-8 shows that there are varied opinions a bout this issue, but a significant number of the respondents agreed that it is often impossible to determine if workers on the jobsite are employed by subcontractors or sub-subcontractors. The fourth statement declared that the firm (gen eral contractor) needed to do a better job of controlling the amount of work that was sub-su bcontracted. Based on th e responses, Figure 4-9

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26 shows that a most of the respondents surveyed felt that their firm did not need to do a better job of controlling the amount of work that was s ub-subcontracted. Nonethel ess, there were some general contractor respondents that stated that greater cont rol over sub-subcontracting was needed. The survey asked respondents to identify a ny unique safety problems encountered with work that was done by sub-subcontractors. Based on 23 responses, 61% of th e respondents stated that they had never encountered any safety issues with sub-subc ontractors (Figure 4-10). On the other hand, 39% of the respondents revealed that they have had safety problems with subsubcontractors. Respondents who answered, Y es were asked to explain their specific circumstances related to this response. Safety issues included the following: no safety program, lack of safety knowledge, workers not trained in safety, missed safety orientation sessions, language and communication difficulties and not comp lying with the general contractors safety policies. In order to determine why subcontractors su b-subcontract some or all of their work, general contractors were asked to indicate why they felt sub-s ubcontracting was done. They were given the following four choices: inability to pr ovide a sufficient work force to complete the work, work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, some work is too specialized for the firm, and other (see Figure 4-11). Based on 37 responses 17 of the respondent s (46%) felt that subcontractors sub-subcontract their work due to their inability to provide a sufficient work force. A total of 11 respondents (30%) believed that some work is too specialized for the subcontractor. Seven respondents (19%) felt that work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which guarantees a profit to the subcontractor Two of the respondents (5%) chose the choice other, but did not elaborate on the reason for their answer.

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27 Subcontractor Survey Results To understand the need for sub-subcontract ors in the construc tion industry, the subcontractor respondents were asked to answer a series of questions pertaining to their experience with sub-subcontrac ting. To obtain background information, respondents were asked about the amount of their contra cted construction work that wa s self-performed. The median response was 93% with a minimum 30% and maximu m of 100% (Table 4-5). To determine the prevalence of sub-subcontracting on constructio n projects, respondents were to estimate the number of sub-subcontractors i nvolved on a typical project. The median response was 1.5 with a minimum of zero and a maximum of 25 (Table 4-6). When asked if sub-subcontrac ting is more common on some t ypes of projects then others 53% of respondents said No while 47% respondents said Yes (Figure 4-12). The respondents replying yes were asked to explain their answers. The type s of projects involving more sub-subcontracting included hospitals and sc hools, surface prep jobs, projects involving fuel/oil, projects requiring a fire alarm, proj ects with roofing shingl es, and projects with automatic opening doors. Subcontractor respondents were asked how the issue sub-subcontracting was addressed in their subcontract agreements with the general contractor. The categorie s consisted of four multiple-choice responses including: the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed, the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the gene ral contractor, the subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontra ct any of the work, and other. Based on 15 responses, 13% of the respondents said that the issue of sub-subcontrac ting was not addressed, while 87% (13 of 15 respondents) of the res pondents said that subcontractors can subsubcontract the work if approved by th e general contractor (Figure 4-13).

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28 An attempt was made to determine the speci alty trades that ar e most commonly subsubcontracted on a typical construction pr oject. As previously noted in the General Contractor Survey results, the trades deemed to be the be st candidates were developed through research obtained in the review of the literature. The trades listed included the following: insulation, excavation, caulking & Sealants, fire-safing, drywa ll, framing, masonry, roofing, traffic control, low-voltage specialty systems, landscaping, and other. Figure 414 shows the distribution of the various trades selected; responde nts were asked to check all th at applied. Based on 28 responses, the most common answer with ten responses was other. The response other was listed with a blank space provided for explanation. The explan ations provided are as follows: sheet metal, ductwork, and test/balance. Th e second highest response rate was insulation with seven responses. The next set of questions on the survey related to an assessment of the quality and productivity of sub-subcontractors. Each que stion asked the respondents how they would generally rate the quality and productivity of s ub-subcontractors. The choices for both questions were as follows: good, improvement desired, not observed, and unsatisfactory. The responses for both of these questions were in terrelated. Every respondent who chose an answer describing the quality of sub-subcontractors also chose the same answer describing their productivity (see Figure 4-15). The response most often chosen on both questions indicated that the subcontractors felt that sub-subcontractor performance is good when rating quality and productivity. Subcontractors were asked which services sub-subcontractors pr ovide the most. The choices listed were: design i nput, prefabrication of compone nts, material supply, and construction installation. Based on 20 responses, the results show that 13 of the respondents (65%) believed that sub-subcontra ctors generally provide construc tion installation services. Four

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29 of the seven remaining responses were related to the category material supply, and four were divided among design input and prefabr ication of components (Figure 4-16). Information was sought about subcontractor attitudes toward sub-subcontractors. In response to specific comments, the respondents were asked to circle one response appropriately labeled strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slightly disagree, disagree, or strongly disagree. The first statement stated that more disputes arose on projects in which they used sub-subcontractors than on those that did not. Figure 4-17 shows that a majority of the respondents were unsure of the statement. The distribution of responses illustrates that many respondents disagree or cannot make a decision based on their firms history. The second statement asked respondents to i ndicate the level of agreement with the statement that no significant problems exist with work that their firm sub-subcontracted. Based on the responses, Figure 4-18 shows that more subcontractors have not faced any significant problems concerning sub-subcontract ors in the past, but some re spondents did disagree with the statement. The third statement declared that the firm needed to continuously monitor the working progress of sub-subcontractors to prevent poor craftsmanship and mistakes. Based on the responses, Figure 4-19 reveals that a majority of the respondents fe lt that their firm did indeed need to do a better job of monitoring the wo rking progress of sub-subcontractors. The survey asked respondents to identify a ny unique safety problems encountered with work that was done by sub-subcontractors (Fig ure 4-20). Based on 15 responses, 57% of the respondents stated that they had never encountered any safety i ssues with sub-subcontractors. However, 43% of the respondents revealed that they had safety problems with subsubcontractors. Respondents who answered, Y es were asked to explain their specific

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30 circumstance. Several safety issues were note d, including no safety program, OSHA is not effective, workers were not trai ned in safety, language barrier, no scaffold training, and ignoring subcontractor safety requirements. In order to determine why subcontractors su b-subcontract some or all of their work, subcontractors were asked to choose the primar y reasons from the following four choices: inability to provide a sufficient work force to co mplete the work, work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, some work is too specialized fo r the firm, and other (Figure 4-21). Based on 23 responses, six of the respondents (2 6%) felt that subcontractors subsubcontract their work due to their inability to provide a sufficient work force. A total of 14 respondents (61%) believed that some work was too specialized for the subcont ractor. Three respondents (13%) felt that work was sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which gua ranteed a profit to the subcontractor. None of the respondents chose the choice other.

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31 Table 4-1. Annual revenue of respondent Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum General Contractor 23 $497 million $300 million $140 million $1.8 billion Subcontractor 15 $69.4 million $16.8 million $14 million $250 million Table 4-2. Percent of constr uction work self performed Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum General Contractor 23 21% 12.5% 0% 90% Table 4-3. Number of subcontractors i nvolved on a typical construction project Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum General Contractor 23 25 25 5 60 Table 4-4. Number of sub-subcontract ors on a typical c onstruction project Type of Firm NMean Median Minimum Maximum General Contractor 23 14-2 10 0 60 Table 4-5. Percentage of work self performed Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum Subcontractor 15 84% 93% 30% 100% Table 4-6. Number of sub-subcont ractors on a cons truction project Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum Subcontractor 15 3.5 1.5 0 25

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32 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% NOYESPercentage of Responses Figure 4-1. Is sub-subcontracting more comm on on some projects than others (N = 23) 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 The issue of subsubcontracting is not addressed The subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the GC The subcontractors are forbidden to subsubcontract any of the work OtherNumber of Responses Figure 4-2. How sub-letting work is addressed in cont ract agreements (N = 22)

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33 0 5 10 15 20 Most Common Sub-subcontracted tasksNumber of Responses insulation excavation caulk&seal fire safing drywall framing masonry other roofing traffic control low voltage specialty system landscape Figure 4-3. Specialties most comm only sub-subcontracted (N = 96) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% better than subcontractorsabout the same as subcontractors lower quality done by subsubcontractorPercenatage of Responses Figure 4-4. Quality and productivity of sub-subcontractor (N = 23)

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34 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 design inputprefabrication of components material supplyconstruction installationNumber of Responses Figure 4-5. Services su b-subcontractors provide most often (N = 29) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 strongly agree agreeslightly agree neither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-6. More disputes arise on the job with sub-subcontractors (N = 23) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 strongly agree agreeslightly agree neither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-7. No significant problems with sub-subcont racted work (N = 23)

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35 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 strongly agree agreeslightly agree neither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-8. Impossible to determine if worker s are employed by subs or sub-subs (N = 23) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 strongly agree agreeslightly agreeneither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-9. Firm needs better job of controlli ng amount of work sub-subcontracted (N = 23) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% YESNOPercentage of Responses Figure 4-10. Unique safety problems with work done by sub-subcontractor (N = 23)

