Dealing directly with the H.O. is preferable but if you are getting the job thru the GC he/she will not want this to happen for obvious reasons, MONEY. The GC adds a percentage to your price for himself, that's how he makes money.
Now, if you complete the work and the GC does not pay you, your recourse is to install a mechanic's lien against the property. I have verbiage in my contract that states the GC will be liable for all expenses incurred if I have to chase him for my money. One of the GC's I currently do work for would love to see me forgo my contract and just give him a proposal for him to sign and go to work. The problem with this, IMO, is that should he default on paying me, I still would go thru the trouble of installing lien BUT all of the expenses incurred with doing this would come out of my pocket.
I use the same contract regardless of the size of the job. My contract is very fair, IMO, nothing one-sided. It states exactly what work I will be performing, warranty, payment schedule, owner/contract default remedies, persons authorized to sign change orders (learned this from my previous employer. he was doing work for a GC and the field superintendant was signing our change orders w/out any problems. at the end of the job when it came time to figure out the final payout, the GC said he didn't agree to ANY of the change orders and he would not pay for any of them. " The change orders should have been sent to the shop for me to sign, not the field superintendant." Now you go thru the BS of installing a lien on the property.)
So, as a new contractor my advice is to be paranoid. Listen to your gut feelings. If you get the feeling a GC is yanking your chain, be cautious. Many a GC will develop amnesia when it comes time for payment. DO NOT perform any extra's w/out a signed change order. Many a GC will PROMISE to pay you for the extra's and will argue about the price after the job is complete.
When I start a job I discreetly tell the H.O. to make sure they get Final Lien Waivers from the GC for every subcontractor that was involved with the job. It goes a long way to making sure you get paid. No final payment, no Final Waiver, period.
[This message has been edited by sparky 134 (edited 10-24-2005).]