Home Renovation Homicide – “I Have a Guy”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following from perspective clients-“I have a guy”, “I did it In college”, “my father in-law is a retired engineer”, “my best friend does it on the side”, “my wife has a friend whose husband does it”.  These are all red flags to walk away from a potential job.  Not because I don’t believe their contacts can’t do some part of a potential project, but rather they are going to inhibit us from completing a job in a timely fashion without interruption.

Everyone thinks that they know construction and how to manage a house renovation.  Unless you do it on a full time basis you have no idea about the amount of coordination it takes.  The aforementioned comments tell me that the potential client thinks there is a short cut or will save money on the project completion.  What they don’t realize is when we finish a phase of the project and we have informed them in writing and numerous phone calls stating that we will be ready for his brother to go ahead and install the floor tile, he is nowhere to be found.    Because the owner’s brother who works a full time job for some company forgets to tell them, “oh by the way our family is taking a two week vacation so I will get it done upon my return”.  When he returns he is so behind on his full time job that he has no time to do the tile installation.  Now the job has been sitting for two weeks with no potential remedy in sight.  We have to give the owner a change order to cover the additional costs incurred for the additional time of having a portable toilet and fencing on site, dumpster and other items that were budgeted for that job.  Did the brother also forget to tell you that he never got around to ordering the tile and it’s not available now or will take six weeks to come in?  Is he going to be responsible to schedule the delivery of the tile and be there to receive the shipment? Once the tile is delivered, was the correct quantity delivered and how many tiles are broken and have to be replaced?  Is he responsible for returning the tile and ordering more?  Damn, he forgot to order the bullnose pieces.

Since the tile work was not in our contract we are now asked to go ahead and give the client a change order for the tile installation.  Unfortunately my tile guy isn’t available for two weeks because he is committed to another project.  So now we have lost almost a month because “my brother will do the tile work”.  What the owner sees is that he isn’t holding up the job but we are and he is frustrated.   This is when I kindly explain to him that the job has been sitting vacant for four weeks because we were told he would take care of the tile work.  The owner is now going to pay for my tile guy at my rate, my overhead and profit, the additional cost for the aforementioned items and delaying the time that we finish the project.  Remember how he wanted to save money?  Now he is paying more than if he would have had us do the work from the beginning.

We emphatically explain to our clients that we either do all of the work or none of the work, period.   We utilize our subcontractors so that we can give them a fair rate and coordinate a timely schedule for completion.   Our subs are also licensed and insured so if by chance something goes wrong, any damage will be covered.  If the owner’s brother breaks a water line and floods the house, who is going to be responsible and who is going to repair all the work that we have completed to date?  So if you want to take short cuts and try to save money, just remember the old saying “you can pay me now or pay me later”.  Hire the contractor to do the complete job, don’t try to cut corners, it will only cause problems and ultimately delay the completion.