PSA: Choose Your Contractor Carefully
Public Service Announcement: I’ve been hearing some horror stories about renovations, remodels and additions from clients who have not done their full research and due diligence about other contractors they’ve chosen over us. I got a call from a Navy veteran here in Virginia Beach who chose another contractor because he was going to save a couple thousand dollars but mainly the contractor claimed to be able to do a second story addition over the garage in four weeks. This contractor is now going into week eight and has snuck in the wrong shingles and flooring while the customer was doing work ups for deployment for two weeks and then on family vacation for two weeks. He has given him all but $7,000 of the contract based on pictures the contractor sent while he was gone.
In five minutes, we found lots of information online about why not to use this contractor but no Google page, website, Facebook page or anything about his business. How do you make a decision this large about your family and your home without doing this research? Now the owner has lost confidence in the contractor, called me back for assistance in correcting the job professionally and asked for legal guidance.
As well here is an analogy I thought of recently to help explain the current condition of our market. In real estate there are buyer’s markets and seller’s markets depending on supply and demand. It’s the same in any business. In construction there are general contractor’s markets and subcontractor/vendor markets based on supply and demand. Right now, it is not a general contractor market. There is more work to go around than there are reasonable subcontractors and vendors to provide for it. People do not care about getting deliveries on time and do not care about the quality of their work because they are taking on more work than they can handle and money is coming in from all of over the place to cover up the mistakes that are being made in business.
Now, there are also the few businesses that DO care about their clients and are trying to do everything within their will to make it work. It’s my job to help explain this phenomenon before we start and I have failed to do that in a few instances recently so as clients request changes, there is a false expectation that a one day change means the project will be delayed one day. When there is a decision made to alter the course of events many times through a project, it takes away our ability to do the work timely and organized. One day waiting for a decision mid-project could move the job two weeks by trying to reorganize five different trades that are impacted by the decision. They may have to go to work somewhere for the day that they were supposed to be on your job, but the job they had to start instead might take a few days before we can realign them. Take that times five trades and it’s a scheduling nightmare.
So, the moral is, do your homework to find the right contractor first. Manage your expectations for this kind of market. Next, think through and fully design your project with your contractor before commencement (we now won’t even start until we have this plan fully in place to protect our clients and ourselves). Lastly, allow the professionals to do their work including punch out and quality control. This will help better manage everyone’s expectations from the beginning and set the bar for a more successful project.