Owners, developers and general contractors get a lot of notoriety for construction projects, especially in these infrastructure-focused times. However, the subcontractor is truly the one under the microscope, as this group requires the most care and attention to ensure the owners and operators are able to meet accelerating demand and public expectations.
The challenges in the current environment are many. Inflation and supply chain disruptions are highly detrimental to specialty trades in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, drywall and other areas. Reports show that the construction industry, in particular, has seen an increase of over 20% in the cost of supplies and building materials in the last year alone and, in some cases, over 90% since the start of the pandemic. While these costs are passed along to the owner, the subcontractor still retains significant cash flow risk. This truth is amplified in a volatile market. As if the cost was not enough, equipment and material shortages coupled with rising interest rates only compound the problem—and tenfold for small businesses.
Subcontractors are likely to feel the greatest pressure from supply-related issues. Inflation combined with supply chain shortages require subcontractors to prepare earlier for projects and, when possible, purchase materials upfront. However, the consequence of this preliminary preparation equates to further strains on cash flow. In an effort to remain aligned on schedules and budgets, subcontractors frequently buy all of a project’s materials as soon as a contract is signed—if not before.
Reprinted courtesy of Anwar Ghauche, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.