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Contractors


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#1 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 09:26 AM

Most people that own their houses use contractors.  Many problems arise and I'd like to see a discussion about them.  I've been trying Angie's List, but have had no luck at all.  I'd also like to hear about ripoffs and things like that.  

 

For instance, I used Angie's List to get a contractor to put trim around all my windows.  I estimated the job (I was an estimator for the company I worked for, used a huge set of books for my estimations) at about a grand.  When the guy came to the house to give us the estimate he ignored me and talked only to my wife.  By the time he was thru, the job was about $3,900.  My wife asked me, "What just happened?" after the guy left.  I explained that he knew she was likely to know little about carpentry and he could give her a higher estimate by adding on things we didn't need.  I ended up using another contractor who did the job for about a $1,000.

 

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#2 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 10:12 AM

When I bought my first house there were some foundation posts [4x4] that had subsided away from the floor.

As I was getting ready to sell a house, I had a contractor over to replace the six posts.

He sat in my living room [over the area], never looked under the house and quoted me $1,200.

When I question him, he said it was "the going rate".

Had the job done [by someone else] for $700 and a total of 8 posts.

 

Another house I wanted to put in a sprinkler system covering half an acre, with a lot of trees.

Called about half a dozen contractors for quotes.

One turned off the street into my driveway, stopped for a min and backed out never to be heard from again.

The first quote was for $6,500, but didn't give details as to what would be done.

The next two quotes were $2,500 & $3,000 and again no details.

I changed my approach and designed a system myself, and used this for the quotes.

The next two quotes were $7,600, & $8,300.

I then priced the parts and changed the job to "how much to dig & fill" this system, where I supply parts and finalize the system.

All that was needed was to have water come out where it should and not where it shouldn't.

 

Called the lowest two contractors back out.

The $2,500 quote became $5,000 [labor only]

The $3,000 quote became $2,000.

My estimate of parts was around $1,000.

I went with the $2,000 quote with the caveat that I would work with him.

Parts ended up $1,700 and the contractor told me the system was "over engineered", which I agreed with as it allowed for additions/modifications in all six zones and had provisions for two more zones.

Some of this "over engineering" came into play later, as a few more heads were needed to get the right coverage. 


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#3 OFFLINE   west99999

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 09:19 PM

My most recent 2 experiences was with a concrete driveway extension that was about 11.5 yards. 1st guy came out and started at about $2400 total with price of concrete included. He called back and wanted to bring a buddy with him to take another look at things the quote then went to at least $5000 to do the job because of the hill and all the dirt they had to move out. I ended up getting another guy come move all the dirt and grade everything for the drive and get everything ready he charged $900 then had another guy set the forms and work the concrete for $500 and the concrete was around 1100 so the original contractor was pretty close at 1st bid but his buddy seemed to think they could con me out of more than double for some reason. 

The next was getting the hill sodded again from the driveway work it was only about 500 square feet so 1 pallet of sod and every contractor that came out wanted $1000 or more just to lay the sod out when job should have been a couple hundred at most. I ended up laying myself the pallet was $150. I probably could have kept looking and found a decent price I just didn't want to deal with all the rigamarole.



#4 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 07:36 AM

When I bought my first house there were some foundation posts [4x4] that had subsided away from the floor.

As I was getting ready to sell a house, I had a contractor over to replace the six posts.

He sat in my living room [over the area], never looked under the house and quoted me $1,200.

When I question him, he said it was "the going rate".

Had the job done [by someone else] for $700 and a total of 8 posts.

 

Another house I wanted to put in a sprinkler system covering half an acre, with a lot of trees.

Called about half a dozen contractors for quotes.

One turned off the street into my driveway, stopped for a min and backed out never to be heard from again.

The first quote was for $6,500, but didn't give details as to what would be done.

The next two quotes were $2,500 & $3,000 and again no details.

I changed my approach and designed a system myself, and used this for the quotes.

The next two quotes were $7,600, & $8,300.