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36 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 inability to provide sufficient work force work is subsubcontracted at a fixed price some work is too specialized otherNumber of Responses Figure 4-11. Reasons subcontractor s sub-subcontract work (N = 37) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% NOYESPercentage of Responses Figure 4-12. Sub-subcontracting more comm on on some projects than others (N = 15)

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37 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% the issue of subsubcontracting is not addressed the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the general contractor the subcontractors are forbidden to subsubcontract any of the work otherPercentage of Responses Figure 4-13. Issue of su b-letting work in contract agreements (N = 15) 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Most Common Sub-Subcontracting TasksNumber of Respones insulation excavation caulk&seal fire safing other roofing traffic control low voltage specialty system Figure 4-14. Specialties most comm only sub-subcontracted (N = 28)

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38 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% GoodImprovement Desired Not ObservedUnsatisfactoryPercentage of Responses Figure 4-15. Quality and productivity of sub-subcontractor (N = 15) 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 design inputprefabrication of components material supplyconstruction installationNumber of Responses Figure 4-16. Services sub-subcontra ctors provide most often (N = 20)

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39 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 strongly agree agreeslightly agree neither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-17. More disputes on projects which utilize sub-subcontractors (N = 15) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 strongly agree agreeslightly agree neither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-18. Subs have no problems with wo rk they have sub-subcontracted (N = 15)

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40 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 strongly agree agreeslightly agree neither agree nor disagree slightly disagree disagreestrongly disagreeNumber of Responses Figure 4-19. Subcontractor need s to monitor working progress of sub-subcontractors (N =15) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% YESNOPercentage of Responses Figure 4-20. Unique safety problems (N = 15)

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41 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 inability to provide sufficient work force work is subsubcontracted at a fixed price some work is too specialized otherNumber of Responses Figure 4-21. Reasons subcontractor sub-subcontract work (N = 23)

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42 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS Survival in the construction industry is ba sed on the concept of economic feasibility. Subcontracting has allowed general c ontractors to sublet a portion or all of their work to decrease costs and increase quality. Due to the time c onstraints placed on c onstruction projects, subcontractors have adapted to subletting their work for a variety of reasons. In the past, general contractors self-performed a large portio n of their work on construction projects; today, it is not unusual for general cont ractors to subcontract 100% of their work on commercial or residential projects. Subcontra ctors have recently a dopted the process of subletting some or all of the work in the scope of the subcontract. General contractors have frequently noticed an equal number of s ubcontractors and sub-s ubcontractors on their construction projects. This shows that a large pe rcentage of the subcontracted work is being sublet. The data show that the r easons for this increase are due to the lack of specialized labor and an insufficient workforce to complete the tasks at hand. General contractors and subcontractors feel that these two areas are the most common motivations for subsubcontracting. Sub-subcontracting occurs on a variety of projec ts and at differing sc ales, but the research concludes that it takes place more frequently on complex and larger projects. General contractors and subcontractors feel that complex projects such as hospitals and multifamily structures involve more labor and specialty tasks. The results of this research suggest, if needed, both the general contractor and the subcontractor can pred ict the necessity for extra services. This means a shortage of labor may deem certain projects out of the question because subcontractors might have difficulty in locating th e specialty trades to issue sub-subcontract agreements.

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43 Subcontract agreements with the general c ontractor can limit the amount of work the subcontractor sublets. The stipulations locate d in these agreements that pertain to subsubcontracting overwhelmingly favo r the general contractor. In mo st cases the subcontractor is only allowed to subcontract their work with the permission of th e general contractor. The reason for this is because the general contractor retains sole responsibility for the actions of the subcontractor. Subcontractors have a contractual obligati on to the general cont ractor to complete their assigned portions of the work. Permission is required to sub-subcontract any work because the general contractor must take on increased ri sk if they choose to allow the use of a subsubcontractor. Quality and productivity levels of sub-subcontra ctors are key indicators to their success in the construction industry. The results for these tr aits were surprisingly positive. Representation of general contractors and subcontractors strong ly believed that the quality and productivity levels of sub-subcontractors are about the same or better than that of subcontractors. The data pertaining to quality and produc tivity support the inference ab out increased levels of subsubcontracting. This shows that general contract ors and subcontractors recognize the need for sub-subcontracting and most likely encourage the use of sub-subcontracti ng if it can increase productivity and quality of performa nce. The only disadvantage to this is that subcontractors feel that they need to continuously monitor the prog ress of their sub-subcontr actors to ensure proper performance. Worker supervision is a problem in every sector of empl oyment and can only be remedied with trust and respect. Problems on the jobsite with sub-subcontractors were resear ched in this study. The data showed that the general contract ors and the subcontractors did not encounter many disputes with sub-subcontractors. In fact, the general contract ors believed they were adequately managing the

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44 sub-subcontractors, thereby mitigating the chance for disputes before they occur. Yet, the general contractors did not deem every action of subsubcontracting as being praiseworthy. The main dilemma that perturbed the general contractor s was the impossibility of determining which workers were employed by subcontractors or by s ub-subcontractors. This catch-22 can disrupt the managing style of the general contractor. The most noteworthy results revealed pr oblems with sub-subcontractor safety. A substantial number of general cont ractors and subcontractors consider ed safety to be an issue of concern with sub-subcontracting. The prevailing i ssues with the practice of sub-subcontracting include no safety programs, language barriers, a nd ignoring jobsite safety requirements. These issues can be corrected if properly enforced. Based on the findings of this study, the main conclusion is that sub-subcontracting is steadily increasing. The research concludes that productivity, quali ty, specialized labor, a strong economy, and insufficient workforce are the t op factors driving the practice of subsubcontracting. Although, sub-subcontracting is risky for both the gene ral contractor and subcontractor, the services provide d are worthy of the final product.

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45 CHAPTER 6 RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendations for the Construction Industry General contractors need to recognize that th e practice of sub-subcont racting occurs often and is on the rise. Since a contract agreement is not established between the general contractor and the sub-subcontractor the general contra ctor must maintain good control of the subsubcontracting process. The genera l contractor must also monitor all subcontractors to make sure they are following the stipulati ons regarding sub-subcontracting in their subcontract agreements. Also, if the general contractor does not know whom to direct on the jobsite, effective management skills may be compromised. A simple solution can remedy the situation; all workers on the jobsite are required to display identification badges on th eir hard hats. This system would not only solve the problem, but also increase security within the premises. Recommendations for Future Research Additional research on this topic will greatly improve its relevanc y to the construction industry. The first recommendation is for a future study that targets small to mid range general contractors and subcontractors to gain an unders tanding of their perspective on the use of subsubcontracting. Previous studies have generally focused on large firms, but these studies excluded the residential and small commercia l sectors of the construction industry. The third recommendation is that the study be conducted on a larger scale through personal interviews and surveys. Personal interviews ca n lead to further explanations of the results obtained in this study. These interviews should ta ke place on several jobsit e locations with field personnel. Also, meticulous observation notes should be taken on the behavior of subsubcontractors to gain insight into the subcontractors dilemm a of having to continuously monitor their sub-subcontractors.

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46 The fourth recommendation is to have more in-d epth research on the type of work that is sub-subcontracted. This will provide a list of pre-de fined tasks that the general contractor can be aware of before subcontracting the work. By re -packaging work items, the general contractor might be able to subcontract directly with firm s that would other wise be sub-subcontractors. The last area of suggested investigation is the frequency of multi-t ier subcontracting in disaster areas. The purpose of such a study would be to examine the magnitude of subsubcontracting in areas that have been devastat ed by natural disasters. These areas are more prone to less stringent buildi ng code enforcement and have be en noted to be built by shoddy multi-tier contractors. This study would compare the issues discussed in this study with the prevailing issues found in disaster areas.

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47 APPENDIX A GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND SUBCONTRACTOR SURVEYS Contractor Survey Questionnaire General Contractor Experi ence with Sub-Subcontractors The following questions are to identify the general contractors familiarity with subsubcontractors based on your experience. Please check the appropriate option(s) and give brief answers. The questionnaire can be finished within five minutes. Thank you for your participation. 1. In the past fiscal year, what was the approxi mate amount of the total revenues of your firm? $__________ million 2. What percent of the cons truction work is self performed by your firm? _____% 3. How many subcontractors are involv ed on a typical project? _____ subs 4. Is sub-subcontracting more common on some types of projects than others? YES NO If yes, explain:____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 5. How many sub-subcontractors are i nvolved with a typical project? _____ 6. How is the issue of sub-letting work a ddressed in your subcontract agreements? the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the wo rk if approved by the general contractor the subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of the work other: ______________________________________________________________________ 7. What specialty(s) are most commonly sub-subcontracted on your projects? (please check all that apply) insulation fire-safing framing roofing low-voltage specialty systems excavation drywall masonry traffic control landscaping caulking &sealants other________________________ 8. How would you generally rate the quali ty of work of sub-subcontractors? better than subcontractors about the same as subcontract ors (no apparent difference) lower quality done by sub-subcontractor 9. How would you generally rate the productivity of work perf ormed by the sub-subcontractor? better than subcontractors about the same as subcontract ors (no apparent difference) lower productivity done by sub-subcontractor

