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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I need your help.

I am a property manager and I have a new contractor that has done some recent work for me. The quality of his work is excellent. I'm extremely impressed. His attention to detail is amazing. For example, he'll tell his guys to rehang doors several times until it's exactly perfect. He'll have his guys take down tile work and start all over if it doesn't perfectly line up. Basically, I love this guy.

I seriously want to go into business with this guy. I would provide the financing/admin and he could do the construction. But, there is a big problem. Although he's done this for about 5 years, he started out as a handyman and so he doesn't have any formal training. He lacks knowledge of the fundamentals. Things like when to use a vapor barrior. When to use blue board, green board, etc .

Can you guys suggest a course of training for him? I was intending to take some trade school classes. Do you think he should attend these classes? Or, should he apprentice at a larger company? (He has his own company right now and he does small renovations.)

What do you guys think?
 

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For example, he'll tell his guys to rehang doors several times until it's exactly perfect. He'll have his guys take down tile work and start all over if it doesn't perfectly line up. Basically, I love this guy.

Perfection is great as an end result. Rehanging doors and resetting tile increases production time by at least 2x's. AKA twice the labor costs... very poor business model to invest in. Just my opinion though.
 

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I agree with the rehanging and maybe over pursuit of perfection. However, I know I also had alot of trial and error in my path to production perfection as well!

Finding somebody who takes pride in the finished product is just as difficult as finding somebody who is CAPABLE of providing the finished product. If he truly takes interest in this, and you have the funds to take a risk, why not invest and either hire somebody with proper credentials or guide him yourself if you are capable? There is no class that is going to teach all the fine details. However, I have no doubt somebody that passionate about his performance will learn and apply the necessary methods quickly.
 

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The builder means well but start with a clear plan. Speed comes with time. Products and techniques are constantly changing. If you like this builder than keep him and make one day a week dedicated to advancing technique. Be patient.
 

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He isnt qualified to be part of a house remodeling company or building contracting. He can barely lay tile for profit.
 

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Although it is admirable to fix mistakes, since a sad number do not, it is not at all acceptable for errors being so frequent you becone known for doing work twice to get it right. If his "do it nice cause we do it twice" is indeed that noticeable, it's a problem and a bad investment.

Taking pride in work and having the integrity to fix mistakes is only part of the vital ingredients to be successful. It is also vital not to eff things up so often you are known for doing things twice or three o times etc.

A total package takes pride, does it right nearly 100% with a very unnoticeable, infrequent error and fix without fanfare.

Not a good investment in IMO.

I wouldn't invest in someone that can't so it right the first time.
 

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Joseph A. Capece
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I agree with the others. I also find it odd that he's been doing it five years, owns his own business, but doesn't know the basics? How does he do these renovations without knowing the basics? Couple red flags you've got thar.
 

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Sorry to say..... "well intentioned" is a necessary condition of a good pertner/employee.....BUT it not a "sufficient" condition.

Hard fact of business.... often occurs in family operations also.

Good luck.... but as Center says, bunch of red flags to a successfull business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm surprised so many people here are so hard on this guy. Especially since almost everyone had to start at the bottom. But, I also know you guys are well-intentioned - you don't want me to lose a lot of money on the wrong guy. I appreciate your concerns. Thanks.

But, hopefully, some of you guys can come up with some suggestions on what I can do here.

His pursuit of perfection is a great personality trait but it's also his downfall. As many of you guys suspected, he has to make sure every tiny detail is absolutely perfect and this slows him down incredibly. At the same time, he charges the least among his competitors. This is a recipe for a business that has literally tons of perfect reviews online but his business is barely treading water. He's always busy every single day but barely makes enough for himself. He works from sun up to sun down, 6 days a week but can't afford to buy another van and tools for himself.

I would love to go into business with this person. But, I agree with you guys. His business model doesn't work and I've told him that he needs to increase his prices by 50% and slash his work time by 50%. But, he's afraid if he increases his prices, he won't have back to back jobs which scares him. And, he's afraid to cut on his quality because this is what has gained him back to back work. But, he admits that he can't keep this up. He's just running in circles right now.

