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Well guys I'm new here, I really like this forum, a lot of really good info. Here is a topic I want to bring up for some of us out there who have been mostly doing the residential fence's and decks. I think some of us should post how we went from doing only Residential, to doing both Residential and Commercial projects. I my self have yet to really dive into the big jobs. I don't know if I'm not confident enough to take something like that on or if I just love doing residential stuff. I do know that if you have a fast enough crew and all the right equipment you can make a lot of money doing those by contractor jobs. So, if anyone in here has been in this situation and is now moved into doing commercial work maybe you could give us your story. How you made the leap to do it, what did it require, is it a good thing at all, were there a lot of new improvements and upgrades you had to make. We all are ears so get to telling us!

-Jerome
 

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Retired deck builder
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Even around here where there is always new businesses opening up that have decks you can't make a living doing commercial decks.

If you want those kind of jobs you need contacts with the big GC's that do those kind of buildings. That & have folks that will recommend you at the suppliers where the GC's go to find a deck builder. Sometimes all it takes is asking the superintendent for the job.
 

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John Hyatt
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Comm Jobs 101...Air tight Contract, Be ready to have several Boss's ,Be ready to wait for the money, The lowest bid most always gets it, if the union is on site as well be ready for a lot of hassle. if its a Resturant outside deck stay away from the little girls wait staff. JonMon
 

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I've never had to wait on $ on commercial jobs, but I worked as sub contractor on the big mega resturant decks i've done. Told GC, you want it done you pay every week & you put the wood on your account not mine. Either that or get the same pay schedule as HO'ers, F... waiting on money. I've seen too many big commercial jobs get shut down for one reason or another, GC go broke, ect.ect. Apartment/property mang. people pay like HO'ers or find someone else.

It's the darn home builders around here, the ones doing all the big subdivsions, that string you out. They want to pay you once or twice a month at best & hold 10% retainage for up to 3 months. You do have several bosses, the super, the inspector, the HO & the HO'ers inspector sometimes. Doing 3 or 4 punch list is BS, half the time it's one inspector saying one thing & the next one says something totaling different. The other half the time it's fixing up what some other sub messed up. Other subs would have no respect for anothers work, I cursed out plenty of them for opening the windows & throwing trash out on my decks. All that is why I don't work for home builders anymore.

Another thing that peed me off, stupid builder or super not have their stuff together. "Build the deck one step down from covered porch", when it's done, "oh, the HO wants it flush with covered porch, how much extra for that & I need it done tomorrow". The deck is elevated about 15'. F... all your wood for next job setting in another back yard down the street, framers walking off with 2x4 handrail mat. for doing punch out, HO'ers stealing stuff right & left. That's right, I even caught HO stealing my stuff & builder did not want to do anything & cops wouldn't either. Should have put a 2x4 upside the 'ol boys head & his teenage kid too.

Retail is where it's at imo, do once right, get paid, everone's happy & on to the next job. There's good $ to be had working for the big home builders, but the stress level is too high & the BS too deep.
 

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Interesting to hear the difference in different locations. I am in Alberta. I do all the decks for a builder. 2 and 3 years ago, decks galore. Pickup a plan, give them material list, show up, do it, walk into office with invoice, leave with a cheque. Next day, do it all over again. I was a bit pro-active though. I met with super, reviewed and discussed any potential pitfalls or problems I could anticipate. Really eliminated alot of headaches before material was even ordered.

Last year (recession) not so good. Forced into the private market. Website, advertising, handholding, selling my services, quoting. Waaaaaaay more work. Seemed more money going out than coming in. I remember when I first realized we were in a boom. I immediatly said to my wife, lets be smart, enjoy it but always remember, this will not last forever. Everybody saw green. No anticipation of the future.

I saw guys start framing crews and buying hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and thought...omg these guys don't realize how much this is going to hurt. It happened! Alot of guys went belly up.

I am getting to my point, don't worry

I elected to play it safe and steady. I didn't hire anyone, I didn't buy alot of expensive equipment (kept overhead to a minimum in anticipation of decline) I didn't raise my rated like everyone else did. When the decline came, The owner had meetings with every single trade renegotiating prices. Needless to say, majority of those trades went belly up or were let go. I never had a discussion with the owner about pricing and I am still doing whatever work he does have and with the projection of starts they had this year, it looks like decks galore for me in 2010.

There is a market in commercial I have alot of contacts in the commercial market here, but prefer the residential personally. I guess my point is, whatever you do, plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead! Ask GC what projects they have on the go and what projects are cooking. Anticipate it so that if work does run out or decline, are you on the hook with having to pay for your equipment and employees.

I could go on about this for days...Greed killed the boom here in Alberta!

Anyway, hope this helped someone
:thumbsup:

edmontoncustomdecks dot com
 

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Interesting to hear the difference in different locations. I am in Alberta. I do all the decks for a builder. 2 and 3 years ago, decks galore. Pickup a plan, give them material list, show up, do it, walk into office with invoice, leave with a cheque. Next day, do it all over again. I was a bit pro-active though. I met with super, reviewed and discussed any potential pitfalls or problems I could anticipate. Really eliminated alot of headaches before material was even ordered.
Life must be simpler up there, not the hustle & bustle of the big city subdivisions.

Even when I was doing builder decks 25 years ago we did them all turnkey, no one does labor only for builders here. They don't want to be bothered with ordering materials. The money was big, but the production setting got old for me quick.

What do you consider "decks galore"?
 

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Sorry Deckman. I didn't mean to give the impression that it was simpler here. Edmonton is a big city and there is plenty of hustle and bustle in our residential market. Many many subdivisions and lots of money floating around a couple of years ago. That was then and this is now. It was short lived. I put in alot of ground work to get to that point.

For me to hook up with this builder took a number of years networking, schmoozing, maintaining contacts and I would like to think, being smart and keeping everything in prespective. Like I said, when I realized we were in a full fledged boom, The first thing I thought of was to enjoy it as it would not last forever...and it didn't. I rode a wave for a year or so, now I have to paddle back out and look for the next set...so to speak.

You are absolutley right that most builders could not be bothered with material ordering. This one is different. They preferred it, maybe for purchasing power for max discount, I don't know, but it worked for both of us.

"Decks galore" means we had no shortage of decks. We always had work and even had to turn away some private jobs to keep builder happy. Not the case anymore. We absolutley had it great for a little while and I am very lucky to be where I am. I hate seeing/hearing contractors going under or really struggling, but everyone of those stories is more incentive for me to not allow that to happen to me.

Onward and upward and wish everyone much success!
Again, I love this site!
:thumbsup:
 
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