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48 10. Which of the four services do sub-subcontractors provide most? design input material supply prefabrication of components construction installation 11. To what extent do you consider the following statements to be true? More disputes arise on the j ob with sub-subcontractors. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor Disagree We have not had any significant problems w ith work that was sub-subcontracted. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor Disagree It is often impossible to determine if work ers are employed by subs or sub-subs. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor Disagree Our firm needs to do a better job of c ontrolling the amount of work that is subsubcontracted. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor disagree 12. Have you encountered any unique safety probl ems associated with work that was done by sub-subcontractors? YES NO If yes, explain:___________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 13. In your opinion, what are the primary reasons th at subcontractors will sub-subcontract some or all of their work to other firms? inability to provide sufficient work force to complete work work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which guarantees a profit to the subcontractor some work is too specialized for the firm other: ____________________________________________________________________ Subcontractor Survey Questionnaire

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49 Subcontractor Experience with Sub-Subcontractors The following questions are to identify the subc ontractors familiarity with sub-subcontractors based on your experience. Please check the app ropriate option(s) and give brief answers. The questionnaire can be finished within five minutes. Thank you for your participation. 1. In the past fiscal year, what was the approxi mate amount of the total revenues of your firm? $__________ million 2. What is your firms speci alty trade? __________________________________ 3. What percent of the cons truction work is self performed by your firm? _____% 4. How many sub-subcontracts are awarde d by your firm on a typical project? _____ 5. Is sub-subcontracting more common on some types of projects than others? YES NO If yes, explain:____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 6. How is the issue of sub-letting work addres sed in the subcontract agreements your firm executes with general contractors? the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the wo rk if approved by the general contractor the subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of the work other: ______________________________________________________________________ 7. What types of construction sp ecialty(s) does your firm mo st commonly sub-subcontract on your projects? (please check all that apply) insulation fire-safing framing roofing low-voltage specialty systems excavation drywall masonry traffic control landscaping caulking &sealants other________________________ 8. How would you generally rate the quali ty of work of sub-subcontractors? good improvement desired not observed unsatisfactory 9. How would you generally rate the productivity of work perf ormed by the sub-subcontractor? good improvement desired not observed unsatisfactory 10. Which of the four services do sub-subcont ractors provide most commonly for your firm?

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50 design input material supply prefabrication of components construction installation 11. To what extent do you consider the following statements to be true? More disputes arise on projects in which we utilize sub-subcontractors than on projects that we do not. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor Disagree We have not had any significant problems with work that our firm sub-subcontracted. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor Disagree Our firm needs to continuously monitor th e working progress of sub-subcontractors to prevent poor craftsmanship and mistakes. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Sligh tly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree nor disagree 12. Have you encountered any unique safety probl ems associated with work that was done by sub-subcontractors? YES NO If yes, explain:___________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 13. In your opinion, what are the primary reasons that your firm (the subcontractor) will subsubcontract some or all of its work to other firms? inability to provide sufficient work force to complete work work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which guarantees a profit to the subcontractor some work is too specialized for the firm other: ____________________________________________________________________

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51 APPENDIX B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BO ARD SURVEY COVER LETTER November 11, 2006 To: Potential Study Participants Subject: Practice of Sub-Subcontracting We, the M. E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Co nstruction at the Univer sity of Florida, are conducting a study in the United St ates on the practice of sub-s ubcontracting. The focus of the study is to examine the practice of sub-subcontr acting and the effects it has on the construction industry. The study will be conducted through a survey in which a variety of questions will be asked about your background and your experien ce with sub-subcontra cting in the constr uction industry. There are no risks associated with participating in this study and the survey can be completed in about five minutes. A copy of the results su mmary will be provided to any interested participants. Naturally, you are as ked to answer only those questi ons that you feel comfortable in answering. Your individual responses will be kept strictly confidentia l to the extent provided by law. Research data will be summarized so that th e identity of individual participants will be concealed. You have my sincere thanks fo r participating in this valuable study. Sincerely, Joshua Markowitz Building Construction Graduate Student Phone: (954) 609-0249 Fax: (352) 392-4537 Email: humes1@ufl.edu hinze@ufl.edu P.S. For information about par ticipant rights, please contac t the University of Florida Institutional Review Board at ( 352) 392-0433 or Email: IRB2@ufl.edu.

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52 LIST OF REFERENCES Arditi, D., and Chotibhongs, R. (2005) "Issues in subcontracting practice." J. Constr. Eng. and Manage., 131(8), 866. Elazouni, A. M., and Metwally, F.G. ( 2000). "D-SUB: Decision support system for subcontracting construction works." J. Constr. Eng. and Manage., 126(3), 191. Hsieh, Ting-Ya. (1998). "Impact of subcontractin g on site sroductivity: Lessons learned in Taiwan." J. Constr. Eng. and Manage., 124(2), 91. Hinze, Jimmie, and Andrew Tracey. (1994) "The contractor-subcontract or relationship: The subcontractors view." J. Constr. Eng. and Manage., 120(2), 274. Proctor, Joseph R. (1996). "Golden rule of c ontractor-subcontractor relations." Pract. Periodical on Struct. Des. and Constr ., 1(1), 12.

PAGE 53

53 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Joshua Markowitz received his Bachelor of Scie nce in political science from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, in April 2005. After graduation, he enro lled in the graduate program in the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Build ing Construction at the Un iversity of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, to pursue a Mast er of Science in building construction. Joshua was born in Miami, Florida. Upon gra duation, he will move to Columbus, Ohio to work as a Project Engineer. He hopes to become very successful and someday contribute to the development of collegiate construction education.


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Title: Exploratory Study of the Practice of Sub-Subcontracting in the Construction Industry
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Holding Location: University of Florida
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EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE PRACTICE OF SUB-SUBCONTRACTING IN THE
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY



















By

JOSHUA LEONARD MARKOWITZ


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007

































2007 Joshua Leonard Markowitz



































To my Mom and Dad









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank those people who have helped me to accomplish my goal of

completing this thesis. I would like to thank my committee: Dr Jimmie Hinze, Dr. Leon

Wetherington, and Dr. Kevin Grosskopf. Dr. Hinze gave me guidance and feedback throughout

the thesis process. He was extremely helpful and knowledgeable regarding the issues discussed

in this study.

I appreciate the support of my parents, Leonard and Connie Markowitz. They always

encourage me to set goals and to never settle for mediocre results. I would also like to thank my

fiancee Julia Giblin for reviewing my thesis and guiding me through its completion.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A CK N O W LED G M EN T S ................................................................. ........... ............. .....

L IST O F T A B L E S .............................................................................................

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. ..... ..... ................. .8

A B S T R A C T ......... ....................... .................. .......................... ................ .. 9

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... .............................. ............................. 10

2 L ITE R A TU R E R E V IE W ........................................................................ .. ....................... 12

Introduction ................... .......................................................... ................. 12
R seasons for Subcontracting ...................................................................... ........................ 12
Jo b site R e latio n s .....................................................................................................................1 3
P ro du ctiv ity ................... ...................1...................5..........
S u m m ary ................... ...................1...................6..........

3 METHODOLOGY .............. ............................ ................... .......... 18

Introduction ................................................................................. 18
Survey Q questions D designed ......................................................................... .......... ........... 18
S am ple S election ................................................................2 0
Surveys Conducted ....................................................... ..... ...... ........ ........ 20
Initial A analysis Perform ed .................. ........................................... .. ..........21

4 RESULTS AND ANALY SIS......................................................................................... 22

Survey R response R ate ............................................................ .. ...... ... .. ...... ...... 22
D em graphics ........................................................................................................................22
G general C contractor Survey R results ............................................................. .....................23
Subcontractor Survey R esults.......................................................................... ..............27

5 C O N C L U SIO N S ................. ......... ................................ .......... ........ ..... .... ...... .. 42

6 R E C O M M EN D A TIO N S............................................................................... ... ............45

Recommendations for the Construction Industry ........................................................45
R ecom m endations for Future R esearch...................................................................... ......45

A GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND SUBCONTRACTOR SURVEYS.................................47

B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD SURVEY COVER LETTER............................... 51









L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S .............................................................................. ...........................52

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H .............................................................................. .....................53





















































6









LIST OF TABLES


Table Page

4-1 A annual revenue of respondent ......... ................................ .................................. 31

4-2 Percent of construction work self performed.............................. ...............31

4-3 Number of subcontractors involved on a typical construction project............. ..............31

4-4 Number of sub-subcontractors on a typical construction project..............................31

4-5 Percentage of work self performed ...................................................................31

4-6 Number of sub-subcontractors on a construction project ............................................31









LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

4-1 Is sub-subcontracting more common on some projects than others .............. ...............32

4-2 How sub-letting work is addressed in contract agreements.............................................32

4-3 Specialties most commonly sub-subcontracted ...................................... ............... 33

4-4 Quality and productivity of sub-subcontractor .............................................................33

4-5 Services sub-subcontractors provide most often................................... ............... 34

4-6 More disputes arise on the job with sub-subcontractors..................................................34

4-7 No significant problems with sub-subcontracted work ............................................. 34

4-8 Impossible to determine if workers are employed by subs or sub-subs ............................35

4-9 Firm needs better job of controlling amount of work sub-subcontracted..........................35

4-10 Unique safety problems with work done by sub-subcontractor............... ... ...............35

4-11 Reasons subcontractors sub-subcontract work ...................................... ............... 36

4-12 Sub-subcontracting more common on some projects than others ...............................36

4-13 Issue of sub-letting work in contract agreements ................................... .................37

4-14 Specialties most commonly sub-subcontracted ...................................... ............... 37

4-15 Quality and productivity of sub-subcontractor .............................................................38

