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Author: HomeMoaner Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 128074  
Subject: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 12:16 PM
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If you're a contractor, and you are coming to my house to bid on an 800 sq. ft. 2nd floor addition, I am going to assume that you are at least mildly interested in the job and looking for work. With that in mind:

* Show up on time. If we set an appointment for 8 a.m., show up or call. Thank you for calling at 9:30. Luckily our schedules permitted your coming to my house that evening instead. Give me some other excuse other than "my office assistant just quit." There is potential there for me to assume that she quit because she doesn't like working for you. If your employees don't want to work for you, why would I want you working for me?

* Do not complain about your current clients to a prospective client. That makes me think you will complain about me in the future. If you do complain about them, it is valuable information to me as to how you solved your problem with them. Do not wave it off as a personal issue.

* When I point out on the plans that the support for the second floor will involve verifying if we have a thickened slab under a supporting wall, do not say "I can guarantee that you don't." You don't know that. There very well may be a thickened slab to support the concrete block walls we have. You don't know they're blocks because you haven't asked, knocked on them, or measured.

* When I ask you for the names of a couple of your suppliers to check your credit, do not refuse and belligerently ask me if you can check my credit. Because I'll let you and tell you so; I have no secrets.

* Look in the attic where the addition is to go. At least pretend to care.

* Act like you like your job. So far I see no indication that you do, and that you consider homeowners to be an intrusion. It is my house, dude. I care about your workmanship a lot more than you do, apparently. Do not *sigh* every time I ask you a question, 'cuz it tells me you'd be doing a lot of sighing for the next five months if we hired you.

* I will give you as much information as I can. We have already chosen our windows, trim, tub, toilet, sink, vanity, tile, and faucets. I am about to zero in on the flooring. I spent two nights recalling the week in my college scenic design course when we transferred floor plans into 2-point perspective drawings so I could generate a bathroom tile plan. We are cocked, locked and ready to rock. Do not disparage the bid process by calling it "useless" and saying it's "impossible to compare" bids because everybody puts in different allowances. It is not useless; I am about to hand over more money than I will make in three years, and I have my contractor-comparison spreadsheet already designed.

* When I inform you that I will paint, both exterior and interior, do not look at me and ask, "If you bought a car, would you buy everything but the tires and transmission?" This is not a car. The extra $10K you say that I would save is enough to buy a car. That is not chump change.

* If I ask you, "how do you think you'd tackle this job?", don't give me a flip answer about how you'd "just tear the roof off." Would you deck, frame, roof and side half of the addition, then take off the other half of the existing roof and do the same? Or all at once? How about the stairs - would they go in first or last? What about closing off sections of the house to keep the dust down? Think a little bit and give me a reasoned answer.

* It is your right to ask me what our budget is. It is also my right to tell you that right now, our meetings with contractors are more about choosing somebody who we are comfortable having in our house for many months than about the money. It will cost what it costs. That's why we're interviewing several contractors and soliciting several bids, to find a good balance. If you don't understand this, that's a shame.

* As we walk around the exterior, don't tell me the house would look great with architectural shingles instead of the current 3-tab shingles. When I tell you they are already architectural shingles, don't tell me, "No, you have 3-tab shingles." Now you just look like an idiot.

Sorry, had to vent before I called to tell him I don't think we'll be requiring his services, and I hope he appreciates the professional courtesy of calling him before he wastes any serious time putting a bid together. But not likely.

"It's not you, it's me."
HM!
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Author: Wingenit Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49093 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 12:29 PM
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This was all ONE guy? I thought you had gathered up experiences from several during the bidding. Sheesh! You should send him a letter that includes the text of this post.


Wingenit

PS -- don't forget to ask them about past jobs/clients in the area that you could go look at & talk to about the kind of job they did.

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Author: anniesdad Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49094 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 1:04 PM
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* When I point out on the plans that the support for the second floor will involve verifying if we have a thickened slab under a supporting wall, do not say "I can guarantee that you don't." You don't know that. There very well may be a thickened slab to support the concrete block walls we have. You don't know they're blocks because you haven't asked, knocked on them, or measured.


HM,

I'll bet you a weeks pay that you have a thickened slab under a supporting wall. That's building 101, that's written in stone.

The guy is not cool.

