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What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

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  • What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

    Or expecting you to do more work than was in your scope, so they don't end up with a punch list?

    I just did a trim job for a builder. Existing townhouse, water damage job. 70% of drywall was damaged, so trim was removed and needed to be replaced. Also 3 interior doors.

    So I walk the job with the builder before giving a price, asking various questions about what I'm responsible for, writing down each item I need to do in each room.

    I'm told to reinstall the cabinets and microwave and back panel, but flooring guy will handle shoe. I'm to just set bath vanities in place, with fillers attached, but don't screw vanity to wall or set the top. I'm to swap doorknobs and doorstops off old doors. Couple pieces of crown is still installed, he tells me it stays...new crown will match the old.


    I eventually get the job done, as parts and pieces arrive at various times... I ask over and over to get the new vanities there so I can install the upstairs one while I'm still on that floor. I run short on base and casing (he supplied), and I told him I would need more well before I ran out. He gets the crown there 3 days after he promised it, and it does not match the old, so that's 2 extra pieces with returns I now have to install.


    Then I get a call about items I didn't finish: Doorknobs, bifold doors not hung, toe kicks on base cabs not installed. I tell him I did install the doorknobs, painters must have removed them. Bifolds were never mentioned when we walked the job, and I never even thought about it further. (The floor bracket had to be screwed down after the carpet was installed, then simply put the bifolds back in the existing tracks.) Toe-kicks? Ok, I did leave them go, figuring his guys could put them on (they'd be there at the end finishing odds and ends--ceiling fans, mount TV, mirrors, some tile, etc)...I didn't have a pinner gun...no big deal in exchange for the multiple hold-ups I had to deal with from him...

    So all we're really talking about is 10 minutes hanging some bifolds and maybe 20 for the toe kicks. But he's really pissed, and tells me he was really considering giving the next trim job (similar job, more involved, for which I already gave a price and he accepted) to someone else..., none of his subs do that to him..., if I do a trim job for him he expects me to have it all covered..., he's tired of punch lists at the end of jobs...

    So I don't argue with him...I apologize and tell him it won't happen in the future. But, I then tell him my side. His holding me up by not having items there when needed and when promised, which caused me around 4 times the amount of time that he had in dealing with the items I didn't do, and I didn't say anything about it. But if he was going to expect me to handle "whatever needs to be done," then he better have everything there I need so my time won't be wasted, especially since on the next job I'll have a helper working with me.


    What is it with builders who can only see what you did to them, but not see how their poor management wasted your time?

    And how do you see this?

    Tom
    Last edited by TSJHD1; 05-15-2011, 01:07 AM.
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  • #2
    Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

    As a general and a sub I can see both sides. Sounds like there should have a been a little more clear communication. I will say that you should be careful not to give him any excuses. As a trim contractor you probably should have thought of the bifolds, and the 20 min. toe kick job could take a lot longer than 20 minutes if you have to go get all the necessary tools and fasteners, hook them up, install the trim, then roll all the tools back up (simply not having the pin nailer stopped you from doing it).

    A good sub in my opinion shouldn't only do what is asked of him, but what needs to be done, and what may have been overlooked. If you have any doubt, ask even if it may be an extra charge. If you feel you should leave something undone in exchange for the troubles he caused, tell him before he finds out. From a general's point of view its extremely frustrating to find something out without being told (you also start wondering "what else did they not tell me"). Communication is a major key to maintaining a good relationship.

    Next time, do everything you're asked to do and he won't have any excuse to be upset. I know when things start to add up, all it takes is one little thing to put it over the edge sometimes. Don't give him that one little thing.
    Michael

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    • #3
      Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

      Now you know for the next job you price that you have to add $$ for all the time you'll waste and for "handling everything".

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      • #4
        Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

        What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

        that's why you will only have a job working for contractors (most not all) and never really run a successful money making business.

        and I bet this guy was not on site most of the time.

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        • #5
          Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

          Learning curve flattened. Fool me once, shame on you. But, fool me twice...
          Richie Poor

          See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, value engineer your unit prices.