4-16 Services sub-subcontractors provide most often................................... ............... 38

4-17 More disputes on projects which utilize sub-subcontractors............................................39

4-18 Subs have no problems with work they have sub-subcontracted ....................................39

4-19 Subcontractor needs to monitor working progress of sub-subcontractors......................40

4-20 U unique safety problem s .......................................................................... .....................40

4-21 Reasons subcontractor sub-subcontract work...............................................................41









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Building Construction

EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE PRACTICE OF SUB-SUBCONTRACTING IN THE
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

By

Joshua Markowitz

May 2007

Chair: Jimmie Hinze
Cochair: Leon Wetherington
Major: Building Construction

Contractors rely heavily upon specialty contractor skills and expertise to cut costs and

increase efficiency on construction projects. Subcontractors are specialty contractors that

normally perform specific tasks that general contractors do not or cannot perform. When these

tasks are reassigned by the subcontractor to another company, the lower tier agreements are

called sub-subcontracts. Although, sub-subcontracting is widely practiced, the issues concerning

it have rarely been addressed. In order to explain the many unanswered questions linked to this

topic, a survey was developed and distributed to general contractors and subcontractors that

provides additional information pertaining to contractual issues, safety concerns, common trades

of sub-subcontractors, quality, productivity, and reasons for its existence. In conclusion, the data

show an increase in the level of sub-subcontracting mainly due to a lack of specialized workers

and an insufficient workforce available to complete the tasks at hand.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Subcontractors provide an extremely important service for the construction industry. On

many building construction projects, it is common for 80% to 90% of the work to be performed

by subcontractors (Hinze and Tracey 1994). Most general contractors sublet some or all of their

work due to their inability to perform specialized tasks on a project, such as electric, plumbing

and insulation. According to Arditi and Chotibhongs, "everyday economic facts have confirmed

the subcontracting system to be efficient and economical in the use of available resources"

(Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005).

The general contractor is not the sole proprietor of the subcontracting system.

Subcontractors may also sublet a portion or all of their work to separate entities called sub-

subcontractors. These sub-subcontractors or lower-tier subcontractors also play a necessary role

in the construction process. The nature of the construction industry encourages the concept of

economic feasibility; therefore allowing the use of subcontractors increases quality and decreases

cost. In the end, general contractors and subcontractors are both contractually responsible for the

parties to which they extend subcontract agreements.

The topic of sub-subcontracting has received little prior research attention as indicated by a

limited number of articles on the subject. Sub-subcontracting may bring up concerns about

safety, productivity and quality as critical areas of interest to managers. Experience shows that

sub-subcontracting was not practiced as extensively in the past as it is today. Twenty-five years

ago sub-subcontracting was virtually nonexistent. Today, complex projects, the shortage of

skilled labor and increasing profit margins are all reasons sub-subcontracting is on the rise.

Larger more complex projects have created new specialty tasks that cannot be completed

by the subcontractor; therefore specialized labor may need to be sub-subcontracted to ensure that









the tasks are properly completed. Another reason sub-subcontracting is on the rise is the desire

for subcontractors to increase their profit. For example, a framing subcontractor may enter a

subcontract for framing 3,000 square feet at eight dollars per square foot, but would like to

increase and even guarantee the profit on the job. To accomplish this, the subcontractor will sub-

subcontract 100% of their work to another subcontractor for a lower price per square foot. This

strategy in turn will yield the subcontractor the difference between the original subcontract and

the new sub-subcontract, hence guaranteeing a profit at a low risk.

Objective of study. The topic of sub-subcontracting has been investigated very little. The

objective of this research is to explore the practice of sub-subcontracting. This study will provide

general information about the practice of sub-subcontracting in construction. The research

systematically explores the current consensus on the process of contracting out work from the

perspective of both contractors and subcontractors. It attempts to shed new light on the topic,

particularly relevant to the construction industry. The research addresses each of the following

characteristics: reasonsfor i\n mihl ui tin/i,. jobsite relations, and productivity.









CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

Sub-subcontracting is a common practice in the construction industry, however little has

been written on the subject. Because of the lack of prior research about sub-subcontracting, this

paper reviews three major issues involving subcontractors that have been explored in the

literature. Although not directly written about the topic of sub-subcontracting, these sources

provide a foundation on which to understand the dynamics of the topic. Each section addresses

one of the following characteristics: reasonsfor \nt ml I' i tintg. jobsite relations, and

productivity. A brief definition followed by past research findings on each characteristic is

included in each section.

Reasons for Subcontracting

Subcontracting has been defined as the act of general contractors hiring specialty

contractors to help them overcome problems on the jobsite. These problems include the need for

special expertise, shortage in resources of the general contractor, and limitation in finances.

General contractors may be able to complete specialty tasks on their own, but this may result in

more risks and costlier fees. Subcontractors perform specialized duties, which enable them to cut

costs and possess a higher level of efficiency (Elazouni and Metwally 2000).

Most construction work that is subcontracted is sublet for economic reasons. Contractors

cannot afford to keep an assortment of full-time skilled craftsmen on their payroll, nor can they

feasibly own, operate, and maintain the variety of specialized equipment needed on projects.

Subcontractors can make the cost of a project more reasonable by maintaining contracts with

material suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and manufacturer's representatives.









Subcontractors can also save time and money by subcontracting some of their work, and they

often have a series of sub-subcontractors (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005).

Jobsite Relations

Subcontracting is used on nearly every construction project, but it is used more frequently

on housing and building construction projects. On many projects, it is common for 80% to 90%

of the work to be performed by subcontractors. The general contractor oversees the work

performed by subcontractors on the project. The general contractor is perceived as providing

guidance and coordination for the subcontractor (Hinze and Tracey 1994).

In 2005, Arditi and Chotibhongs conducted a survey study with general contractors and

subcontractors to examine the prevailing issues in subcontracting. Two of the topics they

examined were payment concerns and retainage withheld by the general contractor. These were

identified as problem areas as both can adversely impact the relationship between the general

contactor and the subcontractor.

The first problem they addressed was payment. The lack of timeliness of payments from

the general contractor to the subcontractor could cause friction between the two parties. For

instance, subcontractors may be required to abide by the "pay-when-paid" or "pay-if-paid"

payment clauses. If neither clause is addressed in the contract, the subcontractors may incur the

risk of late payment, unfair compensation, or even nonpayment. "The general contractor uses

these strategies for insulating itself from any liability to subcontractors at any time in the event of

nonpayment from the owner" (Arditi and Chotibghongs 2005).

The data from the survey questions involving payment issues showed contradictory

responses from subcontractors and general contractors. "While late payments are perceived by

many subcontractors to be a major issue, few general contractors acknowledge it as problem"

(Arditi and Chotibghongs 2005).









The second parameter examined in Arditi and Chotibghongs' study involved retainage

withheld by the general contractor. Retainage withheld by the general contractor is ostensibly

used as a reserve found to compensate for faulty or missing work performed by the

subcontractor. The survey data revealed that retainge is almost always withheld by the general

contractor. Forty-six percent of the subcontractors indicated that retainage could produce cash

flow problems, whereas 12% of general contractors did not think so.

The conclusion of the study by Arditi and Chotibghongs, exposed jobsite relationship

difficulties experienced by subcontractors, and recommended solutions to mitigate the current

dilemmas. These solutions included requiring the general contractor to pay their subcontractor

right after completion of the subcontracted work, and to eliminate the imposition of automatic

retainage on funds earned by subcontractors.

A study by Proctor in 1996 attempted to provide a solution for mitigating relationship

issues among general contractors and subcontractors. Proctor developed a system that applied the

"golden rule" to the relationship between the general contractor and the subcontractor. The

concept of the golden rule requires that each party treat the other, as he or she would want to be

treated. This method utilizes the four Cs. The four Cs are as follows: consideration,

communication, cooperation, and compensation. The four Cs represent Proctor's ideal jobsite

relationship. Each factor could be utilized to solve a specific set of circumstances. Proctor

concluded that consideration, communication, cooperation, and compensation are only effective

if the general contractor assumes ultimate responsibility for the successful completion of the

project. He also stated that disagreements and jobsite complications between general contractors

and subcontractors would occur less frequently if the general contractor recognized project errors

sooner (Proctor 1996).









"The Contractor-Subcontractor Relationship: The Subcontractor's View" was written in

1994 by Hinze and Tracey. In relation to the previous reviews, Hinze and Tracey conducted an

exploratory study to obtain general information about the working relationships between

subcontractors and general contractors. The study took place in the Puget Sound area and

included 28 of the following subcontractors: drywall-plaster, painting, mechanical, electrical,

masonry, utility, flooring, and elevator. The study was conducted entirely through personal

interviews from which the data were analyzed and recorded. The study concluded that

subcontractors do not solely rely upon the general contractor for guidance and coordination.

Subcontractors feel that the general contractors are not concerned about the best interests of the

subcontractors. Hinze and Tracey also stated that many subcontracts are awarded without any

formal discussion. This process can lead increased levels of poor communication and future

conflicts. "The goal of this study was to improve the image of the industry and to lend a greater

sense of pride to those involved in the construction process" (Hinze and Tracey 1994).

Productivity

Productivity is the amount of output produced relative to the amount of resources

allocated for a project. In the construction industry, "subcontractors bear responsibility for much

of the productivity levels on the construction site, particularly in areas such as labor relations,

supervision, material delivery, prefabrication, standardization, worker training, quality control,

and equipment maintenance" (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005).