Scott


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Author: hereandnow Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49095 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 1:10 PM
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I'm impressed that you finished the conversation. I don't see that level of courtesy much these days. :)

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Author: HomeMoaner Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49099 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 2:46 PM
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You should send him a letter that includes the text of this post.

I would, if I thought it would do any good.

don't forget to ask them about past jobs/clients in the area

I didn't even bother, this time. I also didn't bother asking him my deal-breaking question. ("Do you mind if I help?") :)

I'll bet you a weeks pay that you have a thickened slab under a supporting wall.

I sure hope so, but it wouldn't be so bad to dig a big hole in the floor and pour concrete. The floor's parquet, it'd go back in easy.

I'm impressed that you finished the conversation. I don't see that level of courtesy much these days. :)

I am ashamed to say that it became somewhat fun to just keep feeding him rope. :)

Man, what a downer!
HM!
(glad he got the voicemail)


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Author: fleg9bo Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49102 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 3:16 PM
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I didn't even bother, this time. I also didn't bother asking him my deal-breaking question. ("Do you mind if I help?") :)

Couldn't a contractor have liability insurance issues if you helped?

Just curious.

--fleg


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Author: HomeMoaner Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49103 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 3:42 PM
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Couldn't a contractor have liability insurance issues if you helped?

yup. so that really leaves it up to them; if it's a problem, I won't. if it isn't, I can:
* sweep up
* carry stuff
* hold the dumb end of the tape measure

stuff like that. hard-core jobs, leave to them, stay out of their way, and don't use their tools. easy stuff I can tackle. my rationale is that I'd rather have them hang the drywall than sweep up the dust.

we'll come to some agreement. besides, they might charge extra if I help. :)

HM!


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Author: nutsandbolts Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49104 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 4:06 PM
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HM it's time for you to go down to the corner to meet Joe and see if he can make you "happy" <grin>

N&B

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Author: khaar Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49122 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 10:37 PM
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Couldn't a contractor have liability insurance issues if you helped?

Absolutely! But from a homeowner's point of view, it's a reasonable question--they don't know all the ins and outs of a particular contractor's business. And from the contractor's side, a quick, simple explanation along the lines of "my insurance guy has advised me that, aside from having a client do [basic gopher stuff], I could get into some liability issues if...." A reasonable client will not have a problem with this. And if the potential client does have a problem, the contractor probably doesn't want to work with them anyway.

Kathleen

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Author: DuckVersion8 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49124 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/9/2004 11:00 PM
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Give me a few minutes and I'll compare your list to Fred The Illegal Builder.

Duck


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Author: MunkeeNutz Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49154 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/10/2004 8:56 PM
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* I will give you as much information as I can. We have already chosen our windows, trim, tub, toilet, sink, vanity, tile, and faucets. I am about to zero in on the flooring. I spent two nights recalling the week in my college scenic design course when we transferred floor plans into 2-point perspective drawings so I could generate a bathroom tile plan. We are cocked, locked and ready to rock. Do not disparage the bid process by calling it "useless" and saying it's "impossible to compare" bids because everybody puts in different allowances. It is not useless; I am about to hand over more money than I will make in three years, and I have my contractor-comparison spreadsheet already designed.

* When I inform you that I will paint, both exterior and interior, do not look at me and ask, "If you bought a car, would you buy everything but the tires and transmission?" This is not a car. The extra $10K you say that I would save is enough to buy a car. That is not chump change.

* If I ask you, "how do you think you'd tackle this job?", don't give me a flip answer about how you'd "just tear the roof off." Would you deck, frame, roof and side half of the addition, then take off the other half of the existing roof and do the same? Or all at once? How about the stairs - would they go in first or last? What about closing off sections of the house to keep the dust down? Think a little bit and give me a reasoned answer.

* It is your right to ask me what our budget is. It is also my right to tell you that right now, our meetings with contractors are more about choosing somebody who we are comfortable having in our house for many months than about the money. It will cost what it costs. That's why we're interviewing several contractors and soliciting several bids, to find a good balance. If you don't understand this, that's a shame.

HomeMoaner

*************************

I like your screen name. Your post was good, but I hope you won't get too mad if I might suggest you have a wee chip on your shoulder?

It sounds like you are wound up too tight over this.

It seems to me that I would probably want to talk with my contractor (whoever that ends up being) about things like what type of fixtures, materials, trims, finishes, etc. BEFORE making the final selection. At least on a big job like this seems to be. I.e. you must be adding a floor or something like that.

