Great Price!?….Pay Twice.
Time and time, again, I run into prospective customers, which, never seem to learn. So, I am writing this article, as a reminder or a lesson. I hope it helps you…
I love Stephen Covey’s mantra, “Fast is slow”. I would like to add, “Cheap is expensive”. Typically, you can have one or two of three things, when making a purchase. Those three things are: quality, speed, low price. As a contractor, I get to meet with many clients, while, I get to see the problems they’re having with the previous choices they’ve made or the service or product they received. Certainly, it is not true, that the highest price always gets you the best product and/or the best service. However, when you’re shopping for any kind of home improvements or products, I will remind you, typically, you will get what you pay for. Strongly, I recommend, you should do a little research, online, about the improvements that you are considering or needing, to figure out what a reasonable budget for your project should be, before you beckon contractors for estimates. This will prepare you to make better decisions, as you are meeting with contractors and getting estimates.
Always, make sure you have some sort of third-party references, whether they be online reviews from verified purchasers, or checking with the Better Business Bureau, to see if they have complaints about a company, etc.
As well, find out from your local building department, if your work will require a permit. Plans and permits cost money and they add to the cost of the job. If you’re not hiring an interior designer, you should be able to get plans and permits between 3% and 10% (depending on the sort of plans required) in addition to the cost of the project. But, be sure to figure that into your numbers, when you are creating your budget. Doing work without required permits is becoming more and more of a grave mistake, as insurance companies and banks bare down on owners about signing affidavits stating that all of the work has been done with proper building permits. You don’t want to find yourself in a lawsuit, years after you have sold a property. Attorneys are making plenty of money with this, already. For your information, I’ve seen it take anywhere from three days to 10 months for plans to get a final approval with a building permit in hand. Many things play in to how long it will take to get your plans and permit approved. You must factor this into your schedule.
Make sure you are hiring the proper professional. Make sure you are hiring someone that is going to watch out for your best interests, as the job is in progress. It is true, cheap, inexperienced contractors cut corners and work, carelessly. I’ve found them to be using inappropriate or cheap tools, materials and equipment to get the job done, leaving a huge extra mess or an unacceptable final product, all the while, rushing through the job, because, they priced it so low. That means, they are not taking the proper steps to complete your job, correctly, and they are taking chances to damage other people’s property and/or themselves, without insurances in place! I have never met an owner that wanted an injured worker on their property.
Don’t surprise-rush your contractor to completion. Nine times, out of ten, this will result in a poor ending to your project. If you’ve made a mistake or an oversight about how long your project will take, start to finish, or you have waited too long to get a project started, don’t try to push that onto your contractor. Probably, it won’t work. It will end with lots of stress and drama, that nobody wants or needs. Be reasonable. Listen to your contractor’s honest opinion about schedule, do your research, and come up with an amicably agreeable amount of time for the project to be completed. Also, think about what project you want to do, if it’s a long or short-term project, and what time of year it is, regarding the weather. If the weather could or is likely to play a horrible and negative affect on your project, wait.
Did you know, contractors aren’t allowed to take more than 33% of the total project price as a deposit? Be sure to have a proper agreement, in writing, spelling out what the scope of work is, the total price, and when the deposit and subsequent drawls will be due. Do not be late with your drawl payments and do not let your contractor talk you into making any payments, early. If you want extra work done or need a change order or extra work, make sure you have something in writing with a price. Personally, I require customers to pay for extra work orders, upfront, before I do any of that work. In my agreement, I make it clear, that certain email addresses are an acceptable and legally binding form of communication for extra work orders or change orders, etc.
No matter who you hire, be prepared for things to go wrong, large or small… it’s inevitable. Then, don’t freak out. Have some confidence in your research and the person you hired. If you hire the right contractor, they will remedy the problems, professionally. If they haven’t been to your job site, recently, and you think they should be, tell them. Between Maryland and Florida, I’ve been a licensed contractor for 20 years. Do what I do, when you hire a contractor, make sure that they have obtained the proper license and insurances for their trade. This includes workers comp for the workers. Don’t let them fast talk you. Somehow, they can and should have WC for the workers… even if it is expensive… and it is expensive. Employee leasing is a great option, if they don’t want or can’t have their own, standing WC policy. If they don’t have WC on the workers, stop work and find a replacement that does. As well, I make sure that certain trades have third-party training or certifications and affiliations, to help ensure that they are going to do a perfect and professional job for my customer. You can begin this process by checking a company’s license with the DBPR. Strongly, I recommend that you make sure you do not do business with someone that is using someone else’s license, with or without permission, to operate or to pull a permit. There’s a reason they don’t have a license, themselves.
Finally, if you are hiring a general contractor for a large project; remember, they have to put up with and handle and pay for all of the things I’ve written about, in this article, times twenty (or more). It ain’t easy!! Honestly, I think most good contractors don’t get paid the money they deserve. It is a massive, stressful headache of a job, ending with lots of liability and responsibility for the project they’ve completed. I think customers need to be reasonably patient, understanding and empathetic of their contractor’s position. It’s a two-way street; customers need good contractors, and contractors need good customers. After you find a good contractor, be a good customer.
Remember…Be careful about how thrifty you are…
“Great Price?!…Pay Twice.”
Kraft Built, Inc.