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work pricing question

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  • Mike Arthur
    started a topic work pricing question

    work pricing question

    hey everybody

    Im not sure if this is the correct forum, if not apologies. Im a maintenance and facilities manager for a living, and Ive worked in construction for 20 years. I spent the majority of my career working for an ultra high end custom home builder in the Boston area in various capacities, from carpenter to supervising small projects in 100k range. Ive done many estimates but they were always in the realm that my company was operating, ie super high end, perfection is the ultimate goal, price is secondary. As a recent homeowner Im finding that the experience i have has not been super helpful to me for both existing relationships with vendors to do work on my house, and to know whether the prices im hearing are fair.
    I had an experience with a masonry contractor this week that highlighted this to me and i was hoping to get some of your opinions on the issue. I had two companies in to give me estimates on repointing the interior of my rubble foundation, installing a sump, and doing some repairs and waterproofing on the exterior exposed part of my foundation. Both companies were "basement and foundation specialists" one company came and gave me a proposal, but it didnt contain all the details i had requested, and wrangling getting them to ammend the proposal and price was such a hassle that i wrote them off, and the second guy seemed very reasonable and communicative. so i went with him. both numbers were similar so i felt comfortable with his price. he asked if he could come earlier than i had wanted to complete the interior repointing work, which he had broken out on his proposal at $2100 (its a tiny house). his guy came and did the work and did a good job, cleaned up after himself well and was generally pleasant an communicative. he completed all the work in about 7 hours. since it was a fixed price and i had agreed to it, I already paid the invoice but this seems outrageously high to me. when i agreed to the price i had thought, "im not a mason and ive never repointed a rubble foundation, but it seems like alot of work" that price seemed reasonable, but if he was able to achieve it with one guy, 7 hours of work and lets call it 10 bags of mortar...i feel like i got poked.
    like i said i paid him because i agreed to it, but i called him after and just told him how i felt and asked him if he could explain how that price was what it was, and his explanation was basically " thats what it was worth to me to do it" and wasnt able to provide any info about what the hourly rate he typically estimates his guy at, what his markup is or anything like that. I told him to think about it for a day or two and we can talk again about what he wants to do about the rest of the work on the proposal, which i am no longer ok with doing at the current pricing. im not here to beat a guy up but i also dont want to walk away feeling like a rube, and i dont know enough about how people that own small companies like this make ends meet to feel absolutely confident that im not just busting on him

    thoughts? advice? thanks for anything you feel like sharing.

  • dgbldr
    replied
    Jon, welcome to the forum. You copied your material from my post #4. Kindly send a check for royalties.

    Leave a comment:


  • JonColyer
    replied
    Never count other people's money. Focus on getting the best job you can at a competitive price.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mike Arthur
    replied
    KFC-Beezo-DGBLDG i think youre right about me missing the point a little. obviously this is a part of the industry that is not in my wheelhouse. I do appreciate you guys taking the time to talk to me. Now lets let this thread fade away( i cant figure out how to delete it), and maybe the next time i ask a question with my actual name attached Ill make sure its not as a homeowner.
    Last edited by Mike Arthur; 03-14-2019, 07:25 AM.

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  • m beezo
    replied
    one of the questions that I have asked my client when he asks me why it cost so much when it only took a certain amount of time is if it had taken me longer than I thought and I came to them asking for more money would they pay for that cost difference. No is usually the answer. Or I don't understand the question.

    The other thing I have used as an illustration actually came from my dad who was a mechanic for nearly 25 years. He told us that if a brake job came in they quoted the price of whatever amount it was going to be and then immediately put Joe on the job. Joe could crank out a brake job faster than anyone else, usually in about half the time the book price said it was going to take. This was not a shop that only did brakes but did everything from transmission and engine rebuilds to brakes and window motors and everything in between. They never apologized for what it cost.

