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We've had some large projects come across our desk in the last few months that we've turned down more so b/c of "logistics" than our ability to do the work. These projects would have been 25-33% of the previous year's gross sales.

The clients were large contractor groups who we felt would hammer us in paperwork and in the end would not have paid if we would not do things exactly as in the prints. We all know sometimes you have to make on the spot changes on the job site to make something work. This was an assumption atleast b/c of our experience in dealing with some other large contractors. We are subs in the staircase business.

For those who've been involved in similar projects, how have you determined if they're worth getting into? Credit checks? Is it appropriate to ask for references to see what they're like to work with? Usually it would be them asking us for a reference.

Thoughts appreciated.
 

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That's a pretty big jump in production. Experience tells you what you need to look out for when moving up. We could tell you many of the things to look out for but the one we missed is the one that gets you. Jumping from where you are production-wise to jobs of that magnitude will cost you. Jump in production incrementally and you will learn what to look out for.

Take them on and you will swim in extra work and revenues; lose them and it will kill you. They know that and will most likely look for more 'concessions' after a while figuring it's too late for you to say no. At that point, you're toast.
 

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When the size of a project increases, keep in mind that your time will increase, beyond the committed hours on the site, but in planning, additional time to details, and the peripherals increase.

I spend very little time with a basic home, planning or logistics.....when you have done it many times, it is routine. Larger projects will always be unqiue, and every one will have a ton of details and items you have to address, and you have to basically know what you will be into, or you will lose big time.
 

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On the spot changes might be needed but should never be done without getting a change order in writing, even if there is no additional charges by you. Any time you deviate any at all from the plans and/or specifications you need to have the architect involved, regardless of how minor the change is.

By doing this you will transfer any liability of an engineering flaw back to it's proper place and could possibly keep future liabilities away from you. At the end of the job when these "large contractors" don't want to pay you, it will not be from you doing things that were not according to plans that you have change orders for. You may even be able to charge extra for these deviations from the original drawings.

These large general contractors in commercial construction will hammer you to death and not pay you a dime if they feel they can get away with it. It is a huge part of any subcontractors job to protect yourself from this and one of the the best ways to protect yourself is by getting EVERYTHING in writing. Taking on a huge jump in production has to be your call but I sure wouldn't let protection from jobsite changes be what decides that for me. Those details can be taken care of without too much trouble.
 

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The success or failure in the field of commercial really hinges on the relationships you have with the PM. You are either protected and paid, existing harmoniously in a give and take relationship.-----or you are screwed and tossed aside left holding a huge unpaid invoice. G
 

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Contracts do mean something. If you perform the scope of the contract satisfactorily and have the backup to prove it then you will get paid. Relationships help but they are not the only way a person gets paid.

Prepare today for a lawsuit tomorrow. This advice will many times prevent a lawsuit either by or against you.
 

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Contracts do mean something. If you perform the scope of the contract satisfactorily and have the backup to prove it then you will get paid. Relationships help but they are not the only way a person gets paid.

Prepare today for a lawsuit tomorrow. This advice will many times prevent a lawsuit either by or against you.

When the big boys dont want to pay up, you can wipe your ass with your contract. G
 

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Are you Prepared?

The main problem with large commerical project is that they what you to sign there contract. You must have an attorney that clearly understands contract law in the construction area to keep you protected.

Most contractors use attorneys once there in trouble instead of using them first to stay out of trouble.

As long as you do this, I would go after any work. If some general contractor bulks at you using an attorney, RUN!!
 

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Contracts are legal binding documents that will hold up in court, provided you have your backup. That along with lien rights will usually protect you. If you don't do things to cover yourself then yes, you are right but there are ways to protect yourself from even the biggest most underhanded contractor.

Let's look at what a lien does. It files a claim against the owners property and they will want their property free and clear before making final payments to the general contractor, regardless of how big they are. If you filed your lien in accordance with your state laws then the only way they will ever have a free title to their property is with your signature on a lien release. Without this or a huge court battle the lien stays in place and the contractors final payment is either held up or your funding is taken from it.

If the work is a government building like a school there is a McGregor Act claim that can be used in the state of Texas. I am sure there is something similar in other states.

The whole idea of planning today for a lawsuit tomorrow is to prevent this from having to happen. Unless they are fairly sure that you can't win in court they will do what they can but if they think you have sufficient backup they wont push quite as hard.

If you do your part to backup what you have done then they can't just not pay you. Well they can but you don't have to take it.

Even filing bankruptcy wont keep you from getting paid if you do your paperwork. If a job or payments are ever taken over by a bonding company you can bet the only way you will get paid is if you have filed a lien. Even if you are only going to get a percentage of the money owed it will not be done without you having filed a lien.

There are some huge contractors that are mean as hell. They are people that you can't trust for anything. Even these people have to obey laws to stay in business. If you have performed your contract then you have a claim to your money, even if it requires involving the owner. The general contractor doesn't normally own the property being worked on.
 
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