I then priced the parts and changed the job to "how much to dig & fill" this system, where I supply parts and finalize the system.

All that was needed was to have water come out where it should and not where it shouldn't.

 

Called the lowest two contractors back out.

The $2,500 quote became $5,000 [labor only]

The $3,000 quote became $2,000.

My estimate of parts was around $1,000.

I went with the $2,000 quote with the caveat that I would work with him.

Parts ended up $1,700 and the contractor told me the system was "over engineered", which I agreed with as it allowed for additions/modifications in all six zones and had provisions for two more zones.

Some of this "over engineering" came into play later, as a few more heads were needed to get the right coverage. 

 

Those books I wrote about in my OP didn't allow for pricing just materials and time.  I'd make measurements or whatever I had to do to get info on the job I was estimating and when I had gotten all the info from the books that I could it came time to estimate the labor costs.  I tripled the hours the books told me it should take the workers to complete the job, since the guys in the plant only had tools in hand for a couple hours a day, and nobody complained.  Most of my estimates came in about where I thought they would.  With contractors for my home I've always gotten a set price with the proviso that if something unexpected came up we would talk about the additional costs.  Let me put that simply: If you let yourself get caught up in a "Time and Materials" contract you might get screwed.  I like flat price jobs.  

 

Rich 



#5 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 07:55 AM

My most recent 2 experiences was with a concrete driveway extension that was about 11.5 yards. 1st guy came out and started at about $2400 total with price of concrete included. He called back and wanted to bring a buddy with him to take another look at things the quote then went to at least $5000 to do the job because of the hill and all the dirt they had to move out. I ended up getting another guy come move all the dirt and grade everything for the drive and get everything ready he charged $900 then had another guy set the forms and work the concrete for $500 and the concrete was around 1100 so the original contractor was pretty close at 1st bid but his buddy seemed to think they could con me out of more than double for some reason. 

The next was getting the hill sodded again from the driveway work it was only about 500 square feet so 1 pallet of sod and every contractor that came out wanted $1000 or more just to lay the sod out when job should have been a couple hundred at most. I ended up laying myself the pallet was $150. I probably could have kept looking and found a decent price I just didn't want to deal with all the rigamarole.

 

I've been getting prices on putting in a concrete driveway and some additional pads for a shed and sitting area and some walkways. I've gone from the first guy at $15,000 to the last and final contractor who gave me a price of $10,000, which I think is fair and around what I had figured it should cost.  It amazes me how much these bids differ.  

 

I just had my roof replaced last year.  I made the mistake of joining Service Master a few years ago and we had a lot of their contractors give us estimates for the roof.  All were much higher than they should have been, the highest being $30,000.  Think of that: $30,000 for a roof.  A job that took a day when I finally had it done.  When the rep gave me that estimate I laughed and asked him if gold shingles were really that cheap.  Ended up BSing with him for an hour or so after he saw I wasn't gonna bite and he told me he had people waiting for their roofing to start and they were paying similar prices.  People actually spent that much on a roof! They had to take out loans to pay for it.  Naturally, his company had a finance arm that took care of that.

 

Rich 



#6 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 09:10 AM

I just had my roof replaced last year.  I made the mistake of joining Service Master a few years ago and we had a lot of their contractors give us estimates for the roof.  All were much higher than they should have been, the highest being $30,000.  Think of that: $30,000 for a roof.  A job that took a day when I finally had it done. 

 

 

 

How can I say this nicely: You live in NJ. :)

 

Everything seems to cost more in NJ.


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#7 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:09 AM

How can I say this nicely: You live in NJ. :)

 

Everything seems to cost more in NJ.

 

Yup, you got that right!

 

Rich



#8 OFFLINE   Drucifer

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 01:50 PM

Seniors are targeted for excessive pricing because most seniors are no longer capable of doing DIY.


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#9 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 05:01 PM

How can I say this nicely: You live in NJ. :)

 

Everything seems to cost more in NJ.

