How to hire a contractor
a very popular topic that seems to keep coming up is how much does this or that cost. how do i find a good contractor. why does this or that cost so damn much. can i do part of the job myself to cut down on the contractor's price.
let me give you 3 short stories.
1. i got a call from a new customer who just bought a small old house and wanted basically a complete gut rehab. i priced it out after meeting with them and my subs about 6-7 times. they told me that they were going to have other contractors over to bid the job as well which i encouraged. when all was said and done, my estimate was about $130k and the other 3 contractors were $65k, $115k, and just over $140k. i spoke with them several times regarding all the bids and told them the importance of checking all of our references. when all was done, they opted with the $65k contractor. i also gave them my itemized estimate, minus the prices, to give to the other contractors so that we were all bidding on exactly the same things including brand names. about 2 months after starting with the cheap guy i got a call. they paid him either $35k or $40 up front, he gutted the house and a week later stopped showing up. they never heard from him again. i redid my estimate, basically removing the demo and offered to help them get the house finished. they once again tried to piece out the work to the cheapest bidder and last i heard (about 4-5 years ago) they were still not in the house after more than a year.
2. a customer got me on a referral and asked me to price out a bunch of different jobs on a beautiful $2,000,000 house in a very nice town just outside of boston. he just purchased the house and we were doing most of the major work prior to him moving in. he asked me to price out the painting through my painter. he got 3 bids, one for $10k, one for $16k and one for $17k. after a few discussions and against my better judgement he went with the $10k guy. needless to say, within 2-3 months of him moving into the house he ended up paying my painter over $5k to redo all the problems from the original painter. plus they had to live there during all the work. to this day he's probably my best customer and i've gone to his house to just help him hang a picture. he calls me for everything now and always follows my recommendations.
3. A customer found me somehow last august and asked me to price out redoing his kitchen and open the wall between the kitchen and dining room and also remodel two bathrooms. they had just purchased the house and he wanted to move in asap. i bid the job and never heard from him again until about a month ago. i got a call and met him at the house. they still had not moved in. the kitchen had about 5 cabinets hung on the wall and the DR/kitchen wall was down. the cabinets were not installed properly, not level, not plumb and had multiple holes drilled in them. one even had a split face frame. both bathrooms were partially redone and he had fired everyone working on the job. all independent people as he was trying to be the GC himself. he asked me to just install the kitchen cabinets only and he was going to take care of the rest himself. we did the kitchen and he was thrilled with our work. two days ago he signed a contract to have me finish all the other work in the house minus the painting and i promised to have all my work done by may 1st. i bid on the painting as did 2 others, our price was $8.5k, another was $9.2 k and the third was $4.5k. all i can say is "Here we go again"
i hope you can all see what this boils down to and i'm speaking to all the non-contractors out there. i'm talking to the people that hire us. a house is something you live in for 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 years or more. if you want something done right you have to pay for it. not over pay for it and not under pay for it but pay for it none the less. why would someone pay $3,000 for a job to be done then pay $2,000 for it to be redone correctly when they could have had it done right the first time for $4,000.
I'm sure that all the other contractors on here have similar stories and i'd love to hear them as i'm sure ALL of our customers would love to hear them also. it's as true now as it was 100 years ago. "Your get what you pay for!!!!"
Last edited by MLBSF; 04-05-2012 at 08:06 PM.