Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts
D

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Any input would be appreciated;
How do you make it work and how do you keep it looking like it's working when it's not?? I have had a multitude of weird contracts and I am getting tired of it because I usually end up losing money and pride dealing with these penny pinchers and can't seem to find the right clients!!.. I am a quality oriented craftsman type contractor whom takes pride in doing beautiful work but I am boggled by bad contracts which takes away from my ability to enjoy my work.. The latest is a new construction that the homeowners are acting as their own General. The home is you're basic upscaled Armstrong unit. The contractor designing the kitchen must have done it from his desk, has redesigned the kitchen 4 times in the last week due to poor design, fit and safety issues, the father of the homeowners whom are trying to save money designed the Balustrade to integrate to a kneewall with less material than needed and a whacky design, the floor isn't down because somehow they have talked some poor sap into doing the work in his off time for free, so the project couldn't be completed if I wanted to, with the plan changing everyday and the shortfalls I'm ready to pitch this one.. Yes, I have seen the light and went back to the owners today and let them know before the problems got cold that these changes and alterations were not figured into the original bid which should have been done in a weeks time start to finish, but what a headache I have had getting to this point, sheeeeeeesh...... The end result is this contract could be a tank.. It seems like I get 1 good contract for every 5 bad ones and it's hard to detect which ones are going to go bad when the onset is good and the plan changes midswing, how do you guys detect these up front?? I don't really have time to tear apart every project I estimate and somehow read into the minds of the client but it seems that I need to do just that........ Then there's the change in the homeowner's disposition from cost is not the issue to oh my!!!%$# you mean we are going to ask me for more than $15k when my budget started out at $50K then as of today has been reduced to $15K to do a total remodel of my home I think you better leave and let us destroy the beauty you have almost completed by shacking up the finish work just to save myself a couple bucks, and BTW since we didn't sign the verbally agreed to second phase of the agreement (my bust, stupid trusting me) before you went on you're out this weeks payroll and materials money too,, yech!! I am totally frustrated, maybe I should just bag it and drive truck!! Sure would be a whole lot simpler and would net about the same money unfortunately..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Bottom line is dont deal with penny pinchers. DOn't do anything you don't want to do. Sell on quality not price. YOu can't find the right clients because you are too busy spending all your time with the penny pinchers. Target areas with a higher class of people. Find a niche for you to work in.

LOL your post is too long and I get bored easy :)
 

·
Flooring Guru
Joined
·
2,794 Posts
I couldn't say it any better than Grump.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Been there, did that and get stung a few times. First, If a customer wines about money or is getting several dozen estimates don't waist your time. Second and most important papper work paper work get it in writing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
I am fortunate in that most of my clients are high-rollers and don't mind paying for what they want. It took years to get to that point and you really have to earn that reputation. It also doesn't hurt to live in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. It wasn't that way when I moved here, it just kinda grew up around me.
To keep from biting it on change orders I have a clause in my contract that states that I go to time and materials. Time is billed at double time. Why? Because for me to keep on schedule my guys are going to have to work overtime, that's time and a half for longer hours and Saturdays and I have always paid double time for Sundays. Those numbers don't quite add up, the extra is for my aggravation and money helps me get over that.
When we review a contract, prior to signing, I always make absolutely certain that the client understands this. I slow down my speech, have them read every single word of the clause. This has the effect of burning into their minds that if they want changes, it's going to cost them. I don't want them to come back in mid-project and tell me that they didn't remember.
There's another upside to this; I rarely get change orders
How to get good jobs: I started by joining our local builders association and rubbing elbows with the guys that had made it big time. They started tossing me jobs that they didn't want to be bothered with, about half I didn't want to be bothered with either but the other half were pretty good.
I joined the Chamber of Commerce and rubbed up against community leaders, realtors, banking people, attorneys, etc. Picked up some plum jobs from them.
When my wife died of cancer I became involved with the Cancer Society and met some new folks. Many of the people there also belonged to one or both of the previously mentioned associations. Once they start seeing you around they become friendly, you get comfortable with them and the next thing you know you are hiring more people and buying more trucks which are seen driving around with your phone number on them and folks just start calling you out of the blue. Worked for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Bummed in Seattle

I'm sorry for your loss Teetorbilt... I do very much appreciate your detailed explanation of how you do it, I am going to print that response and follow it to the T sq.. :Thumbs:

Fortunately my contract on the Armstrong home did not tank as expected, they instead offered me what I wanted after I told them that I was going to get the job done for whatever they could afford..