Much of the research on the study of subcontractor productivity is lacking due to

subcontractor absence from productivity research studies (Arditi and Chotibhongs 2005). In

1998, Ting-Ya Hsieh conducted a research study on the impact of subcontracting productivity in

Taiwan. The main purpose of his paper was to highlight the importance of subcontracting in

construction and argue that subcontracting has been the missing element in construction









productivity studies. In order to complete his exploration, Hsieh send out 1,080 surveys to

general contractors inquiring about the nature and extent of subcontracting in Taiwan. These

surveys determined that subcontractor productivity is hindered by a series of barriers (1) market

forces, (2) interfirm transaction linkages, and (3) the Intra-firm economic objectives. Market

forces are guided by competition. For example, in a highly competitive atmosphere, general

contractors will lower their mark-up in order to secure a bid. This procedure innately intensifies

the risks of construction, which get passed down to the subcontractors. Inter-firm transaction

linkage refers to the contractual and behavioral aspects of the contractor-subcontractor

relationship. These aspects can cause great productivity loss. For instance, "due to various

uncertainties in construction, the original contract agreements concerning pricing, quantity,

quality standards, and delivery schedule may need to be adjusted, causing disputes to arise and

worsen the team spirit of the project." Under the last barrier of Intra-firm economic objectives,

the general contractor can exert effort to maximize profit in two directions (A) control

subcontract costs, and (B) decrease internal overhead. Both of these strategies will decrease

worker productivity. For example, cutting overhead costs will result in a reduction of

supervision, creating a lack of quality control leading to frustration (Hsieh 1998).

Hsieh's study concluded that in order for productivity levels to remain constant the general

contractor must implement both contractual and behavioral strategies. He also affirmed that

subcontractor involvement in productivity research has filled the gaps between existing studies,

and opened new possibilities for future research (Hsieh 1998).

Summary

Subcontractors are a necessary resource in the construction industry. This literature review

addressed the most recent ideas investigated involving subcontracting. Many issues in









subcontracting have been studied except the topic of sub-subcontracting. This study will explore

the process and involvement of sub-subcontractors in the construction industry.










CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

Introduction

The objective of this research was to explore the practice of multi-tier subcontracting in the

construction industry and to provide general information about the practice of sub-subcontracting

in construction. The research systematically explored the practice of contracting out work from

the perspective of both contractors and subcontractors. The study obtained information from

general contractors and subcontractors as both are involved whenever sub-subcontracting occurs.

The first step in this research was to conduct a literature review. The literature search

examined material related to previous studies conducted on subcontracting in the construction

industry. The literature review provided sufficient information to develop a foundation for this

research.

This research was to obtain information from general contractors and subcontractors. To

obtain this information, it was decided that a mail-out survey approach was most appropriate.

This would require the development of two surveys, namely one for general contractors and one

for subcontractors. Both surveys were designed to measure the respondents' experiences with

sub-subcontracting.

Survey Questions Designed

The General Contractor Survey was designed to determine each the general contractor' s

familiarity with sub-subcontracting. This survey entitled "General Contractor Experience with

Sub-Subcontractors" is included as appendices in this thesis. The questionnaire included fill- in-

the-blank questions about the firms' background, as well as multiple-choice questions

concerning the general contractor's perception of sub-subcontractor productivity, quality and the

frequency of use of sub-subcontractors. The survey also incorporated questions that pertained to









the general contractor's reaction to statements regarding the work ethic and supervision of sub-

subcontractors.

The Subcontractor Survey was intended to capture information about sub-subcontracting

work from a subcontractor's perspective. The survey was designed for subcontractors in the

construction industry to gather information that could not be found in the literature review. This

survey was entitled "Subcontractor Experience with Sub-Subcontractors" and can be found in the

Appendix. The questionnaire for this survey was configured much like the General Contractor

Survey, but it had a greater percentage of questions pertaining to the firm's background and

specialty trade. The specific information on the firm's specialty trade was asked to identify the

type of work most commonly sublet in the construction industry.

Both of the surveys contained thirteen questions. The first quarter of the survey dealt with

questions pertaining to the company's background and the business volume of the firm. The

second quarter of the survey administered questions pertaining to contractual obligations

concerning sub-subcontracting. The third quarter pertained to the firm's reaction to statements

made about sub-subcontractors. For example, respondents were asked to indicate the extent to

which they agreed with specific statements. Some questions were to be answered by selecting

from Likert-scale descriptions such as strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor

disagree, slightly disagree, disagree or strongly disagree. The final part of the survey inquired

about the firm's opinions on sub-subcontractor safety problems and the primary reasons why

their firm or other firms would sub-subcontract all or part of their work on a project. In addition

to the surveys, an introductory letter was prepared that described the purpose of the study and the

rights of respondents. Approval for the survey was obtained from the University of Florida

Institutional Review Board.









Sample Selection

The sample selection of construction companies used in this study consisted of two

groups. The first group surveyed consisted of 50 of the office and field level management

personnel of Engineering News Record's Top 200 Contracting Firms of 2006 and 50 of the top

301-400 Contracting Firms of 2006. This group represented predominately commercial and

industrial general contracting construction companies from across the United States. The

grouping of the top 301-400 was to provide a comparison of the smaller firms ($121 million to

$176 million) to the larger top 200 firms ($262 million to $14.6 billion). The contractors were

selected by choosing every fourth contractor on ENR's Top 200 and every other contractor on

ENR's Top 301-400. A total of 100 questionnaires were sent to the randomly-selected general

contractors.

The Second group surveyed consisted of the subcontractors listed on Engineering News

Record's Top 600 Specialty Contractors of 2006. A random sample was taken from this specialty

contractor list. Examples of the participants included the following specialty trades: HVAC,

sheet metal, electrical, painting, concrete, woodwork, excavation, steel erection, drywall,

masonry, plumbing, utility, and asphalt and grading. A total of 100 surveys were sent to this

group.

Surveys Conducted

The first step used to collect the data included developing a list of general contracting and

subcontracting firms. This list included a physical address and a contact name. The address and

contact name for each company was located in the issues of Engineering News Record's Top

400 and 600 contractors. The second step performed was to create mailing labels and to package

the envelopes with the proper questionnaire and IRB disclaimer. The third step performed was to









contact the companies by mail with the surveys. The final procedure was to review and analyze

the data that was obtained for the study of sub-subcontracting in the construction industry.

Initial Analysis Performed

After the survey responses were received, both the General Contractor Survey and the

Subcontractor Survey were analyzed in a similar manner. The results of the General Contractor

Survey and the Subcontractor Survey were analyzed by calculating the mean, median, and

frequency of responses. Microsoft Excel 2003 was the software used to calculate the results.










CHAPTER 4
RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

Survey Response Rate

A total of 200 surveys were distributed to the selected contractors and specialty contractors

on November 11, 2006. These surveys consisted of two separate questionnaires. The General

Contractor Survey was created for general contractors and the Subcontractor Survey for

subcontractors. Each survey group was sent 100 questionnaires. Companies solicited for this

survey were selected at random, producing a diverse sample of the construction industry. A total

of 38 responses were received within a month of distribution. The rate of return was 23% for the

General Contractor Survey and 15% for the Subcontractor Survey.

Demographics

Respondents to the General Contractor Survey represented companies with annual

construction volumes ranging from $140 million to $1.8 billion (Table 4-1). The median annual

construction volume of those companies was $300 million. The titles/positions of respondents to

the surveys included President, Senior Vice President, Project Manager, Project Engineer, and

Chief Operating Officer. Companies represented by this survey included commercial general

construction companies and industrial construction companies. Commercial and industrial

companies were not specifically chosen, but are the types of firms listed on Engineering News

Record's Top 400 Contractors that were selected as survey recipients.

Respondents to the Subcontractor Survey represented companies with annual construction

volumes ranging from $14 million to $250 million (Table 4-1). The median annual construction

volume of those companies was $16.8 million. The titles/positions of the respondents of the

surveys included President, Senior Vice President, Project Manager, Project Engineer, and Chief

Operating Officer. Examples of the participants involved in the Subcontractor Survey represent









the following specialty trades: HVAC, sheet metal, electrical, painting, concrete, woodwork,

excavation, steel erection, drywall, masonry, plumbing, utility, and asphalt and grading.

General Contractor Survey Results

In order to understand the need for sub-subcontractors in the construction industry,

respondents completing the survey were asked to answer a series of questions pertaining to their

experience with sub-subcontracting. To determine background information, respondents

completing the survey were asked what percentage of their construction work was self-

performed. The median response was 12.5% with a maximum 90% and minimum of 0% (Table

4-2). To compare the number of subcontractors and sub-subcontractors on construction projects

the respondents were asked how many subcontractors were involved on a typical project. The

median response was 25 subcontractors with a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 60 (Table 4-3).

The succeeding question asked how many sub-subcontractors were involved on a typical project.

The median response was 10 with a minimum of zero and a maximum of 60 (Table 4-4).

When asked if sub-subcontracting was more common on some types of projects then

others 70% of the respondents said "No", while 30% of the respondents said "Yes" (Figure 4-1).

These respondents were asked to explain their reason for replying "Yes". The responses included

complex projects, larger projects, and multi-family buildings.