I think if you find a contractor that you trust, they might have some good ideas that could stretch your dollars a little farther and might be esthetically just as pleasing as what you have selected.

Although painting yourself can save a lot of money, I can also see the contractor's point of view on this. In bidding on an entire job, maybe the painting represents a larger portion of the profits for the contractor (maybe not--I have no idea). Also, have you thought about how big a job a $10000 interior and exterior paint job is? Not to say you shouldn't do it yourself, but believe it or not, part of the contractor's job is to keep you from making a mistake.

I'm an attorney, and if a client asked me at trial, "Hey can I give the closing argument?" I would have to tell him to stuff it up his waste stack (so to speak).

It seems to me if you're looking for a "professional", you would actually want someone who would question you about your predetermined notions.

In terms of working with the contractor, i.e. as a homeowner, I probably wouldn't trust any contractor who would be willing to let me do anything more than basic clean-up chores or real grunt work.

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Author: HomeMoaner Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49156 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/10/2004 11:31 PM
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Your post was good, but I hope you won't get too mad if I might suggest you have a wee chip on your shoulder? It sounds like you are wound up too tight over this.

I can see how it would read that way! I didn't write about the very pleasant meetings I had with other contractors, because that's boring. You'll just have to believe me when I tell you that I was chipless before I met this guy, but the several red flags he threw up and the negative tone of the interview somehow got under my skin.

I think if you find a contractor that you trust, they might have some good ideas that could stretch your dollars a little farther...

I sure hope so. I'd rather go into those meetings prepared, though. We've done a lot of research on products in an effort to choose something affordable we like. (Here's our averagely-priced tub: http://www.fixturesdirect.com/display.cfm?productid=K-1183&finish=White&manufacturer=Kohler .) Manufacturers' websites have been great for that, and they make it easy to compare MSRPs, and nothing's final until it's in the contract anyway. Plus, we've got so much else going on that I'd rather try to get the biggest decisions out of the way first so I don't have to worry about them later. There will be plenty of other stuff to worry about.

Also, have you thought about how big a job a $10000 interior and exterior paint job is?

Trust me, I've thought about it and thought about it and thought about it. I'm well aware of my own limitations (I'm horrible at drywall and wouldn't dream of having this be my first plumbing job), and I respect contractors' questioning me about my abilities. What I don't respect is the assumption that because I'm not in the same line of work as them, I can't know what I want or how to do it. Which is what I got in the interview. For all this guy knew, I could've performed the restoration on the Sistine Chapel. Besides, $10K is WAY too high for our painting job, believe me.

I'm an attorney, and if a client asked me at trial, "Hey can I give the closing argument?" I would have to tell him to stuff it up his waste stack (so to speak).

What if he could have done it better than you? You don't know unless you talk about it. And he's already your client; I'm not anybody's client yet.

I probably wouldn't trust any contractor who would be willing to let me do anything more than basic clean-up chores or real grunt work.

Fine by me! I am also available to make emergency runs to Home Depot!

not mad,
HM!

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Author: anniesdad Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49157 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/11/2004 8:33 AM
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HM,

Have you considered acting as your own general? There are basically six trades involved here, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, drywall hangers and roofers and all hired on a time and material basis. The carpenters will be your de facto general as they are the only trade with a grasp of the entire project.

Reading and understanding plans is not that difficult and once you have a thorough understanding of the two main elements (structural and mechanical) and actually see them evolve in three dimension the process really becomes quite simple.

Also there is software that will will help you take off the materials.

Scott

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Author: nutsandbolts Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49158 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/11/2004 9:58 AM
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HM:
Just a few comments:
I agree with Scott concerning being your own contractor if you are knowledgable enough to tackle a task such as this. Another possibility is a cost-plus....which allows you to do part of the work.
One thing to consider is whether you will be able to withstand the stress of this job. I mention this because of the way I interpret your post.

My thinking is that when a person is knowledgable about the job he has to do there is little stress because he/she knows how to resolve problems that go awry. Things will go awry, trust me. There is no such thing as a perfect house. Also, your personality has a lot to do with your success.
1. Do you have good communication skills?
2. Are you good at organizing and scheduling?
3. Do you really have the time? Are you presently employed and want to do the extras on the weekend? This could possibly delay or interfere with a contractor's schedule. It is Monday, and painting needs done but you cannot get to it until the weekend.