    He did say one difference between our remodeling and the mechanic shop is that most people dropped off a car and were told it would be at least all day or longer to get it done. There was no one looking every day at what was done like they might on a remodeling job. They had no idea who did the job or how long it took so while they knew it probably did not take 2 days to do a brake job they did not know how long it took. He also said they never got one dropped off, did it right away and called to tell the customer it was ready as soon as it was ready. So they never knew if it was a 2 hour job or a 6 hour job.

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  • kfc510
    replied
    Originally posted by Mike Arthur View Post
    I can tell I hit a nerve with you and probably others here for the reason you explained, and thats understandable. I dont really feel like I have anything to apologize for to the mason, like i said i paid him, I just had some questions that i asked in a respectful and honest way, I wasnt looking to argue with him or even get him to change his price, but i was looking to protect my own interests, if your skin is so thin as a business owner that you cant engage in an open conversation with clients about billing, then i dont know what to say to that either. luckily for me the owner of that business didnt seem to be as offended as you.
    I don't think you get the main point of DG's reply.

    It's not that anyone's feelings were hurt and you should apologize to restore some tradesman's tender ego...

    It's that you should apologize because you (should) want that guy to want to do the rest of the work. At least according to the information you gave us he's your best option.

    Price was in line with the market according to you.
    Guy was reasonable to deal with according to you.
    Work was done well and fast according to you.

    What's the problem?

    Leave a comment:


  • dgbldr
    replied
    Originally posted by Mike Arthur View Post
    I wasnt looking to argue with him or even get him to change his price, but i was looking to protect my own interests
    What you are doing is like this: You buy a new $50k truck and then you see a video showing Ford cranks it out in 32.7 minutes. So now you call Ford and ask them to justify their price.

    I'm not in the least bit offended and you didn't hit any nerve. It's deja vu all over again. Most of us on this forum are old enough to have heard this line of reasoning many, many times. It gets old after a while.

    I am being direct. I'm trying to tell you that 1. You have no clue and no basis to evaluate what it costs that contractor to do business and 2. Yes there are many people and businesses making more money than you and 3. You're hurting yourself by barking up the wrong tree and possibly losing a good supplier in the process.

    I will repeat. Never count other people's money. Focus on getting the best work you can at a competitive price.

    And one more point, which you should be very familiar with from your construction background. "Open conversation with clients about billing" on a fixed price project does not include questioning the contractor's internal cost structure or profits. If you want to pay the guy by the hour, you should ask him to work for you on a T&M basis.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mike Arthur
    replied
    what can i say to that? i appreciate the honest feedback. I can tell I hit a nerve with you and probably others here for the reason you explained, and thats understandable. I dont really feel like I have anything to apologize for to the mason, like i said i paid him, I just had some questions that i asked in a respectful and honest way, I wasnt looking to argue with him or even get him to change his price, but i was looking to protect my own interests, if your skin is so thin as a business owner that you cant engage in an open conversation with clients about billing, then i dont know what to say to that either. luckily for me the owner of that business didnt seem to be as offended as you.
    Im tempted to explain why I try not call contacts I have from when i worked for a GC, but that seems to be beside the point. your first point about this being a peer to peer forum is spot on though, and I shouldnt have posted here about this. Ill take it down.
    i am about to move across the country with my wife, and am seriously considering starting my own business. Perhaps once i have some more relevant questions ill be lucky enough to get some less hostile advice from you.

    Leave a comment:


  • dgbldr
    replied
    Mike, as you probably noticed, this is a peer to peer forum for construction pros. While you clearly are a pro, you are asking a HO question and many here are weary of HOs posting questions of the "contractor done me wrong" type.

    My advice is this: go apologize to the guy and beg him to do the rest of the work. My second advice is this: never count other people's money.

    Let's see. The guy is the only one you can find to do the work without a hassle. His price is the same as the guy who is a pain to deal with. He does the job well and in record time and now you're unhappy with the price you agreed to? You've got to be kidding me. Would you be happier if he took a week to do it? How would that be more beneficial to you?

    And one other thing. 20 years in construction and you don't know any masons who could give you an opinion as to how much that type of job should cost? None of your contacts know any? I find that difficult to believe.

    Leave a comment:

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