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Thread: new bathroom and laundry room being done by contractor

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    DIY Junior Member janetcal's Avatar
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    Question new bathroom and laundry room being done by contractor

    I am thinking of hiring a contractor to put in a new bth and laundry room for me in a rental apt. The contractor says he is booked until january. That is not a problem for me although he says he needs a deposit to hold the date of 1000.00 Is this normal? Do all contractors do this? The job will cost 10,000 any suggestions. thanks Janet

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    A lot of the successful contractors do that.

    One boss I had said to take the check, it ends the shopping.

    There is nothing worse then booking out workers and sub contractors for a job and find that the customer went with someone else. Been there, done that. It puts a big hole in your revenues when you are not on the job installing.

    Personally on a remodel job, I wouldn't block out the time without a contract and deposit.
    And I don't care about what local law says about it. They don't worry about making my house payment, I do.

    What kind of guarantees do others have in their workplace?
    Would you work for someone if they didn't promise some sort of employment, or do you wait for a phone call to come in?

    You can check their rating with the BBB
    Mines A+

    Last edited by Terry; 10-25-2010 at 04:14 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member janetcal's Avatar
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    Smile

    thank you Terry. I just wasent sure if this was done often.... I agree with you totally. thank you for your help...how much or percentage do you ask for? thanks again
    Last edited by janetcal; 10-25-2010 at 04:24 PM.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    When I was doing more, it was 50%
    Those were small jobs like the one you mentioned.
    With 50%, a contractor can buy materials and at least be covered that way. That's what my boss with the family owned business started in 1917 told me.
    You're quite a bit out still on the schedule though. His deposit seems fair to lock up the dates.
    I haven't been doing too much remodel lately though, more one or two days jobs with pretty generic stock. If I don't use it at one job, I will on the next. My business is more pure plumbing now, less of the general contracting.
    When you start picking flooring, bathtubs and cabinets, then you need to firm things up. Those things are personal choice items that would be hard to sell if not installed for the original buyer.
    It's called making the buyer commit. At least that's what we can call it here.
    I know that whenever I buy carpet, they take full payment before they make the cut off the big rolls or factory order it.
    Last edited by Terry; 10-25-2010 at 04:40 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    I've been stung before with deposits, so be careful before you put a grand on the line.

    Make sure he is reputable and local, not just the first one you found in the Yellow Pages. Make sure you know someone who he has done work for before.

    I've lost hundreds in deposits with contractors that failed to turn up repeatdely so much so that, in the end, you just take the hit and give up trying to chase them. The last one was supposed to replace a double-glazed unit in a window of mine that got smashed. I ended up ordering the unit and doing that myself.

    Where I live that's called "the Police not doing their job properly."

    And get a few more quotes. A deposit is part of the cost. Perhaps there is an equally good local firm out there that will not ask for one.
    Last edited by Ian Gills; 10-25-2010 at 05:10 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Ian, what business are you in?

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    In CA, a contractor can ask for 10% of the contract, or $1000, whichever is LESS, in advance. After that, it is progress payments and material delivery payments, as spelled out in the contract.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Anyone who has "lost hundreds in deposits with contractors", has to have questionable procedures when "hiring" them. Are you ALWAYS looking for the cheapest price? VERY FEW "reputable" contractors would perform that way, unless YOU are one of those customers who contractors do not want to work for. (Some statements you have made might make me less than enthusiastic to even give you a price quote>)

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Ian are you shopping a lot for contractors on CraigsList?

  10. #10
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    Ian, what business are you in?
    Anyone who has "lost hundreds in deposits with contractors", has to have questionable procedures when "hiring" them. Are you ALWAYS looking for the cheapest price? VERY FEW "reputable" contractors would perform that way, unless YOU are one of those customers who contractors do not want to work for. (Some statements you have made might make me less than enthusiastic to even give you a price quote>)
    Ian are you shopping a lot for contractors on CraigsList?
    I'm foreign. You all know that. But I'm not a witch.

    When I first came to this country, and bought my first house, I was naive enough to think that America's plumbers, electricians and all its other contractors were required by law to be i) licensed; ii) reputable and iii) to do work to code as they are in most other places in the world, at least those that are not in the Third World. Also, as in other countries where I have lived, I believed (falsely) that these requirements were enforced by law.

    So, as in England when I needed a service here I took the Yellow Pages and called a contractor from it. For small jobs (under $1000) I would rarely ask for more than one quote. Everywhere else I have lived this works. You get quality services for a reasonable price, give or take a few hundred dollars compared to if you shopped around. Peanuts compared to taking more time off of work. Everywhere else if there are any problems, you either call the police (if they are unlicensed), call the authorities (if they do not do the work to code) or take them to a small claims court without incurring any legal costs (for example if you pay a deposit and they do not show). After all, they're in the Yellow Pages, right, so they must be legit otherwise someone would have shut them down?