But, forgetting his prices for a second, I know that he first needs to learn the basics. He just doesn't have the requisite knowledge right now. He started his business doing small handyman jobs like fixing walls and doors. If he didn't know something, he would call his many other contractor friends and ask them how to do it. Basically, no formal training so he has wide gaps in his knowledge. In 5 years, he's come up from small jobs to complete demo/renovation jobs of kitchens and bathrooms.
Not only is he extremely hard working and detail oriented, he's very trustworthy. I've hired him on one small project already and I can completely trust him. He'll go out of the way to make sure to reimburse anything he might have not spent. He's truly a once in a lifetime partner. I am confident that once he learns how to do it the right way, he'll be incredible. And, I'm willing to invest the time and money into him.

Just thinking off the top of my head, I was going to encourage him to increase his prices which will lighten his workload but still allow him to get the same revenue. I would invest perhaps $50k for a small stake in his business. But, in exchange, he will have to learn how to do things the right way.

The question is how can he learn to do it the right away? Perhaps, go to trade school in the evenings after work. Or, should I encourage him temporarily close his business and apprentice at a larger construction company? Perhaps, for the next 1-2 years, he'll be training and eventually, after taking a construction management class, he can partner with me on ground up house construction.

Any helpful suggestions?
 

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Didnt read, wall of text. We are hard on him because you were going to go in biz with him and he isnt efficient and quick.

Go ahead, muddle through whatever it is you want to do.

and then come by and tell us with decades and decades of running a business under our belt how you made out....
 

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I'm surprised so many people here are so hard on this guy. Especially since almost everyone had to start at the bottom. But, I also know you guys are well-intentioned - you don't want me to lose a lot of money on the wrong guy. I appreciate your concerns. Thanks.


Starting out at the bottom, yes sir. As a hand. Not a contractor.

I honestly dont know how to tell you to train someone who works for themselves.

I will say I wouldnt invest money into a business I didnt expect to see a return on very quickly. Not in a few years. Too volitile.
 

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PaintWP.... I really do respect your attitude and desire to help your respected well intentioned friend.

In a sense, it sounds like your friend is an honest perfectionist... an admirable quality.... but it has to be tempered with efficiency, at least in business... and I'm not sure trade school can teach that.

(I'm sure not Dr Phil, but maybe help him find a quality oriented, repetitive, specialization that he can learn and be profecient/efficient in one specializtion..... maybe high end crown install, or cabinet install,... where his perfectionist personality can shine.)

Just an idea..... building a home from from the ground-up sounds pretty challenging for him.

There is a market for production building and there is a different market for high end perfection finish.... sounds to me like he needs to find the later specialization.
 

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Joseph A. Capece
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Slow but perfect work will limit you to only super high end projects in the $1 million+ range. In which case, you would want him as an employee, not a business partner. If he has little practical knowledge, and bad business sense, why would you ever want him as a business partner?

I'm still curious as to how is he doing major kitchen & bathroom remodels with little practical knowledge? How are these projects 1 yr later? Tiles cracking? Windows leaking? mold/mildew in wall cavities?
 

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it seems to me like you are the guy that you are describing; & you are hiding behind this "property manager" character to fish for answers to your questions here-
if so, no need to do that-
some here will give you good advice;
some will try to make you look foolish-
either way, fishy post-
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
He's not that bad

I think you and others are misinterpreting my post. I didn't say he had little practical knowledge. I guess it seemed that way from my post. He's actually knows a considerable deal. He wouldn't have an independent business with a crew of 4. On review websites, he's got a perfect record.

I am a property manager for commercial buildings. I guess I'm kind of a perfectionist and I expect the people who work with to be technically proficient at what they do. This guy isn't.

I want to help this guy and eventually, hopefully, he can help me.

I guess my question is, how did you guys all get started? What can he do to start learning the basics of construction?



Slow but perfect work will limit you to only super high end projects in the $1 million+ range. In which case, you would want him as an employee, not a business partner. If he has little practical knowledge, and bad business sense, why would you ever want him as a business partner?

I'm still curious as to how is he doing major kitchen & bathroom remodels with little practical knowledge? How are these projects 1 yr later? Tiles cracking? Windows leaking? mold/mildew in wall cavities?
 

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OK, house construction with a guy who gets it right by the 4th or 5th try?? One who's been doing this for 5 years and doesn't know the basics?? One who hires guys that apparently know even less?? - - Light your 50 grand on fire and think of all the time you'll save . . .
 

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Joseph A. Capece
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I didn't say he had little practical knowledge....He's actually knows a considerable deal...What can he do to start learning the basics of construction?
I want to help you in this but I am REALLY confused. So does he know a considerable deal? Or does he not know the basics of construction? :confused1::confused1:
 
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