 

Hmm.  After some thought, I think that service is called Service Magic...yup, I made a mistake.  Here's a link to their website.  To anybody reading this post, please listen and don't get involved with them.

 

Having read a lot of your posts, and assuming your house is larger than mine, I'd bet that if that same guy came to your home he'd have given you an even higher price for a roof. Who in their right mind would pay $30,000 for a roofing job?  Pretty simple job, but nobody wants to do it themselves.  All the materials can't cost more than a couple grand and the crew of happy workers from south of the border has to get paid.  That's a hell of a profit.

 

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#10 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 05:11 PM

Seniors are targeted for excessive pricing because most seniors are no longer capable of doing DIY.

 

The thing about good contractors is that they have all the tools they need with them.  And they do the work all the time instead of once in a blue moon.  

 

While I was helping a carpenter install a door in my home yesterday, I noticed a guy banging on the widow next door's front door. Really pounding it.  Then another one of them popped up in front of me.  They were from True Green and trying to get people to buy their services.  The guy said, "Your front lawn..." and I asked to see his permit to solicit from the township.  Didn't have one.  Told him to run along and he left.

 

But I do see your point.  I've got a neighbor that was old when I bought this house almost 30 years ago.  He painted his house a couple years ago all by himself.  He still seems to be capable of working, but I'm sure he's an anomaly.  

 

Rich



#11 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 06:55 PM


Having read a lot of your posts, and assuming your house is larger than mine, I'd bet that if that same guy came to your home he'd have given you an even higher price for a roof.

 

It might be bigger, but probably cost half as much. :D

 

My roof hopefully has another 10 years on it, but when the Derecho came through a couple of summers ago, my parents roof didn't make it.  With the detached garage, they had about 4,000 square feet of roof (long ranch with an L) and their contract for 30-year shingles was just under $15K.


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#12 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:05 PM

Seniors are targeted for excessive pricing because most seniors are no longer capable of doing DIY.

 

And Orkin is the worst.  My parents are 94 and 85, live in an older, but nice house with a Mercedes and Cadillac in the carport.  The guy from Orkin came to do their annual termite inspection and as part of it, was under their house.  He came out from under their with a $10K estimate for all the work they needed done.  Some of the plastic floor was cracked (it was 50 years old) and needed replaced, their was an old copper drain pipe that needed replaced because it was leaking and they needed more insulation on their HVAC trunk.

 

My father signed the contract. :(.  When I found out I immediately invoked the 3-day termination clause and cancelled it.  I had the leaking drain pipe fixed (not replaced) by a local plumber for a few hundred dollars.  The other two things were not be enough deals to worry about.

 

So I sent the Orkin branch manager a letter telling him if one of his employees ever tried to solicit my parents again that I would cancel all services with them.  It took 2 years before the guy was telling my mom about the plastic needing replaced.  Neither my parents or I use Orkin anymore.


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#13 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:27 AM

It might be bigger, but probably cost half as much. :D

 

My roof hopefully has another 10 years on it, but when the Derecho came through a couple of summers ago, my parents roof didn't make it.  With the detached garage, they had about 4,000 square feet of roof (long ranch with an L) and their contract for 30-year shingles was just under $15K.

 

We paid $160,000 for it in '86.  I wouldn't sell it for less than $500,000 now.  At the moment, there's no way I could get that much for it, but I have patience.

 

Rich



#14 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:34 AM

And Orkin is the worst.  My parents are 94 and 85, live in an older, but nice house with a Mercedes and Cadillac in the carport.  The guy from Orkin came to do their annual termite inspection and as part of it, was under their house.  He came out from under their with a $10K estimate for all the work they needed done.  Some of the plastic floor was cracked (it was 50 years old) and needed replaced, their was an old copper drain pipe that needed replaced because it was leaking and they needed more insulation on their HVAC trunk.

 

My father signed the contract. :(.  When I found out I immediately invoked the 3-day termination clause and cancelled it.  I had the leaking drain pipe fixed (not replaced) by a local plumber for a few hundred dollars.  The other two things were not be enough deals to worry about.