Dealing with people is not always easy but can be very rewarding if you have the right attitude. You will not want to have legal battles in the end. I am alarmed when I see how many recs are given to someone who blasts builders. Of course, you never know how many happy homeowners there are, because they do not post about their successes.

Good Luck, I didn't mean to be a smart a$$ when I suggested you meet Joe on the corner....only responding to your post to me which I really enjoyed.

Brooks











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Author: HomeMoaner Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49159 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/11/2004 10:48 AM
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I agree with Scott concerning being your own contractor if you are knowledgable enough to tackle a task such as this. Another possibility is a cost-plus....which allows you to do part of the work.

See, that's it...I'm not knowledgable enough about the WHOLE project, just parts of it. And I couldn't be my own GC anyway because of the time & pressures involved. And all of the other contractors have come up with several good ideas that'd make everything go smoother. I wouldn't have had those ideas. I feel like with the right GC, this will be a great learning experience for me.

I have a feeling that what might happen is to have the permits pulled in my name, have the GC get up through the drywall, and leave the finishing work to me. If that works out for them, that is. Then I could burn off some of my 240 hours of annual leave before I get into a use-or-lose situation!

I am alarmed when I see how many recs are given to someone who blasts builders.

Me too. It's like when people blast truckers, when almost everything you own was delivered to you by truck. I wasn't disparaging builders in general, just this ONE builder. It looks like I touched a nerve, and that a lot of people have had an experience like this, whether with builders or some other profession.

Good Luck, I didn't mean to be a smart a$$ when I suggested you meet Joe on the corner....

I feel like people should be smarta$$es more often. You be a smarta$$, I'll be a wisea$$. :P

HM!

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Author: nutsandbolts Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49160 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/11/2004 11:33 AM
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<<<I have a feeling that what might happen is to have the permits pulled in my name, have the GC get up through the drywall, and leave the finishing work to me. If that works out for them, that is. Then I could burn off some of my 240 hours of annual leave before I get into a use-or-lose situation!>>>

Sounds good to me. A little tip: I do not know how good a trim carpenter you are but it sure makes a difference in the final appearance. With the proper tools and if there is nothing unusual, you should be able to handle it.
Anything you need help with you can approach your GC about, and I am sure he will be glad to help you. Reputable contractors understand that one tries to save where they can.
While he is framing and reaching the drywall period you can be researching and thinking about the finishing needs. It is a good idea to be at the job site as the construction is underway and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you think something is out of kilter be sure to aproach the GC about it and not the subs.

There is lots to learn but when you are willing it is an enjoyable experience. That is if you don't get into a knock down, drag out fight before it's over. <grin>

Good luck, HM

Brooks


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Author: lowellches Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49171 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/11/2004 11:05 PM
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Also there is software that will will help you take off the materials.

Scott
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


where? what cost?


L

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Author: anniesdad Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49180 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/12/2004 7:15 AM
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Also there is software that will will help you take off the materials.

Scott
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


where? what cost?


L,
This is but one example. http://www.buildingsense.com/construction_management/index.htm
There are a lot more.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=home+building+materials+take+off+softwear&btnG=Google+Search

Scott







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Author: HELJinCT One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49181 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/12/2004 7:18 AM
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* Show up on time.

Most contractors and construction workers have a tendency of working a fly-by-the-seat of your pants schedule. I am an interesting hybrid myself. My father runs a successful mason contracting company (and has since I was a child - I am now 29). I work a white collar job as a software architect. I spent my Summers working construction up until about 22, when I got out of college.

I can tell you this: Despite being very successful and skilled at what he does, he is regularly late (and sometimes even misses appointments like yours entirely). Construction is completely unpredictable and can be wildly hectic in the Spring/Summer months.

It's your choice to make a judgement call based on a person's tardiness to a quote appointment, of course. I'm just telling you that it's the norm, not an exception. Also, expect whatever estimated date you recieve NOT to be met. Expect the budget to be exceeded also.

I know it's tough for people in standard 9-5 jobs (like myself) who are forced to meet deadlines, show up on time EVERY day, etc, but that is the reality in construction. Most construction workers end up in construction FOR A REASON. They don't do well with clocks, calendars, dates, etc. They like to work with their hands, live for the day, and so forth.

If your employees don't want to work for you, why would I want you working for me?

It is typical that something like 90% of hired labor help in the construction business is generally unhappy with their jobs. The 10% that ARE happy usually end up being contractors themselves.

