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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3

    Smile The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    Worth a read if you are new to remodeling. A true
    horror story with my perspective. Also my personal blog
    that is "different".

    thetruthonlydementia.blogspot.com/#!/2013/03/the-low-bid-home-remodel-tale.html

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    820

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    i read your whole story and found it interesting. however it's a story i've heard in many forms, many times, over the past 15 years. there are many posts (on this forum) that i and others have made over the past few years which address your story, almost exactly. the points we all stress over and over again are the following.

    1. get several estimates, minimum of 3-4
    2. never go with the lowest estimate if it's considerably below the others.
    3. check references, ask to see other jobs completed by the contractor.
    4. check references
    5. CHECK REFERENCES

    it seems to me from stories i've heard, friends that i've talked with, customers i've dealt with, that people seem to let these things slide more often than not. the low bidders are usually the nicest people up front. the high bidders usually don't want the job unless they're going to get a crazy amout for it. the good, reasonable, contractors are smart, educated in their trade, matter of fact, show up on time, are personable yet they just talk business. that's what you want. i wouldnt' care if my contractor was interested in playing catch with my son and being all friendly and caring about what's going on in our lives, but i would care if he was detail oriented in his approach to his job.

    i can write about this for hours and i'm sure some of the people on here will do so, but i think you learned your lesson and i think that anyone who is considering a major house remodel, even a bathroom remodel, should read your story and all our posts related to this topic.

    we don't offer all the information in these forums because we enjoy typing. we do it because we care about our jobs, we care about our customers satisfaction, we care about our customers spreading the word about our work and we care about people getting scammed by shoddy contractors because it makes us look bad.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    Actually, I DID check his references. I went to one job, and drove by two others. Most contractors who have been in business have some good references to use, and really for the right job, maybe he would have been fine. He WAS a good carpenter anyway, but as a contractor this job was over his head, and he was over his head in debt and did stupid stuff. I feel kinda bad for not reporting him (or sueing him), but that would have been THE END for his career, and maybe I still get nothing except revenge? Since I got what I wanted at a reasonable price, I passed on that.
    I still think it is a k-rap shoot. Like interviewing, like going to mechanic, like all that stuff except the stakes are bigger. Once in a lifetime bigger, $140k in this case.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    Not all "lowest bidders" are like this one. You just fell into the hands of a crook, who was guilty, among other things, of commingling funds. In a way you, as the homeowner, was guilty for not watching over your general contractor. FYI, This happens a lot.

    In 'not watching over your GC' I mean, you don't need to be an expert in construction, but you need to be organized, demand performance for money disbursed, demand lien releases from everybody involved, demand to see approvals from the building dept, and so on.

    This story should be a warning to all folks who hire contractors, or any professional in whatever field and line of work.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    I can attest these comments have some merit. This contractor was a little too friendly, showing up 3 or 4 times to help me plan even before I had plans. Yes, there were several types of contractors I interviewed. The high bidders who wanted a fortune, a few possible "good ones" who just met once, talked business, then gave me a reasonable bids although hard to swallow higher, and this guy.
    I'm pretty sure NOBODY could have supervised more than myself except for the part about asking everyone if they got paid or not. Asking for lien releases for partial milestones of work? I have never heard of that.
    The remodel cost more than the home orginally cost, so it's a big deal to anyone undertaking such a thing. I wrote the story to give a heads up, and I see your good site and advice is doing the same.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,480

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    Progress payments should only be made at milestones along the way, which should also be laid out within the contract. My payment schedules usually went as follows.

    1 - Deposit. In my neck of the woods that is 10% or $1000, whichever is less.
    2 - Start of project, which usually was purchase or delivery of materials to the site.
    3 - Interim payments. Depending on the size of the job, there may be one or could be several, which were noted within the contract. Milestones vary from job to job, but on a major interior remodel, things like completion of rough-in or framing, drywall installation (not finish work ), installation of cabinetry, interior painting, flooring installation, things of this nature that are obvious to everyone. These payments need to be in writing so that both sides know when they are due.
    4 - Final payment. As the term suggests, is the last payment on the work, and like interim payments, should be noted within the contract. The project should be competed, any minor repairs or adjustments are done, etc. Final payment is the very last thing that happens before the contractor leaves the project for the last time.

    The part that many do not know about are lien releases. Again, in my neck of the woods, this is a multi-step process. It begins with the signing of the contract, anyone who has anything to do with the project has a certain amount of time to notify you of their right to lien the property due to nonpayment. This list includes all sub-contractors, suppliers, and the general contractor himself. Lien releases are not issued by these parties until they are paid, regardless of whether the homeowner has made their payments or not. Subs and suppliers have the right to attach your property if the general contractor does not pay them. Once paid, then they provide lien releases which are then given to the homeowner.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    820

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    one thing i do in my payment schedule, mainly for remodeling projects like kitchens and bathrooms, is to have a punchlist payment. after the job is done and we leave the site, i tell the customers to keep a list over the next 2-3 weeks of things that might need to be fixed, adjusted, touched up, etc.

    after i return for the punch list items, and those items are taken care of, i'll get my last payment which is usually $500.

    this give the customer a sense of comfort that i will return to complete these items and it saves me from the customer calling every few days with a new found issue.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    MLB,

    Keeping RETAINERS is a good practice, and it's a way to make sure your subs complete their jobs. Plus it protects the homeowner, as you mentioned.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,480

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    Quote Originally Posted by MLB Construction View Post
    one thing i do in my payment schedule, mainly for remodeling projects like kitchens and bathrooms, is to have a punchlist payment.
    I really like that idea, well done!
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: The Low Bid Home Remodel Tale

    Great thread, subscribed. What do you guys think of using an architect to act as a project manager? I'm in the process of buying a house that may need $100k worth of work (convert oil to gas, remodel kitchen, remodel 2 baths, new deck, finish basement)

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