Taking on jobs as a subcontractor or on a platform
Working for a contractor
You can choose to offer your services to a larger organisation and work as a subcontractor. This means that a contractor hires you for a one-time job because of your knowledge and experience. You bill them for the hours you need to do the work, the materials you used, and travel time. Make clear arrangements with your client, stating clearly when and how long you are available. This will help avoid misunderstandings and protect your relationship. Working with a contractor means that you do not have to find assignments yourself. Your client will communicate and negotiate with principals on your behalf. If your client no longer wants to hire you or no longer needs you, you will lose some or all of your income.
Working via platforms
You can also find work by subscribing to online platforms like werkspot. The price varies regionally and depends on how many jobs you are looking to take on. On these platforms, you can respond to jobs. Customers can compare you to other professionals based on reviews, your profile, and how quickly you reply.
Finding construction work as a self-employed professional
Joining an employment agency
You can join an employment agency. Customers offer jobs to these agencies, which distribute them to the self-employed professionals in their database. When you register, you share your preferences and area of expertise. This is an easy way for newcomers to find customers before they have their own network.
Building a network
Increase your visibility online or by word of mouth and good reviews:
- Make sure that people can find you online.
- Ask satisfied customers to leave a review.
- When you finish a job, leave your card.
- Offer your services via social media.
Ask your customer to share your details with family and friends.
Collaborating with other construction businesses
Working with other construction businesses (in Dutch) has lots of advantages. You get to benefit from each other’s network. And you can take on jobs that require your combined knowledge and experience. You can also pass on jobs to each other or work together.
Setting your hourly rate
An appropriate hourly rate depends on various factors, such as your expertise, your experience, and demand. Make sure to include costs for:
- Time spent on admin work
- Amortisation, for example of tools or your company van
- How much do other professionals in your field charge?
- How much work experience do you have?
- Is your skill set very rare or quite common?
You have a business that repairs degraded concrete. You are very experienced and in high demand. As a result, you can usually charge a higher hourly rate.
You are a plumber. You are only just starting out and only have a handful of customers. You could choose to charge slightly less than other plumbers. This will improve your chance of landing the job and will help you gain experience.
You are a construction worker. You have a large client base and have to plan jobs ahead of time. This is a good time to raise your hourly rate.
Making quotations and invoices
First things first: make a good estimate of the work to be done. Next, the customer can compare your quotation with the quotations submitted by other businesses.
Costs: hourly rate and material costs
What to specify in a quotation:
- how much time you will need (in hours)
- your hourly rate
- the materials
- the costs of these materials
Finally, state the total price of your work.
General terms and conditions: additional work and validity
Make sure to include General terms and conditions in your quotation. Explain what you will charge for additional work, for example, and for how long the quotation will be valid.
Finally, specify your payment terms. It is common for professionals to demand partial payment up front. Some charge 30% of the total quotation price up front to purchase materials, for example. You can then invoice another 30% halfway and invoice the remaining amount when the work is done.
If your customer accepts your quotation, you will know exactly what work there is to be done and when to send invoices.