* When I ask you for the names of a couple of your suppliers to check your credit, do not refuse and belligerently ask me if you can check my credit. Because I'll let you and tell you so; I have no secrets.

In all honesty, this is completely off the wall and somewhat invasive. My father's credit is horrendously bad, ESPECIALLY with his suppliers. He's been running his own business for 25 years and his credit with suppliers is STILL horrible. It's the nature of the business and is common with many contractors. In fact, 90% of the credit problems the contractor has are the direct result of financial failure on the part of the homeowner or builder (late payments, NO payments, etc). In fact, I got somewhat of a chuckle out of the fact that he thought it was more appropriate that YOU submit YOUR credit.

Honestly, his credit and credit with his suppliers is technically none of your business, since he is not obligated to pay you in any deal. You, on the other hand, could be a source of grief for him if you cannot pay.

Honestly, as a white collar worker, I can tell you that your question was bordering on being out of line. As a contractor, I would have simple said to you:

"Honestly sir/mam, my credit is absolutely none of your business, and that is how it will stay. If you want reassurance about my ability to get a job done, there are several things we can do. I can give you a list of homeowners/contractors that are references. Optionally, you can purchase all of the materials yourself and I will provide labor only."

When you asked about his credit, you probably hit a sore spot (and probably would with most contractors).

He has no need to check your credit either, since most contractors will do jobs piece by piece and get paid in progress payments. If you don't pay, they walk off the job without losing too much.

* Act like you like your job. So far I see no indication that you do, and that you consider homeowners to be an intrusion. It is my house, dude. I care about your workmanship a lot more than you do, apparently. Do not *sigh* every time I ask you a question, 'cuz it tells me you'd be doing a lot of sighing for the next five months if we hired you.

Agree with you here. That isn't a good sign. Any good craftsman should be somewhat interested in their craft.

* I will give you as much information as I can. We have already chosen our windows, trim, tub, toilet, sink, vanity, tile, and faucets. I am about to zero in on the flooring. I spent two nights recalling the week in my college scenic design course when we transferred floor plans into 2-point perspective drawings so I could generate a bathroom tile plan. We are cocked, locked and ready to rock. Do not disparage the bid process by calling it "useless" and saying it's "impossible to compare" bids because everybody puts in different allowances. It is not useless; I am about to hand over more money than I will make in three years, and I have my contractor-comparison spreadsheet already designed.

Actually, bids usually are useless, and awarding the job to the lowest bidder is hardly a rational decision. Your choice should be based on the integrity of the contractor's references, how thorough their quote and spec is, your feel for the contractor's willingness to get the job done right, etc. Sounds like this person will come up short in many of those things.

* It is your right to ask me what our budget is. It is also my right to tell you that right now, our meetings with contractors are more about choosing somebody who we are comfortable having in our house for many months than about the money. It will cost what it costs. That's why we're interviewing several contractors and soliciting several bids, to find a good balance. If you don't understand this, that's a shame.

The right way to go.

Overall, you sound like you are in the right, but you did say a few things that sounded way too over the top at first. The biggest mistake(s) this contractor made was being socially retarded in the sales process.

My father's credit stinks. His schedule is horrendous and he actually FORGETS appointments regularly (and has for 25 years), but he does a grade A job, all of his clients love him, he's passionate about his work, very charming, understanding, gives the extra effort, etc etc. He understands that these are people's homes and mean everything to them. Also, all of his employees hate their jobs (its par for the course in construction), but they all like him as their boss.

I just was a bit sensitive to the 'credit' question, as well as the being late question, since I can honestly say that neither have an impact on the quality of work you will get in the end.

Like I said, sounds like this contractor failed to communicate in the right tone about these things. He should have been apologetic and embarassed about being late. He should have been more deflective and less insulted about the credit check question.

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Author: georgepurcell One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49187 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/12/2004 11:24 AM
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"Honestly, his credit and credit with his suppliers is technically none of your business, since he is not obligated to pay you in any deal. You, on the other hand, could be a source of grief for him if you cannot pay."

Sorry, his credit IS the homeowners, business...unless you feel that having a contractor go belly-up and leave a job half done would have no effect on the homeowner.


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Author: GameMaker Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49191 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/12/2004 1:02 PM
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Honestly, his credit and credit with his suppliers is technically none of your business, since he is not obligated to pay you in any deal. You, on the other hand, could be a source of grief for him if you cannot pay.