 

So I sent the Orkin branch manager a letter telling him if one of his employees ever tried to solicit my parents again that I would cancel all services with them.  It took 2 years before the guy was telling my mom about the plastic needing replaced.  Neither my parents or I use Orkin anymore.

 

When I started this thread that's exactly the kind of post I hoped to see.  When I started this thread I was already upset by contractors and reading about your parent's problems with Orkin will surely stick in my mind.  

 

When the guy from Handyman came to my house to give us an estimate he was wearing a big tool pouch and looked like he was ready to work instead of just giving us the estimate.  Why would he need to wear his tools?  The same reason Realtors, car salesman, and bankers wear suits to work--to intimidate.  

 

Rich



#15 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 02:23 PM

We paid $160,000 for it in '86.  I wouldn't sell it for less than $500,000 now.  At the moment, there's no way I could get that much for it, but I have patience.

 

Rich

I paid $162K for a house in 1992.  Sold it in '94 for .......  $166K.  Didn't even cover the Realtor fees. 


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#16 OFFLINE   houskamp

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:33 PM

Whats a contractor? :lol:


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#17 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 10:33 AM

I paid $162K for a house in 1992.  Sold it in '94 for .......  $166K.  Didn't even cover the Realtor fees. 

 

The prices went sky-high during that period in NJ.  

 

Rich



#18 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 10:37 AM

Whats a contractor? :lol:

 

For the most part, someone trying to separate you from your money by charging you exorbitant prices.  The most consistently honest contractors I've used have been from Guatemala.  That's the first question I ask our very diverse contractors:  Where are you from? If they say Guatemala, they're usually reasonable and trustworthy.  

 

Rich



#19 ONLINE   Nick

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 10:38 AM

 

...When the guy from Handyman came to my house to give us an estimate he was wearing a big tool pouch and looked like he was ready to work instead of just giving us the estimate.  Why would he need to wear his tools?  The same reason Realtors, car salesman, and bankers wear suits to work--to intimidate.  

 

Rich

 

I was a banker. I wore suits. I don't remember why. Maybe it was cuz everybody else did -- a uniform of sorts. I don't recall ever trying to intimidate anyone - to impress, maybe, I dunno. Perhaps if I had worn a sewn-on nametag like Carl down at the garage. If anyone feels intimidated by a person wearing a business suit, well, isn't that their problem?

 

:rolleyes:

 

 


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#20 ONLINE   Rich

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 11:17 AM

 

 

 

I was a banker. I wore suits. I don't remember why. Maybe it was cuz everybody else did -- a uniform of sorts. I don't recall ever trying to intimidate anyone - to impress, maybe, I dunno. Perhaps if I had worn a sewn-on nametag like Carl down at the garage. If anyone feels intimidated by a person wearing a business suit, well, isn't that their problem?

 

:rolleyes:

 

 

 

 

The reason I wrote that post was because my lawyer owned a real estate business and tried to talk me into selling real estate.  His BIL was running the business for him.  I met with his BIL about the job and wore jeans and a Banlon shirt.  Pretty dressy for me. After about an hour of listening to him, he asked me if I had any questions.  First thing I asked him was if he expected me to wear a suit.  Yup.  Nope, I don't do that.  But you have to.  Nope.  Asked him why a suit was necessary.  That's when he launched into a speech about how wearing a suit when speaking to someone dressed lower would intimidate them and make them think you were smarter than they were.  I've heard that same speech from car salesman and appliance salesman that I know.  When I got out of the Navy, I went to Allstate Insurance looking for an easy job.  Passed all their tests with flying colors.  Then the guy that was assigned to me went into their dress code.  That killed that job.  He gave me the same speech I was to hear later on.  Intimidation based. Suits are smarter than sloppy dressers.

 

I'd imagine you went into banking and followed the leader while climbing the ladder.  They wore suits and you did too.  

 

As a side note, the most successful Realtor in our town doesn't wear suits.  

 

Rich 






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