Thank all the rest for your responses they were also very helpful at least showing that some contractors are not putting up with a lot of hooya...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
Dion, One of my favorite attacks is to ask a customer how they made their money, of course they are proud and fill in all of the details. That's when you jump in and ask why you should be denied the same.
The majority of your customers will be businessmen. They respect other businessmen. Present yourself as one of them and they will respect you.
Go to gatherings looking respectable. I consistantly go to thrift shops, but only the high end ones. Aramani suit $80.00, tailoring, $25.00 = a $1200.00 tailored suit for a shade over a hundred bucks. Look good and you will feel good. And, ya, I can afford a new one but why? I'm frugal, as opposed to cheap. OK maybe I'm cheap too.
I thank you for your respect for my wife, she passed away many years ago at age 39, way too young. She was the director of nursing of our local hospital and lived to help others.
 

·
Flooring Guru
Joined
·
2,794 Posts
Good point Teet,

I am in sales, and I always find myself learning how to speak a particuliar clients language, so they better understand why price is the way it is, or whatever.
If they are in business, then you need to switch over to that language, and watch the look in their eyes, it will totally change. It goes from aggressive to understandable.
 
U

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Dion said:
Any input would be appreciated;
How do you make it work and how do you keep it looking like it's working when it's not?? I have had a multitude of weird contracts and I am getting tired of it because I usually end up losing money and pride dealing with these penny pinchers and can't seem to find the right clients!!.. I am a quality oriented craftsman type contractor whom takes pride in doing beautiful work but I am boggled by bad contracts which takes away from my ability to enjoy my work.. The latest is a new construction that the homeowners are acting as their own General. The home is you're basic upscaled Armstrong unit. The contractor designing the kitchen must have done it from his desk, has redesigned the kitchen 4 times in the last week due to poor design, fit and safety issues, the father of the homeowners whom are trying to save money designed the Balustrade to integrate to a kneewall with less material than needed and a whacky design, the floor isn't down because somehow they have talked some poor sap into doing the work in his off time for free, so the project couldn't be completed if I wanted to, with the plan changing everyday and the shortfalls I'm ready to pitch this one.. Yes, I have seen the light and went back to the owners today and let them know before the problems got cold that these changes and alterations were not figured into the original bid which should have been done in a weeks time start to finish, but what a headache I have had getting to this point, sheeeeeeesh...... The end result is this contract could be a tank.. It seems like I get 1 good contract for every 5 bad ones and it's hard to detect which ones are going to go bad when the onset is good and the plan changes midswing, how do you guys detect these up front?? I don't really have time to tear apart every project I estimate and somehow read into the minds of the client but it seems that I need to do just that........ Then there's the change in the homeowner's disposition from cost is not the issue to oh my!!!%$# you mean we are going to ask me for more than $15k when my budget started out at $50K then as of today has been reduced to $15K to do a total remodel of my home I think you better leave and let us destroy the beauty you have almost completed by shacking up the finish work just to save myself a couple bucks, and BTW since we didn't sign the verbally agreed to second phase of the agreement (my bust, stupid trusting me) before you went on you're out this weeks payroll and materials money too,, yech!! I am totally frustrated, maybe I should just bag it and drive truck!! Sure would be a whole lot simpler and would net about the same money unfortunately..
Do yourself a favor. Input in your contract some kind of clause that states something of your problem. Like if a homeowner should want any changes there is a possibility of an increase in payment. Or break down your payments. Something i do with my customers is i always put " unforeseen" That word is key. I state that in bold letters throughout my contracts. In many different ways also. Such as " Contractor not responsible for unforeseen problems" Or something like " Contractor is not responsible for increases in cost do to unforeseen changes by homeowner" Something else i also leave all my contracts pretty detailed. I know this sounds like a pain in the rump.. But in the long run, It prevents problems of miscommunication. Save your butt, any work order changes or changes in contracts, you have to make sure the customer signs work order changes or contract changes. Unless you've done work with them in the past and you have some sort of trust for them. But, in all....Cover yourself to the fullest. If you Break your payments down to covering your workload and materials to each point of your job and get paid as each step passes. Break the job up in different points you receive monies. So if you customer has problems and decides they don't want to pay you.. You're covered. Don't start new areas of jobs until you're paid for it. Most people feel better doing this cause they don't have as much as a fear of getting ripped off by contractors. They are paying as they go also. So they feel they don't have much to lose if the contractor takes off. So, it works out for both parties. Both parties stant to benefit from this. If one party involved in the contract stands to lose it wouldn't be much if any at all. Never let anyone you work for hold too many cards at once. I don't take any jobs without getting the payments i want when i want them. I will just walk and i let the customers know this also. If they trust you or have some sort of trust and belief in you. They will do what you want as long as it seems fair. If they give you a hard time, You're better off walking. Customers want things in contracts that protect them some so no reason why you as a contractor shouldn't have things in there to protect you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
How do we make it work