The next question asked how the issue of sub-subcontracting was addressed in their

subcontract agreements. The categories consisted of four multiple-choice responses including:

the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed, the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work

if approved by the general contractor, the subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of

the work, and other. Fourteen percent of the respondents stated that the issue of sub-

subcontracting was not addressed contractually, 81% of the respondents stated that

subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the general contractor, and 5% of the









respondents stated that subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of the work (Figure

4-2).

An attempt was made to determine the specialty trades that are most commonly sub-

subcontracted on a typical construction project. The trades represented by the sub-subcontracted

work were as follows: insulation, excavation, caulking and sealants, fire-safing, drywall,

framing, masonry, roofing, traffic control, low-voltage specialty systems, landscaping, and other.

Figure 4-3 shows the distribution of the various trades selected; respondents were asked to check

all that applied. Based on 96 responses, the most common sub-subcontracted trade, with 15

responses (16%), was low-voltage specialty systems. Low-voltage specialty systems include but

are not limited to communication wiring, fire alarm systems, security systems and A/C controls.

Because of the highly specialized nature of the work, low-voltage specialty systems are

associated with the most sub-subcontracted work.

The next set of questions asked respondents to rate the quality and productivity of sub-

subcontractors. Each question asked the respondents how they would generally rate the quality

and productivity of sub-subcontracted work. The answer choices for both questions were as

follows: better than subcontractors, about the same as subcontractors, and lower quality done by

the sub-subcontractors. The response rates for both questions were correlated. Every respondent

who chose an answer describing the quality of sub-subcontractors also chose the same answer to

describe their productivity (Figure 4-4). The responses most chosen for both questions show that

the general contractors feel that quality and productivity of the sub-subcontractors is the same as

that of the subcontractors.

Contractors were asked about the services sub-subcontractors provide most often. The

choices listed were: design input, prefabrication of components, material supply, and









construction installation. Based on 29 responses, the results show that 19 of the respondents

(66%) stated that most sub-subcontractors provide construction installation services the most. Six

of the ten responses were in the category "material supply", and the remaining 4 were divided

among "design input" and "prefabrication of components" (Figure 4-5).

Information was sought about the general contractors' attitudes toward sub-subcontractors

in a series of four statements portraying their firm. The respondents were asked to circle one

response that most accurately represented their opinions. The possible answers were: strongly

agree, agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slightly disagree, disagree, or strongly

disagree. The first statement declared that more project disputes arose with sub-subcontractors.

Figure 4-6 shows that most of the respondents had varied opinions about this statement. There is

an even distribution of agreement and disagreement with a majority of the respondents neither

agreeing nor disagreeing.

The second statement declared that the firm had not had any significant problems with

work that was sub-subcontracted. Based on 23 responses, Figure 4-7 shows that most general

contractors have mixed opinions about having any significant problems concerning sub-

subcontractors.

The third comment stated, "it is often impossible for the firm to determine if workers on

the jobsite are employed by subcontractors or sub-subcontractors." Based on the responses,

Figure 4-8 shows that there are varied opinions about this issue, but a significant number of the

respondents agreed that it is often impossible to determine if workers on the job site are employed

by subcontractors or sub-subcontractors.

The fourth statement declared that the firm (general contractor) needed to do a better job of

controlling the amount of work that was sub-subcontracted. Based on the responses, Figure 4-9









shows that a most of the respondents surveyed felt that their firm did not need to do a better job

of controlling the amount of work that was sub-subcontracted. Nonetheless, there were some

general contractor respondents that stated that greater control over sub-subcontracting was

needed.

The survey asked respondents to identify any unique safety problems encountered with

work that was done by sub-subcontractors. Based on 23 responses, 61% of the respondents stated

that they had never encountered any safety issues with sub-subcontractors (Figure 4-10). On the

other hand, 39% of the respondents revealed that they have had safety problems with sub-

subcontractors. Respondents who answered, "Yes" were asked to explain their specific

circumstances related to this response. Safety issues included the following: no safety program,

lack of safety knowledge, workers not trained in safety, missed safety orientation sessions,

language and communication difficulties and not complying with the general contractor's safety

policies.

In order to determine why subcontractors sub-subcontract some or all of their work,

general contractors were asked to indicate why they felt sub-subcontracting was done. They were

given the following four choices: inability to provide a sufficient work force to complete the

work, work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, some work is too specialized for the firm, and

other (see Figure 4-11). Based on 37 responses, 17 of the respondents (46%) felt that

subcontractors sub-subcontract their work due to their inability to provide a sufficient work

force. A total of 11 respondents (30%) believed that some work is too specialized for the

subcontractor. Seven respondents (19%) felt that work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price,

which guarantees a profit to the subcontractor. Two of the respondents (5%) chose the choice

"other", but did not elaborate on the reason for their answer.









Subcontractor Survey Results

To understand the need for sub-subcontractors in the construction industry, the

subcontractor respondents were asked to answer a series of questions pertaining to their

experience with sub-subcontracting. To obtain background information, respondents were asked

about the amount of their contracted construction work that was self-performed. The median

response was 93% with a minimum 30% and maximum of 100% (Table 4-5). To determine the

prevalence of sub-subcontracting on construction projects, respondents were to estimate the

number of sub-subcontractors involved on a typical project. The median response was 1.5 with a

minimum of zero and a maximum of 25 (Table 4-6).

When asked if sub-subcontracting is more common on some types of projects then others

53% of respondents said "No", while 47% respondents said "Yes" (Figure 4-12). The

respondents replying "yes" were asked to explain their answers. The types of projects involving

more sub-subcontracting included hospitals and schools, surface prep jobs, projects involving

fuel/oil, projects requiring a fire alarm, projects with roofing shingles, and projects with

automatic opening doors.

Subcontractor respondents were asked how the issue sub-subcontracting was addressed in

their subcontract agreements with the general contractor. The categories consisted of four

multiple-choice responses including: the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed, the

subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the general contractor, the

subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of the work, and other. Based on 15

responses, 13% of the respondents said that the issue of sub-subcontracting was not addressed,

while 87% (13 of 15 respondents) of the respondents said that subcontractors can sub-

subcontract the work if approved by the general contractor (Figure 4-13).









An attempt was made to determine the specialty trades that are most commonly sub-

subcontracted on a typical construction project. As previously noted in the General Contractor

Survey results, the trades deemed to be the best candidates were developed through research

obtained in the review of the literature. The trades listed included the following: insulation,

excavation, caulking & Sealants, fire-safing, drywall, framing, masonry, roofing, traffic control,

low-voltage specialty systems, landscaping, and other. Figure 4-14 shows the distribution of the

various trades selected; respondents were asked to check all that applied. Based on 28 responses,

the most common answer with ten responses was "other". The response "other" was listed with a

blank space provided for explanation. The explanations provided are as follows: sheet metal,

ductwork, and test/balance. The second highest response rate was insulation with seven

responses.

The next set of questions on the survey related to an assessment of the quality and

productivity of sub-subcontractors. Each question asked the respondents how they would

generally rate the quality and productivity of sub-subcontractors. The choices for both questions

were as follows: good, improvement desired, not observed, and unsatisfactory. The responses for

both of these questions were interrelated. Every respondent who chose an answer describing the

quality of sub-subcontractors also chose the same answer describing their productivity (see

Figure 4-15). The response most often chosen on both questions indicated that the subcontractors

felt that sub-subcontractor performance is "good" when rating quality and productivity.

Subcontractors were asked which services sub-subcontractors provide the most. The

choices listed were: design input, prefabrication of components, material supply, and

construction installation. Based on 20 responses, the results show that 13 of the respondents

(65%) believed that sub-subcontractors generally provide construction installation services. Four









of the seven remaining responses were related to the category "material supply", and four were

divided among "design input" and "prefabrication of components" (Figure 4-16).

Information was sought about subcontractor attitudes toward sub-subcontractors. In

response to specific comments, the respondents were asked to circle one response appropriately

labeled strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slightly disagree,

disagree, or strongly disagree. The first statement stated that more disputes arose on projects in

which they used sub-subcontractors than on those that did not. Figure 4-17 shows that a majority

of the respondents were unsure of the statement. The distribution of responses illustrates that

many respondents disagree or cannot make a decision based on their firm's history.

The second statement asked respondents to indicate the level of agreement with the

statement that no significant problems exist with work that their firm sub-subcontracted. Based

on the responses, Figure 4-18 shows that more subcontractors have not faced any significant

problems concerning sub-subcontractors in the past, but some respondents did disagree with the

statement.

The third statement declared that the firm needed to continuously monitor the working

progress of sub-subcontractors to prevent poor craftsmanship and mistakes. Based on the

responses, Figure 4-19 reveals that a majority of the respondents felt that their firm did indeed

need to do a better job of monitoring the working progress of sub-subcontractors.

The survey asked respondents to identify any unique safety problems encountered with

work that was done by sub-subcontractors (Figure 4-20). Based on 15 responses, 57% of the

respondents stated that they had never encountered any safety issues with sub-subcontractors.

However, 43% of the respondents revealed that they had safety problems with sub-

subcontractors. Respondents who answered, "Yes" were asked to explain their specific









circumstance. Several safety issues were noted, including no safety program, OSHA is not

effective, workers were not trained in safety, language barrier, no scaffold training, and ignoring

subcontractor safety requirements.

