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Contract Question

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Old 12-20-2008, 12:19 PM   #1
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Contract Question

I hope I am not asking a redundant question. I am trying to read all of the past posts, but I am only on page 45. Anywho, How do you guys handle working for GC's or developers that want you to sign "their contract." instead of your own contract. Do you ad addendum's for your protection as well as the general? My brother and I got into this long running discussion over breakfast this morning. However, he is a painting contractor and obviously rules tend to change from trade to trade. He has been around for longer than I have and has been pretty successful, whereas I am just getting started. He claims that the big GC's around here pretty much dictate the rules and make the game in their favor. Also its my opinion that the front end contractors get treated differently than the back end guys. No offense to any trade. I am just posing a question for debate. Would love to hear your thoughts or general opinions.

I do have an instance where this is happening to me. I recently bid on some residual local telephone company work. They stated that they would not pay ANY hourly work. It must be bid. Plus, they wanted one standard bid. Thats crazy. Not all of the right-of-ways are the same. May have frost or rock involved. So many variables. I told them that each and every one should be separately bid. Well, that was last year and no decisions made and the temp drops are still above ground awaiting burial.
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Old 12-20-2008, 02:45 PM   #2
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Re: Contract Question

In regards to blanket "unit pricing", either make your price high enough to cover the difficult jobs and secure amazing profit on the easier stuff-doubtful you will get the job, but whoever does get it on the terms the larger companies are fishing for will likely lose their shirt or do sub-standard work that will cause problems later on. I am just now getting to the point of having the confidence to bid things comfortably, and being OK if I don't get the job. Point being, contract work is steady income, but if it is low income, you might as well be working for someone else. Excavation is one of those trades that has so many unknowns, that bidding off of unit pricing will get you in trouble if it isn't job specific. I love it when people call wanting a linear foot price on a driveway over the phone. My reply is it all depends if I am cutting the top of a mountain off or spreading rock accross an open meadow My feeling is that a lot of bigger companies simply dangle the carrot to see if anyone will bite.....the promise of volume makes a guy think he can still make money, but unless you have lots of equipment and cheap labor, I would think volume is a hard thing to do in Excavation. That is just my opinion, and I don't have much experience with contract work simply because I have never felt I could make much money at it being an owner operator. I do know of guys that seem to do well with the Gas Company, but they are married to the Gas company and do not have much in the way of a client base......meaning the Gas company slows, and their income slows. I feel more and more like people expect too much production with underground work. Digging holes is easy, navigating around existing utilities, setting proper slopes, proper bedding/backfill, etc. etc. take time and it is time well spent. However, alot people rely on out of sight out of mind, and thus they can lowball with sub-standard work. I have been thinking about this alot lately, and I would like to see excavation be more respected as a trade rather than the attitude of "Wow that was more than I expected, I think my brother's girlfriends uncle has a tractor I can borrow instead!!!" We are professionals and should be able to bid as professionals


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Old 12-20-2008, 03:02 PM   #3
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Re: Contract Question

AMEN BROTHER! I hear you on the brother -friends -dad- have a tractor business. I run into that a lot around here.
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:04 PM   #4
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Re: Contract Question

If there are clauses I don't like or feel comfortable with, I will line through them and have the signatory for the GC initial it.

I will also have them sign my proposal/contract which is very simple, ( I will do this work, you will pay this $.)

I am honest and strait forward in all dealings, if they don't want to play, or they want to hide behind a bunch of mumbo jumbo in a contract, then they can get someone else.

I have made multi million $ companies change the wording in an agreement from "removal of all concrete" to "removal of concrete as described below" and then spell it out in definitive terms.

They try and cover their butts, you need to cover yours.
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:24 PM   #5
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Trade: excavating / concrete / masonry
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Re: Contract Question

I'm with Tom on the contract issues. 2 years ago it cost me $3,000.00 in lawyers fees to negotiate the terms in a 17 page contract. If there are terms in a contract you cannot live with you should negotiate them so you can or don't work for the client.

The one price fits all bid isn't a good thing unless you can make a good profit on 75% of them. I don't know the scope of the work you were bidding. If they were $1,000. jobs on average and some might be $500. and expensive one's might be $2,000. you could possibly make money. Not all utilities are looking for lowest bidder. Some we worked for wanted reliability more than price.

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