Unregistered said:
Do yourself a favor. Input in your contract some kind of clause that states something of your problem. Like if a homeowner should want any changes there is a possibility of an increase in payment. Or break down your payments. Something i do with my customers is i always put " unforeseen" That word is key. I state that in bold letters throughout my contracts. In many different ways also. Such as " Contractor not responsible for unforeseen problems" Or something like " Contractor is not responsible for increases in cost do to unforeseen changes by homeowner" Something else i also leave all my contracts pretty detailed. I know this sounds like a pain in the rump.. But in the long run, It prevents problems of miscommunication. Save your butt, any work order changes or changes in contracts, you have to make sure the customer signs work order changes or contract changes. Unless you've done work with them in the past and you have some sort of trust for them. But, in all....Cover yourself to the fullest. If you Break your payments down to covering your workload and materials to each point of your job and get paid as each step passes. Break the job up in different points you receive monies. So if you customer has problems and decides they don't want to pay you.. You're covered. Don't start new areas of jobs until you're paid for it. Most people feel better doing this cause they don't have as much as a fear of getting ripped off by contractors. They are paying as they go also. So they feel they don't have much to lose if the contractor takes off. So, it works out for both parties. Both parties stant to benefit from this. If one party involved in the contract stands to lose it wouldn't be much if any at all. Never let anyone you work for hold too many cards at once. I don't take any jobs without getting the payments i want when i want them. I will just walk and i let the customers know this also. If they trust you or have some sort of trust and belief in you. They will do what you want as long as it seems fair. If they give you a hard time, You're better off walking. Customers want things in contracts that protect them some so no reason why you as a contractor shouldn't have things in there to protect you.
You have the best advise as stated by the contractor in the previous responds also my I add that you might want to take a look at attending some code classes as the knowledge that you will get there will allow you to forsee things in the request from you clients that will not pass final inspections and also it will help you to identify bad designs.
Good look :
 

·
Contractor
Joined
·
46 Posts
aps said:
You have the best advise as stated by the contractor in the previous responds also my I add that you might want to take a look at attending some code classes as the knowledge that you will get there will allow you to forsee things in the request from you clients that will not pass final inspections and also it will help you to identify bad designs.
Good look :