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          • #6
            Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

            Originally posted by TSJHD1 View Post
            But, I then tell him my side. His holding me up by not having items there when needed and when promised, which caused me around 4 times the amount of time that he had in dealing with the items I didn't do, and I didn't say anything about it. Tom
            Sounds like this should have been brought up as soon as it became an issue.

            I am not saying my situation is like yours, maybe entirely different, but I had a large job last year where one sub came in and did some sub par work before going out of town. I had known and used the sub a long time and never had a problem before. I had to fix the issue myself on my own time. When the sub came back in town I called them to the site to discuss the issue and all the sudden the sub came at me with "well when you identified the scope I didn't know their was going to be a delay, a this, a that etc...it cost me more time and I had to rush to finish". To me it was more of an issue that the sub could not let me know immediately when there was a problem with our working relationship and instead kept it to themselves and their work needed touching up. I would not have minded an extra charge if the reasoning was discussed when things became above and beyond, but to use it as an excuse afterwords left a sour taste.

            If I have to touch up after a new or infrequent sub I have a conversation about expectations the first time, and if there is a second time on the same issue there is no third time.
            Last edited by tucker; 05-15-2011, 09:35 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

              Of course I expect subs to take care of punchout within their contract. As to extra work, it just depends on what it is. If a flooring sub contracts to install 2,000 ft of flooring, and he installs an extra 200 sq ft, I expect to be charged for it. If a trim carpenter contracts to trim a house, and we add a small amount of trim or cabinetry, I don't want to be charged. If I ask a framer to move a door opening after it is framed, I don't expect that to be charged to me. I don't like to be nickel and dimed, and of course I try not to do the same to my subs.

              Tom, if I reading correctly the extra work was on 30 minutes or so, I would not have even brought that up. I think long term relationships where you give subs all or most of your work, tends to make these non-issues.
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              • #8
                Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                I'm a GC but I've lived a long life as a sub.

                In this scenario, the sub screwed up. Yes, the GC also failed in several ways too.

                As a sub, you can only control one half of the equation and the only question that matters is: did I do my job to perfection? The answer is no. You left the toe kicks off. That would be like leaving the caps off a roof for me.

                As a sub, I always made it my business to be proactive. I tried to be the kind of sub that would be helpful to the GC. As I worked a job, I would be much more intimate with the overall jobsite than the GC was and I used that knowledge to solidify my worth. How? It was simple; I'd keep tabs on things THAT WEREN'T MY BUSINESS and give him a heads up. The GC was always thankful, even if they didn't properly act on the information.

                So, how would I have differently worked your deal? First, I would have installed the toe kicks. That would not have been an issue. I would have noticed that there were bifold door hardware missing or un-installed and asked if I should include that in my scope. We used to set our brackets on small pieces of 3/4" ply and the carpet guys cut around them.

                The issues of back orders, slow orders, and mis matched crown would be an annoyance but it would not be a reason why the builder would be unhappy with my services. It would be the other way around. I would be unhappy with his supervision. You have your choice on how to deal with it. You could invoice for some extra compensation. You could mention it without asking for extra. You could just include the extra compensation in your next bid because you know things will be the same. You could spell out the game plan on you next bid and forewarn what the delays will cost.

                Of course the biggest option is your walking shoes. In this economy, it might be better to be a good sub, don't leave any punchlist that you can be blamed for, be proactive about possible extra work, and forewarn (and get an agreement about the cost) the gc about the extra charges that you will be charging for delays.

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                • #9
                  Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                  It seems to me the simple solutions is to have written scop of work with ending with a statement such as any additional work will be preformed at what ever your hourly rate is.
                  there is ALWAYS a better way waiting to be discovered-
                  yfc

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                  • #10
                    Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                    Tom,
                    Sounds like a job for an in-house carpenter. I would bid an hourly rate on that stuff and handle picking up the trim and materials you need on the clock. You're a great organizer, probably a couple hours and you would have had everything in your truck and back at the job to knock it out.

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                    • #11
                      Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                      My thought as well. Tom, it sounds like you're much better organized than the GC. So I'd take the bull by the horns, write up a scope, call out items NOT included, how you'll handle delays, etc.

