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Most general contractors maintain a crew of hourly wage earners and hire subs for specialty work. But to adapt to the sluggish California economy, some GCs here have shed employees to cut overhead, and created a new strategy for handling the occasional larger job: Instead of maintaining a regular crew, they hire other contractors to do the work they can't complete themselves. Financially, hiring another GC is no different from hiring a sub: You pay a flat hourly rate or a lump-sum fee, and the company you hire takes care of labor-related paperwork like taxes and workers compensation. Peers as partners. According to general contractor Michael Hamman of Daly City, Calif., working cooperatively with another general contractor is more like a temporary partnership than a contractor-subcontractor relationship. "It's business among peers,"