I agree with you that the homeowner could be a source of grief by not paying. That's obvious.

However, with all due respect, I feel you're dead wrong on the homeowner having no right to check up on a contractor's credit. In fact, at two separate classes I attended recently at a Home and Garden show (big whoop, I know), BOTH lecturers from unrelated fields, both discussing the things to do before hiring a contractor, pointed out that the checking the contractor's credit with suppliers was a very important step.

You see, while the contractor is not obligated to pay the client in any deal, he IS obligated to pay the supplier. And if he doesn't, the homeowner is left with a problem. A big one. So it is DEFINITELY in the homeowner's interest to check the contractor's credit with suppliers.

See, here in CA anyway, if a supplier is not paid, he is able to go after the homeowner - the recipient of the materials, not the installer! - for payment. EVEN IF THE HOMEOWNER HAS DOCUMENTED PROOF THAT HE PAID THE CONTRACTOR. In other words, if the money isn't getting to the supplier, then you're S.O.L.

So when I hire a contractor, you're damned right I'm going to ask what suppliers think of his payment history. Sorry, I call it C'ing my A. When it comes to business, sometimes you have to ask questions that might otherwise border on the personal. But in this case, you're not asking about the person's INDIVIDUAL credit, but their BUSINESS credit - how likely is this business to fail to forward my payment, and therefore leave me holding the bag?

This is why both lecturers also strongly encouraged writing in the delivery of a Release of Lien as part of the contract. Which means in the end, when all the work is done, part of the delivery from contractor to client is a piece of paper that says "You're officially released from liability - the supplier has been paid."

My $.02

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Author: nutsandbolts Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49211 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/12/2004 9:50 PM
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HELJinCT:

I wish to make a statement and then defend your father.

Yes, the homeowner should feel comfortable and SHOULD ask for a credit reference. However, let's look at the issue as a whole.
I have always paid my debts at the end of each month....so I have a good credit reference.
Now, you say; "My father's credit stinks." However, if it was so bad the suppliers would not extend credit at all and he would be put on C.O.D. Many contractors spread their payments 60,90,even 120 days. To you this is a bad credit rating. But to the suppliers, it will depend on his history of finally paying. If he has been in business 25 years, it tells me he finally pays his bills and that is what counts.

My spouse was a credit Mgr. and one contract for cement, could mean millions on a road paving job. He looks at the history as a whole. The goverment is 'slow pay' as an example so he would take this into account when he extended credit.

I would hire your father. 'Grade A' work is most important to me. Good communication skills...means a lot to me. Slow...I am not in a big hurry but many people are on a time limit. I could resolve the problem by buying the material myself and having it delivered to the site.

Not showing up is an irritant to me, but not if you call and let me know you cannot make it. I do not even require a reason..that is your business. "I am sorry but I cannot make it today, something has come up but I will be there on such and such a date is quite OK for me".

You are too hard on your dad. Its damned hard work 'wearing the apron' as you already know. Please give him some slack! Look for the fine qualities he has and overlook his weaknesses. Just think, in not too many more years your children will be judging you and you will appreciate some understanding.

HELJinCT, I am a parent and a senior citizen and I just felt the need to defend a carpenter that has worked hard all his life. Carpentry and Parenting are both pretty tough jobs. Your experience during the Summer will be extremely valuable to you in the future and I admire you for for being industrious....many students lounge around on the beach and waste their time on frivilous activities.
My dad once said to me "work makes life sweet" (in German but I cannot spell it in German) and I thought he was nuts at the time. But, you know what, I learned that he was absolutely correct. When you enjoy what you do it's not really work.

Welcome to the board and I look forward to your posts. I like to read post with opinions different from mine. Its educational to get another perspective.

Brooks







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Author: WuLong Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 49294 of 128074
Subject: Re: What NOT to do if you're a contractor. Date: 4/14/2004 4:58 PM
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Honestly, his credit and credit with his suppliers is technically none of your business

You are so wrong. Are you aware of mechanic's leins?
A claim against real estate made by a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier of building materials who contributed to improvements built on the real estate. A mechanics lien, if enforced, permits the party who filed the claim to force a sale of the real estate to pay the claim. http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/m022.htm

Under no circumstances would I do a large project (3 years income) with a contractor who was a potential credit risk. Paying twice at that level is just not an option.

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