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                      • #12
                        Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                        seem to me that it is failure to communicate in all cases

                        and in all cases it is the subbie that always "cops" it. i work as a subbie most of the time

                        as i see it................. the main contractor is taking the piss most of the time
                        Limey Carpenter

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                        • #13
                          Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                          Tom, I think what the builder is assuming is that you'll pick up a few extra pieces of work without charging for it. He needs that, because he's not that good at scoping, scheduling, or dealing with shifting costs. I do not do that to my subs, but on my jobs, I usually end up doing a few freebies for owners, sometimes because I want to throw something in instead of nickel-and-diming, sometimes because I should have more clearly figured the scope. I just finished a job with 60 hours of labor in it, and threw in about 1-1/2 hours. If I added those hours to the bill the owner would pay them but tacking on a bunch of little tiny charges is like mosquito bites.

                          If something big comes up that is clearly not my problem, I explain it to the owner and give a price for it. Then it's their call.
                          Bailer Hill Construction, Inc. - Friday Harbor, WA
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                          • #14
                            Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                            If you do work that's in addition to scope, the GC owes you for that work, and it's not a case of nickle and dime. I've never had a GC, or anyone else, reduce the scope and not reduce what they were going to pay me.

                            If it works both ways- that you'll get paid the same if you have to do a little more or a little less work, but it's as regularly less work as it is more work, then fine. But that's never happened, it's always adding work, and I've found if you don't charge for extras, the amount of extras grows. Most who complains about getting "nickle & dimed" when getting charged for extra work they requested are people who think it's their right to nickle and dime other people. Allan's subs might know that he always has a certain number of changes and additions and build that into the pricing.

                            But- communication breakdown is what happened on your job, Tom. You both made bad assumptions- him in the scope of work, and you that you could also arbitrarily not do some things to equal out an imagined tally of rights & wrongs. This is a case where two wrongs don't make a right.

                            Bring up issues as they occur, let the GC know that the scope was off immediately and that his delays are making it difficult to finish the job. Don't make it personal, I try to take a "pro-active" approach; "hey, we're short on this, I could pick it up on the way in" or something like that. It can be tough. Sometimes you do just suck it up and call it a learning experience that gets charged to the next several jobs.

                            I don't know much about your area, but I rarely wait for a GC to get material to me. Most GC's are really, really bad at knowing their product and amounts. I always add a part in the contract about materials and wait time- often it's more efficient for me to pick it up, but I'm also close to where all the suppliers are so it's easy for me to pick it up on the way to or from the jobs.
                            http://www.lavrans.com

                            "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

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                            • #15
                              Re: What Are Your Thoughts Regarding Contractors Expecting You To Not Charge Extra?

                              I have often heard that "it only takes a few minutes to do that job or you are already here" If the job is scoped out well, things are specific, then extra are just that. Extra money. Maybe I am just a little aggravated about it at this time but just came off a job like that with the extras.

                              It is a resturant with an area for the band. Contract and plans show how many outlets we are supposed to install in the area that the band plays in. The band sound guy comes in and says we need more outlets to plug stuff in, as in 10 more outlets. This demands a new home run or two, new breakers to be bought, another several hours of work especially since the acoustic ceiling grid is installed and we have to work up in the ceiling. When I mentioned to the owner that there would be an upcharge she was quite livid that that should not be so since I was here, had electricians on the jobsite, she saw rolls of wire and outlets in boxes laying around. It was a bit of a struggle to make sure she understood the reasoning.

                              Other thing about communications. When someone is under the gun to finish a job, get it done on budget, get it done to everyone's expectations, I think reasoning can sometimes go out the door. This can happen to the GC, the sub, the homeowner. No one likes to be nickel and dimed but nickels and dimes add up to dollars and sometimes to hundreds of dollars.

                              Other thing I have to tell you from my point of view as both a sub and as a GC. If I get charged for an extra I charge someone else. It is not usually coming out of my pocket. So if the sub charges the GC he then has to charge the owner. No one likes to be the bad guy and in this case the GC becomes the bad guy to the owner.

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