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Hello all, just a question pertaining to losing money on jobs.

How many of you painting contractors actually notify the homeowner or general contractor that a certain job is turning out to be more work, or take more material than you estimated and then ask them for more money?

I am currrently painting a historic chapel in my native town of Gilroy California. I bid the Interior at $2800(its a small one room chapel) and i came out good on that bid.

The exterior though, is a different story, I bid that at $5700 since it required quite a bit of prep since the chapel hadn't been painted in 30 years.

After pressure washing the chapel, more paint loosened up hence requiring more scraping,sanding,priming,caulking and puttying. Its like a domino effect.

This is something that i never could have predicted until actually getting started with the work. After doing the math, i predict i am going be about 500 dollars short on labor.

The general contractor is really cool, and since he knows that i am just starting off, and therefore lack experienc in bidding, he said that if i came up short, to let him know and he would see what he could do.

I still feel kind of weird about the whole thing. I always hate to ask for more money, it makes me feel less proffesional. When i straight up underbid the job i usually eat the cost, however in this situation i feel that i had no control over it. I couldn't have seen the extra work involved until i started.

What do you guys think? should i ask for the extra money. or just eat the cost.
 

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Not only painting, but any trade, that should be in your contract. Something like this:

HIDDEN CONDITIONS: Additional charges may be incurred due to unforeseen circumstances that arise during the progress of work. If this happens, work will stop and Contractor will discuss additional charges with Client, and Client will decide if they want work to continue.

HTH

and BTW, no I don't feel bad at all. The price shown is for the work listed, if I do something not listed, they have to pay money not listed. :cheesygri
 

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I agree with JPROFFER.

Mine reads like this:

UNFORESEEN CONDITIONS - This proposal is based on visual conditions. Should unforeseen condtions arise that could not be determined by visual inspection prior to starting work, such additional work shall be performed on a Time and Materials Basis, after you have been notified of such. The rate for this and all other work is $45.00 per hour plus the cost of all materials and supplies.

Hope this helps.

In your equation, $500.00 may or maynot break the bank. You make the call.

Tom Rohland, Jr.
Ranger Painting & Pressure Cleaning, Inc.
 

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I like the rest of you have had a $ loss on a job. Most I eat if it actually my fault for not forseeing it. Some I eat if it is going to help me with referrals in the future. Sometimes you have to look after yourself and make sure you are not taking advantage of. I have, in the past, come across this problem with GCs and had to put my foot down and let them know that the extra work will cost more. If you let them take advantage of a bad situation, you will be the one to suffer. My motto is that the customer is always right, but there are those unforseeable situations that you can not allow to lose money on a job. -Hollis
 

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I, too, have the 'unforseen' clause in my contract. I published it and it should be in the archives.
You have to CYA if you are going to make it.
 

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Painters seem to be notorious for thinking only they do things a certain way. We are all contractors and run into many of the same problems regardless of trade. Your best bet is to ask questions like these in general forums.

Me, if I give a flat bid and the error is discovered after material is ordered then I eat the mistake, period. Quite often if a job is F'ed up I will ask someone else to double check my measurements after the contract has been signed. BTW there is a clause of cancellation stating that the contract isn't final until scheduled by the management. Thsi allows me to go back to the customer and explain my mistake and ask for proper compensation.
 

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Grumpy, Welcome back! I hope that the new Mrs. is wearing you out.
To the subject, I'm sure that you have run into circumstances outside of your quote, like rotten rafters, which change everything significantly. I believe that is what this topic is about.
 

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HIDDEN CONDITIONS: Additional charges may be incurred due to unforeseen circumstances that arise during the progress of work. If this happens, work will stop and Contractor will discuss additional charges with Client, and Client will decide if they want work to continue.
This is almost an exact duplicate of what is included on my invoices.
Where did you come up with that?
 

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Some version of a hidden or concealed conditions clause should be in every contractors contract. I also have excavation and hazmat clauses which are modified versions of the standard hidden cond. clause.
 

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saucedo80 said:
What do you guys think? should i ask for the extra money. or just eat the cost.
Eat it.

You just paid $500 to learn that you need a hidden defects clause in your contract. Some people have probably paid much more and would look at your $500 education as being cheap.

I say eat it and keep your professional dignity, it probably could be worth more than $500. If the job turned out easier and you found out you were going to be $500 ahead on labor would you be reducing the bill by $500? I hope your answer is no.

For me it's either T&M or it's fixed price, I don't get the in between and going back and forth stuff.

I can tell you that if a guy was subbing for me and gave me a sob story like that, I might help him out financially but I would always doubt his ability to bid correctly on anything else he did for me. I would constantly have to second guess him that if he really screws up some time down the road, is it going to be so bad that he will have to walk away from the job and screw me over in the process because he has screwed up so badly he has no alternative? You can see how this type of incident could affect you long term that you get a reputation of not knowing what you are doing. For me that would be your kiss of death and I would be reluctant to allow you to put me in jeapordy with my customer.

The other side of this, and don't take this the wrong way, but it is how I really feel about stuff like this, but I would personally think of anybody who came to me in your situation as a big pussy. This is business to me, so you better run your operation as one or I have no respect for you. It kind of reminds me of the pussy you play cards with as a kid who lost badly to you and his mom called your mom and you had to give his Babe Ruth baseball card back to him, the whole time you know that if you had gotten the bad luck of the game you never would have even thought about trying to weasle out of your lose.

Business is the same to me, if you want to run with the big dogs you have to be prepared to take it like a man when things don't go your way.
 

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If it's only $500 I'd eat the loss. Anymore, I'd talk to the GC. Are you working on one of Padre Sierra's Missions? It may be worth the 5 Benjamine's just to have that in your portfolio. Take photo's for future sales.
 

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Flor,

Not sure where I got that. I spent alot of time looking for samples, examples, etc. at the beginning. Must be a good wording though if we both have it :cheesygri
 

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Teetorbilt said:
Grumpy, Welcome back! I hope that the new Mrs. is wearing you out.
To the subject, I'm sure that you have run into circumstances outside of your quote, like rotten rafters, which change everything significantly. I believe that is what this topic is about.
Teetor to answer your question rotten rafters are included in my quote at a cost of $5.50 per lienar foot to reinforce/sister. So is rotten roof board and plywood. These are things I run into often so I do not consider unforseen.

I see your point though, anything unforseen is unforseen, if you had forseen it then you'd have included it :)

I thought we were talking about estimator mistakes. To be honest very little is unforseen when you really speciallize in what you are doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, guys to be honest with you i have never liked to ask for money when i see that i am losing. To me it is unproffesional, i decided to post my question on this forum because i asked my old boss for advice pertaining to losing money on jobs. He responded that i should ask the guy for more money because the nature of estimating wasn't an exact science, he also said that alot of contractors do it. Before i went ahead and did that though i decided to ask some of you guys. And thanks for all the input.

Well, i stuck to my word and finished the chapel, did not ask the general contractor for more money, and it came out great. The general contractor was so happy with the end product that it came out of him to offer me more money. He told me "include all your extra time on my bill and i will pay you for it". He also told me that he had four more jobs coming my way. Plus, i got my name on the front page of the town's newspaper since the chapel is a historic landmark.

this job turned out alright.
 
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