Unfair Assumptions About Contractors
There are many occupations that have a bad reputation whether justified or not. There is a saying that people hate lawyers and doctors… until they need one. The same might be said of construction contractors. People have a distrust of the unknown and many times they need a contractor in times of vulnerability and high stress. Perhaps a storm has hit or their water heater died. Let’s take a look at some of these assumptions.
Paying the Contractor Upfront is a Bad Thing.
It really depends. You would definitely not pay for the entire job before any work is done. In most cases that would be a mistake. However, many times a project requires permits, bonds, insurance or other cost that are paid before the job is even started. Imagine being the contractor who has to foot the bill. A reasonable deposit is a good idea for both the contractor and the client. It insures that the contractor has sufficient capital to continue on the job and the client will not have one big bill at the end of the project. Make sure a contract outlining all the work to be performed is written and signed by both parties. That way the contractor knows what tasks he is supposed to perform and the client knows what he is getting for his money.
Bidding a Job Does Not Cost the Contractor Anything.
One of the worse aspects of this industry is the “free estimate”. There are actually many costs associated with bidding a job. Even if the owner of the business does the proposal herself and not paying an employee, it is still costing her time. There is the time spent onsite looking at it and the time it takes to work up the proposal. Furthermore, if the client balks at the original proposal the estimator has to do additional work, such as contacting material suppliers or subcontractors, costing her more time. Even after all that effort the client can easily reject the proposal and thus there is no payday for the contractor.
Construction Contractors Have Not Invested Much in Their Education
While the majority of construction workers may not have an advanced degree, don’t mistake the lack of the degree for lack of knowledge. Construction work requires skilled labor. Many attend vocational schools to learn their trade while others learn through apprenticeships. Like any other occupation the many years of experience hone their skills. Many workers are experts and should be trusted and respected for their experience.
The Contractor with the Lowest Bid is the Best Choice
Here the point to make is not that there is something wrong with being a low-price bidder, but rather that a higher price bidder may have more to offer. For example, a contractor with all the required insurances and licenses will have to include these costs in his proposal. If not, he would never profit from the business because his expenses would exceed his revenues. When a client sees a big difference in bids submitted by potential contractors they may assume that the higher bid is gouging them. Actually, one should make sure all the bid items are the same in both the bids and that there is a proper comparison. Additionally, the client should do his/her homework to vet the contractors and make sure they are all capable of performing the work.
Like any other field, construction contractors come from all types of backgrounds and experiences. They all have their own way of doing business and of course some are better at it then others. Choosing the right one for your project can be challenging but don’t assume that all of them are trying to cheat you. Do your homework. (See our article “How to Choose a Contractor”.) Deal with them in a professional manner and enjoy your finished project.