In order to determine why subcontractors sub-subcontract some or all of their work,

subcontractors were asked to choose the primary reasons from the following four choices:

inability to provide a sufficient work force to complete the work, work is sub-subcontracted at a

fixed price, some work is too specialized for the firm, and other (Figure 4-21). Based on 23

responses, six of the respondents (26%) felt that subcontractors sub-subcontract their work due to

their inability to provide a sufficient work force. A total of 14 respondents (61%) believed that

some work was too specialized for the subcontractor. Three respondents (13%) felt that work

was sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which guaranteed a profit to the subcontractor. None of

the respondents chose the choice "other."










Table 4-1. Annual revenue of respondent
Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum
General Contractor 23 $497 million $300 million $140 million $1.8 billion
Subcontractor 15 $69.4 million $16.8 million $14 million $250 million

Table 4-2. Percent of construction work self performed
Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum
General Contractor 23 21% 12.5% 0% 90%

Table 4-3. Number of subcontractors involved on a typical construction project
Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum
General Contractor 23 25 25 5 60

Table 4-4. Number of sub-subcontractors on a typical construction project
Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum
General Contractor 23 14-2 10 0 60

Table 4-5. Percentage of work self performed
Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum
Subcontractor 15 84% 93% 30% 100%

Table 4-6. Number of sub-subcontractors on a construction project
Type of Firm N Mean Median Minimum Maximum
Subcontractor 15 3.5 1.5 0 25












80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%


YES


Figure 4-1. Is sub-subcontracting more common on some projects than others (N = 23)


20
18
16
0 14
12
S10
0 8
6
E 4
z 2
0


The issue of sub- The subcontractors The subcontractors
subcontracting is not can sub-subcontract are forbidden to sub-
addressed the work if approved subcontract any of the
by the GC work


Other


Figure 4-2. How sub-letting work is addressed in contract agreements (N = 22)


I -


I



























Most Common Sub-subcontracted tasks


Insulation Eexcavation
*caulk&seal Ofire saying
Drywall *framing
Omasonry Dother
Roofing Etraffic control
Olow voltage specialty system Olandscape



Figure 4-3. Specialties most commonly sub-subcontracted (N


80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%


about the same as
subcontractors


lower quality done by sub-
subcontractor


Figure 4-4. Quality and productivity of sub-subcontractor (N = 23)


better than subcontractors


I























design input


prefabrication of
com ponents


material supply construction
installation


Figure 4-5. Services sub-subcontractors provide most often (N = 29)


strongly agree slightly neither slightly disagree strongly
agree agree agree nor disagree disagree
disagree

Figure 4-6. More disputes arise on the job with sub-subcontractors (N = 23)


7 -


6

5

I 4

t 3
E
z
2

1

0


stro n g ly agree slightly ne ithe r slightly disagree stro n g ly
agree agree ag ree nor disagree disagree
d isag ree


Figure 4-7. No significant problems with sub-subcontracted work (N = 23)


:::::_::::::::::-::::::




























agree slightly neither
agree agree nor
disagree


slightly
disagree


disagree strongly
disagree


Figure 4-8. Impossible to determine if workers are employed by subs or sub-subs (N = 23)



8 I


6
0-
5
4
I3
E 2
z


strongly
agree


agree slightly agree neither agree slightly disagree
nor disagree disagree


strongly
disagree


Figure 4-9. Firm needs better job of controlling amount of work sub-subcontracted (N = 23)


70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%


YES


Figure 4-10. Unique safety problems with work done by sub-subcontractor (N = 23)


strongly
agree











18
16
14
C
o. 12
O 10
8
m
6
E 4
z 2



inability to work is sub- some work is too other
provide sufficient subcontracted at specialized
work force a fixed price

Figure 4-11. Reasons subcontractors sub-subcontract work (N = 37)





S100%
ci
o 80%

4-
0%
L 40%

c 20%


NO YES

Figure 4-12. Sub-subcontracting more common on some projects than others (N= 15)












' 100%
a 90%
. 80%
8 70%-
2 60%
4-
0 50%
i 40%
S30%
-
= 20%
I 10%
W 0%
(L


the issue of sub- the subcontractors can the subcontractors are
subcontracting is not sub-subcontract the work forbidden to sub-
addressed if approved by the subcontract any of the
general contractor work


other


Figure 4-13. Issue of sub-letting work in contract agreements (N = 15)






12

S10 -
0
8 8

6-

4 -
E
z 2

0 I

Most Common Sub-Subcontracting Tasks


* insulation
O caulk&seal
* other
* traffic control


o excavation
fire safing
* roofing
o low voltage specialty system


Figure 4-14. Specialties most commonly sub-subcontracted (N = 28)


-











80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%


Not Observed


Unsatisfactory


Figure 4-15. Quality and productivity of sub-subcontractor (N


design input


prefabrication of material supply
components


construction
installation


Figure 4-16. Services sub-subcontractors provide most often (N


Improvement
Desired


Good


S20)



















0 -!--4--
strongly
agree


agree slightly neither slightly disagree strongly
agree agree disagree disagree
nor
disagree


Figure 4-17. More disputes on projects which utilize sub-subcontractors (N= 15)


6
U5

I-
4-

Ei II


o l--
strongly
agree


agree slightly neither
agree agree nor
disagree


slightly
disagree


disagree strongly
disagree


Figure 4-18. Subs have no problems with work they have sub-subcontracted (N = 15)





























agree slightly
agree


neither slightly disagree strongly
agree nor disagree disagree
disagree


Figure 4-19. Subcontractor needs to monitor working progress of sub-subcontractors (N =15)


60%

' 50%
o
0
C.
S40%

5 30%
0)
, 20%

S10%

0%


Figure 4-20. Unique safety problems (N = 15)


strongly
agree




























inability to provide
sufficient work force


work is sub-
subcontracted at a
fixed price


some work is too
specialized


Figure 4-21. Reasons subcontractor sub-subcontract work (N = 23)


other


m









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS

Survival in the construction industry is based on the concept of economic feasibility.

Subcontracting has allowed general contractors to sublet a portion or all of their work to decrease

costs and increase quality. Due to the time constraints placed on construction projects,

subcontractors have adapted to subletting their work for a variety of reasons.

In the past, general contractors self-performed a large portion of their work on construction

projects; today, it is not unusual for general contractors to subcontract 100% of their work on

commercial or residential projects. Subcontractors have recently adopted the process of

subletting some or all of the work in the scope of the subcontract. General contractors have

frequently noticed an equal number of subcontractors and sub-subcontractors on their

construction projects. This shows that a large percentage of the subcontracted work is being

sublet. The data show that the reasons for this increase are due to the lack of specialized labor

and an insufficient workforce to complete the tasks at hand. General contractors and

subcontractors feel that these two areas are the most common motivations for sub-

subcontracting.

Sub-subcontracting occurs on a variety of projects and at differing scales, but the research

concludes that it takes place more frequently on complex and larger projects. General contractors

and subcontractors feel that complex projects such as hospitals and multifamily structures

involve more labor and specialty tasks. The results of this research suggest, if needed, both the

general contractor and the subcontractor can predict the necessity for extra services. This means

a shortage of labor may deem certain projects out of the question because subcontractors might

have difficulty in locating the specialty trades to issue sub-subcontract agreements.









Subcontract agreements with the general contractor can limit the amount of work the

subcontractor sublets. The stipulations located in these agreements that pertain to sub-

subcontracting overwhelmingly favor the general contractor. In most cases the subcontractor is

only allowed to subcontract their work with the permission of the general contractor. The reason

for this is because the general contractor retains sole responsibility for the actions of the

subcontractor. Subcontractors have a contractual obligation to the general contractor to complete

their assigned portions of the work. Permission is required to sub-subcontract any work because

the general contractor must take on increased risk if they choose to allow the use of a sub-

subcontractor.

Quality and productivity levels of sub-subcontractors are key indicators to their success in

the construction industry. The results for these traits were surprisingly positive. Representation

of general contractors and subcontractors strongly believed that the quality and productivity

levels of sub-subcontractors are about the same or better than that of subcontractors. The data

pertaining to quality and productivity support the inference about increased levels of sub-

subcontracting. This shows that general contractors and subcontractors recognize the need for

sub-subcontracting and most likely encourage the use of sub-subcontracting if it can increase

productivity and quality of performance. The only disadvantage to this is that subcontractors feel

that they need to continuously monitor the progress of their sub-subcontractors to ensure proper

performance. Worker supervision is a problem in every sector of employment and can only be

remedied with trust and respect.

Problems on the jobsite with sub-subcontractors were researched in this study. The data

showed that the general contractors and the subcontractors did not encounter many disputes with

sub-subcontractors. In fact, the general contractors believed they were adequately managing the









sub-subcontractors, thereby mitigating the chance for disputes before they occur. Yet, the general

contractors did not deem every action of sub-subcontracting as being praiseworthy. The main

dilemma that perturbed the general contractors was the impossibility of determining which

workers were employed by subcontractors or by sub-subcontractors. This catch-22 can disrupt

the managing style of the general contractor.

The most noteworthy results revealed problems with sub-subcontractor safety. A

substantial number of general contractors and subcontractors considered safety to be an issue of

concern with sub-subcontracting. The prevailing issues with the practice of sub-subcontracting

include no safety programs, language barriers, and ignoring jobsite safety requirements. These

issues can be corrected if properly enforced.

Based on the findings of this study, the main conclusion is that sub-subcontracting is

steadily increasing. The research concludes that productivity, quality, specialized labor, a strong

economy, and insufficient workforce are the top factors driving the practice of sub-

subcontracting. Although, sub-subcontracting is risky for both the general contractor and

subcontractor, the services provided are worthy of the final product.