That was my post you quoted on your reply. I keep on doing replies and forget to sign in. That's a good idea aps and if the classes are available then that would be a good idea. After all, knowledge is power. You cannot have too many bullets in your knowledge belt. If you don't have the experience of years of doing this sort or work then it's important to aquire as much knowledge as you can to get the jobs done right. like I said knowledge is power and as we all know... time is money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
dont take jobs that are slim on profit margins. I know it sounds like like a no crap thing, but you are hungry for work you take jobs that are slim. I would rather sit home and not make any money than go out work my butt off on a crappy job to lose money. I work on mostly custom homes, designing kitchens, installing granite counter tops and other stone products on backsplashes. I tell the people upfront i am sure they can find other people out there to come in with a cheaper price but you get what you pay for. I am also in a fortunate place that i do not advertise at all, i would say 95% of the work we do is on referral. If you price yourself to make money you will enjoy the jobs more cause you know you are not trying to cut corners to make a buck. As well as the days that you dont have a job it allows you to get those honey do's done and everyone is happier. hope that helps a little
 

·
Contractor
Joined
·
46 Posts
Grumpy said:
Hammertime, I love the name! Consider signing in and allowing your browser to remember you so you never have to sign in again.
Thanks Grumpy! =) It's the name of my Business. I've had it for over 12 years. It's definitely a conversation starter.
 

·
Contractor
Joined
·
46 Posts
ABA Const said:
dont take jobs that are slim on profit margins. I know it sounds like like a no crap thing, but you are hungry for work you take jobs that are slim. I would rather sit home and not make any money than go out work my butt off on a crappy job to lose money. I work on mostly custom homes, designing kitchens, installing granite counter tops and other stone products on backsplashes. I tell the people upfront i am sure they can find other people out there to come in with a cheaper price but you get what you pay for. I am also in a fortunate place that i do not advertise at all, i would say 95% of the work we do is on referral. If you price yourself to make money you will enjoy the jobs more cause you know you are not trying to cut corners to make a buck. As well as the days that you dont have a job it allows you to get those honey do's done and everyone is happier. hope that helps a little

I hear that ABA. I don't advertise neither. All my jobs are referals. I average at least 3 jobs out of every job I do. I develope a good relationship with all my customers so I would say about 40% of my business, maybe more( I'm guessing) is repeat customers looking for other work to be done.
 

·
Retired Contractor
Joined
·
1,197 Posts
I'm starting out for the second time in contracting. Left it for a few years after I got tired of getting burnt. My last job took two years and $10k to collect a $20k balance. That was with a lein in place. This time I started when people learned I use to do the work and began hiring me again. Now I too don't advertise anymore. Its all referals and the best part of that is the job is mine when I get there and its all T/M. I am sure as it builds up I will eventually have to re enter the estimating phase of this business, but remodels always go to T/M do to too much of the unknown anyway.
 

·
General Contractor
Joined
·
548 Posts
Like the wise men said......
Plus -
Always bid high and structure your payment schedule frontloaded, that way you a) won't get those kind of jobs and b) if a good job blows up, you can walk away with a profit anyway.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,078 Posts
Digger1799 said:
but remodels always go to T/M do to too much of the unknown anyway.
I'm curious how that works. I just can't imagine signing many contracts with my customers if I told them it is going to be $60.00 an hour plus a 25%-50% markup on all materials for your remodel job and it will take somewhere between 5 and 8 days.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Wow! This thread takes me back

I just pulled up this site because it came up as being updated on my e-mail.
Started reading the first thread without seeing the name and said this guy sounds distressed and boy does his situation sound familiar especially when the knee wall came into the picture. Then I looked to the left and saw my own name, holy smackers! Your inputs really did help me a lot back then and
it's good to look at it now too.

Many terrific and profitable projects followed this one. I went back into Inspection @ Boeing when they called me back from layoff but miss the creativitiy and freedom that I had.

Funny, was just thinking about starting up again with a focus on high end handicap accessible bathroom remodels this morning, pull up my e-mail and this is here...

Mike, Seattle will be back next year and this time we'll have learned how to hang onto the ball! Good luck you guys, have a terrific week!!
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top