    Not so in America, it would appear, where "freedom" means a contractor can be listed in the Yellow Pages, for example, run an ad on TV or put a flyer through your door and be none of these things. They can be unlicensed. Even the licensed ones can fail to do work to code. Or fail to pull permits. And they can take people's deposits and not show up for the work. You have very little recourse here, unless you are willing to pay hefty legal fees which I am not, not for a few hundred dollars here and there anyway. And all because Americans are still scared of the Commies and big Government so much so that they'd rather have no rules, or at least no enforcement because there's no Government to do the enforcing! Ever met a county inspector that wasn't rushed off his feet, booked up for weeks in advance and could stay more than five minutes before moving on to his next job? Thought not. Ever wondered how a guy as busy as that could ever find the time to intervene in unlicensed, unpermitted work that's not to code? I have. And the answer is he can't. Because not having a Big Government means not having enough of the public officials this country and its citizens so desperately deserve. I love all your rules and the way you have no means to enforce them.

    So it took me quite some time, and getting my fingers burnt on more than one occassion I'll admit, to realise the peculiar way you have to doing business here (word of mouth, only trust local firms and all that). No other country would tolerate the types of cowboys you have operating as contractors. But then again, you've had cowboys run the country so perhaps it's not so much of a surprise that y'all think it's normal. Heck, when even an actor makes the top job anyone with a proper career title must look impressive. Even in the Yellow Pages.

    What makes matters worse is that work not to code is ultimately the responsibility of the homeowner and not the contractor. How can this country justify such a silly rule? Almost as silly as contractors pulling permits being the responsibility of the homeowner. Who's protecting the elderly in all this? Man up America and get a bigger Government.

    And work from the principle that every contractor you are considering to hire is a thief and a cheat unless you can prove otherwise through taking some of the steps I mentioned in my earlier post. Local firms. And word of mouth. It's the only way to go.

    Or DIY like I do. And do your best to get an appointment with the inspector. He's busy, like I said.

    If you live anywhere else other than America...hire someone from the Yellow Pages. It's simpler that way. But you already know that because you've long wised up to the fact that the Communists aren't coming after you. They simply have better things to do.
    Last edited by Ian Gills; 10-26-2010 at 04:24 PM.

  11. #11
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Give a contractor 50% for work due in January? Yeah right.... Better to head for Vegas! 95% are home watching reruns of the Simpsons these
    days anyway.

    Against the law to even ask in most every state in any event.

    The contractors you trust are the ones that don't NEED the money up front, and have the honor and integrity to know that they will be paid because they only do good work and make things right by their word.

    Anyone remember those days?

    And Ian, our county inspectors are 4 out of 5 laid off, and can spend the whole day on one job.

    We will have to dunk you to determine the witch issue definitively.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 10-28-2010 at 12:46 AM.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; And all because Americans are still scared of the Commies and big Government so much so that they'd rather have no rules, or at least no enforcement because there's no Government to do the enforcing!

    The real problem is that we have TOO MANY lawyers, and they are all greedy, and NONE have ever defended a guilty person. Here the Registrar of Contractors enforces the licensing laws, but since they are also lawyers, they do not want to spend time and money litigating against unlicensed contractors when it is much easier to "harass" and fine licensed contractors when an unhappy customer decides to file a complaint rather than pay his bill.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Ballvalve,
    In your line of work, you drill a hole in the ground and pop in a pump.
    Its like a service call. We treat service calls the same way. If it's standard stuff we have on the trucks, or standard inventory items we carry, then a deposit isn't needed.
    It's just a simple job, like the kind you do. Pop and drop. Done.

    Contractors that do remodel need to treat it differently.
    A contractor shouldn't be on the hook for tile, vinyl, cabinets, special order fixtures without payment up front for those items. Those are non-inventory items.
    A contractor isn't a bank.
    With a remodel, there is a lot of hand holding, and design requirements that need to be gone over, sometimes shopping with the client to pick out the items.
    All of that time spent, is worth something.

    I quit doing full remodel when I had too many clients take my plans to give to a competing contractor.
    Of course the other contractor didn't have to spend any time with the client going over the wish list, or drawing up a plan that would get them a building permit.
    They even had a contract to look at with all of the items and quantities listed. All he had to do was take my set of plans and purchase list and beat me by five dollars.
    When I had a few customers do what, not even paying me for the plans, I went back to pure plumbing jobs.
    Jobs like ballvalve does. Pop and drop, no thinking type of work. Service calls that can be done right off the truck.
    A lot less time is wasted on my part.

    If I had taken a $1000 depost on those jobs, at least I would have been paid for the plans.
    The funny thing, or not so funny thing, was that one of the non-paying customers called me up a year later and wanted me to design bathrooms in their "new" home that they had just bought. Was he smoking crack?
    Last edited by Terry; 10-28-2010 at 09:42 AM.

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    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    I wish I was a pop and drop. No thinking type work? I must have kicked your Toto somewhere along the way. Maybe it was that silicone.

    Troubleshoot a pump 600 feet down, rebuild an electric furnace, keep four kids in line building a new rental all in one day. Sounds like push and drop dead to me. I will trade you to sell a porcelin commodity and set some wax rings anyday.

    Would never do a remodel except for myself - too much stress and carnage between personalities, and arguments about "deposits" and timing. Coronary inspiring work.

    Every job gets the personality review in my world. Some get a thick contract with a huge deposit even if illegal [testing!] and some get the whole thing done, 15 - 30 thousand dollars without even a handshake. Always got paid. Never went to court in 45 years.

    Sometimes I am a bank, but it sure gets repeat customers that pay like clockwork.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 10-28-2010 at 11:19 AM.

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    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    Troubleshoot a pump 600 feet down
    Yes, check the breaker FIRST next time Ballvalve.

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