CHAPTER 6
RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendations for the Construction Industry

General contractors need to recognize that the practice of sub-subcontracting occurs often

and is on the rise. Since a contract agreement is not established between the general contractor

and the sub-subcontractor the general contractor must maintain good control of the sub-

subcontracting process. The general contractor must also monitor all subcontractors to make sure

they are following the stipulations regarding sub-subcontracting in their subcontract agreements.

Also, if the general contractor does not know whom to direct on the jobsite, effective

management skills may be compromised. A simple solution can remedy the situation; all workers

on the jobsite are required to display identification badges on their hard hats. This system would

not only solve the problem, but also increase security within the premises.

Recommendations for Future Research

Additional research on this topic will greatly improve its relevancy to the construction

industry. The first recommendation is for a future study that targets small to mid range general

contractors and subcontractors to gain an understanding of their perspective on the use of sub-

subcontracting. Previous studies have generally focused on large firms, but these studies

excluded the residential and small commercial sectors of the construction industry.

The third recommendation is that the study be conducted on a larger scale through personal

interviews and surveys. Personal interviews can lead to further explanations of the results

obtained in this study. These interviews should take place on several jobsite locations with field

personnel. Also, meticulous observation notes should be taken on the behavior of sub-

subcontractors to gain insight into the subcontractors' dilemma of having to continuously

monitor their sub-subcontractors.









The fourth recommendation is to have more in-depth research on the type of work that is

sub-subcontracted. This will provide a list of pre-defined tasks that the general contractor can be

aware of before subcontracting the work. By re-packaging work items, the general contractor

might be able to subcontract directly with firms that would other wise be sub-subcontractors.

The last area of suggested investigation is the frequency of multi-tier subcontracting in

disaster areas. The purpose of such a study would be to examine the magnitude of sub-

subcontracting in areas that have been devastated by natural disasters. These areas are more

prone to less stringent building code enforcement and have been noted to be built by shoddy

multi-tier contractors. This study would compare the issues discussed in this study with the

prevailing issues found in disaster areas.









APPENDIX A
GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND SUBCONTRACTOR SURVEYS

Contractor Survey Questionnaire

General Contractor Experience with Sub-Subcontractors
The following questions are to identify the general contractor'sfamiliarity i ith sub-
subcontractors based on your experience. Please check the appropriate options) and give brief
answers. The questionnaire can befinishedi~ ithin five minutes. Thank youfor your
participation.

1. In the past fiscal year, what was the approximate amount of the total revenues of your firm?
$ million

2. What percent of the construction work is self performed by your firm? %

3. How many subcontractors are involved on a typical project? subs

4. Is sub-subcontracting more common on some types of projects than others?
OYES D NO

If yes, explain:


5. How many sub-subcontractors are involved with a typical project?

6. How is the issue of sub-letting work addressed in your subcontract agreements?
D the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed
D the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the general contractor
D the subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of the work
D other:

7. What specialty(s) are most commonly sub-subcontracted on your projects?
(please check all that apply)
D insulation D fire-safing D framing D roofing D low-voltage specialty systems
D excavation D drywall D masonry D traffic control D landscaping
D caulking &sealants D other

8. How would you generally rate the quality of work of sub-subcontractors?
D better than subcontractors
D about the same as subcontractors (no apparent difference)
D lower quality done by sub-subcontractor

9. How would you generally rate the productivity of work performed by the sub-subcontractor?
D better than subcontractors
D about the same as subcontractors (no apparent difference)
D lower productivity done by sub-subcontractor










10. Which of the four services do sub-subcontractors provide most?
D design input I material supply
[ prefabrication of components D construction installation


11. To what extent do you consider the following statements to be true?

"More disputes arise on the job with sub-subcontractors."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor Disagree


"We have not had any significant problems with work that was sub-subcontracted."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor Disagree


"It is often impossible to determine if workers are employed by subs or sub-subs."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Strongly Agree Agree


Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor Disagree


* "Our firm needs to do a better job of controlling the amount of work that is sub-
subcontracted."


1 2
Strongly Agree Agree


3 4 5 6 7
Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor disagree


12. Have you encountered any unique safety problems associated with work that was done by
sub-subcontractors? OYES D NO

If yes, explain:




13. In your opinion, what are the primary reasons that subcontractors will sub-subcontract some
or all of their work to other firms?
D inability to provide sufficient work force to complete work
D work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which guarantees a profit to the subcontractor
D some work is too specialized for the firm
D other:









Subcontractor Survey Questionnaire











Subcontractor Experience with Sub-Subcontractors
The following questions are to identify the subcontractor'sfamiliarity i/ ith sub-subcontractors
based on your experience. Please check the appropriate options) and give brief answers. The
questionnaire can be finished i ithin five minutes. Thank you for your participation.

1. In the past fiscal year, what was the approximate amount of the total revenues of your firm?
$ million

2. What is your firm's specialty trade?

3. What percent of the construction work is self performed by your firm? %

4. How many sub-subcontracts are awarded by your firm on a typical project?

5. Is sub-subcontracting more common on some types of projects than others?
DYES D NO

If yes, explain:


6. How is the issue of sub-letting work addressed in the subcontract agreements your firm
executes with general contractors?
D the issue of sub-subcontracting is not addressed
D the subcontractors can sub-subcontract the work if approved by the general contractor
D the subcontractors are forbidden to sub-subcontract any of the work
D other:

7. What types of construction specialty(s) does your firm most commonly sub-subcontract on
your projects? (please check all that apply)
D insulation D fire-safing D framing D roofing D low-voltage specialty systems
D excavation D drywall D masonry D traffic control D landscaping
D caulking &sealants D other

8. How would you generally rate the quality of work of sub-subcontractors?
D good
D improvement desired
D not observed
D unsatisfactory

9. How would you generally rate the productivity of work performed by the sub-subcontractor?
D good
D improvement desired
D not observed
D unsatisfactory



10. Which of the four services do sub-subcontractors provide most commonly for your firm?










0 design input I material supply
D prefabrication of components D construction installation

11. To what extent do you consider the following statements to be true?

"More disputes arise on projects in which we utilize sub-subcontractors than on projects
that we do not."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor Disagree


"We have not had any significant problems with work that our firm sub-subcontracted."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor Disagree


"Our firm needs to continuously monitor the working progress of sub-subcontractors to
prevent poor craftsmanship and mistakes."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly Agree Agree Slightly Agree Neither Agree Slightly Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
nor disagree


12. Have you encountered any unique safety problems associated with work that was done by
sub-subcontractors? ]YES D NO

If yes, explain:




13. In your opinion, what are the primary reasons that your firm (the subcontractor) will sub-
subcontract some or all of its work to other firms?
D inability to provide sufficient work force to complete work
D work is sub-subcontracted at a fixed price, which guarantees a profit to the subcontractor
D some work is too specialized for the firm
I other:









APPENDIX B
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD SURVEY COVER LETTER


November 11, 2006

To: Potential Study Participants

Subject: Practice of Sub-Subcontracting

We, the M. E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida, are
conducting a study in the United States on the practice of sub-subcontracting. The focus of the
study is to examine the practice of sub-subcontracting and the effects it has on the construction
industry.

The study will be conducted through a survey in which a variety of questions will be asked about
your background and your experience with sub-subcontracting in the construction industry.
There are no risks associated with participating in this study and the survey can be completed in
about five minutes. A copy of the results summary will be provided to any interested
participants. Naturally, you are asked to answer only those questions that you feel comfortable in
answering.

Your individual responses will be kept strictly confidential to the extent provided by law.
Research data will be summarized so that the identity of individual participants will be
concealed. You have my sincere thanks for participating in this valuable study.

Sincerely,


Joshua Markowitz
Building Construction Graduate Student
Phone: (954) 609-0249 Fax: (352) 392-4537 Email: humesl@ufl.edu
hinze@ufl.edu
P.S. For information about participant rights, please contact the University of Florida

Institutional Review Board at (352) 392-0433 or Email: IRB2@ufl.edu.









LIST OF REFERENCES


Arditi, D., and Chotibhongs, R. (2005). "Issues in subcontracting practice." J. Constr. Eng. and
Manage., 131(8), 866-876.

Elazouni, A. M., and Metwally, F.G. (2000). "D-SUB: Decision support system for
subcontracting construction works." J. Constr. Eng. andManage., 126(3), 191-200.

Hsieh, Ting-Ya. (1998). "Impact of subcontracting on site sroductivity: Lessons learned in
Taiwan." J. Constr. Eng. andManage., 124(2), 91-100.

Hinze, Jimmie, and Andrew Tracey. (1994) "The contractor-subcontractor relationship: The
subcontractors view." J. Constr. Eng. andManage., 120(2), 274-287.

Proctor, Joseph R. (1996). "Golden rule of contractor-subcontractor relations." Pract.
Periodical on Struct. Des. and Constr., 1(1), 12-14.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Joshua Markowitz received his Bachelor of Science in political science from Florida State

University, Tallahassee, Florida, in April 2005. After graduation, he enrolled in the graduate

program in the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida,

Gainesville, Florida, to pursue a Master of Science in building construction.

Joshua was born in Miami, Florida. Upon graduation, he will move to Columbus, Ohio to

work as a Project Engineer. He hopes to become very successful and someday contribute to the

development of collegiate construction education.