I think blogs are a great way to vent. I've been in the remodeling field for 35 years. There are not many things I haven't seen. I'm pretty easy going so things usually don't bother me enough to get off my lazy butt to write about it.
We presently have a whole house remodel going. We are changing the kitchen, family, dining, and living room. The owner wants the upstairs painted also. Our normal painter is too busy to work us into their schedule so we have been painting in house with my carpenters. With this in mind, I just want to paint the jobs that we did the carpentry work at, not use my carpenters to be painters. That being said, we are a full service contractor so I started calling painting contractors to find a new one. Once I find a sub contractor I like, we quit looking around. It's more important to us to have a team member I can count on instead of getting the lowest price on every job. After sending 3 painters into meet the owner, we hired the one that she liked best. We were satisfied with his history of good work so we had him paint the downstairs also.
Boom, done the job is going to be great, being a general contractor is easy! The painter started on Friday, Friday night I'm getting calls that the painter had used a spray painter and didn't cover windows, trim, outlets or fixtures. What the heck is going on?! I texted the painter and found he was too busy so he hired another contractor to do the work for him. Needless to say, they are now cleaning up the job before they can go further. The owner is backing out of now painting the upstairs. The fact that the owner picked this sub makes the call more pleasant but doesn't make the solution any easier.
This happened to us last year with a flooring contractor. He hired another sub to do the work and didn't supervise the sub. The sub botched the whole job. My supplier hired another contractor at his expense to make it right, but the job was set back three weeks while they removed all traces of the previous sub. The owners were glad it was made right, but not happy with the extended schedule.
Being a good general is like being an orchestra conductor. We give everyone the same sheet music. We go over the music during rehearsal so it will be perfect and the audience will love it. Every once in awhile you have a band member that is having a bad day and messes up the beat. I don't know why, when you ask them, they don't know why. What I do know is even though we get it right from then on, the audience is never as exited as when they first came. The entire orchestra gets a black eye, not just the weak member. This is why I'm slow at hiring new subs, or employees. I don't like getting a black eye.
I was recently in a potential client’s home to look at a whole house remodel.
The conversation went something like this" I need a price to remodel my kitchen, relocate master bath, and change kids bath. I would like you to use some of the existing cabinets, remove this wall and change the living room/pantry". There were no plans or specs on the job. I asked as many questions as I could and went back to the office to figure a estimate to see if she was serious. When I returned with an estimate she said it was more then she had figured. The owner decided she would be her own general contractor and save the money paid to a general contractor to manage the job.
As I drove away from the job I got thinking about the process of remodeling. I have spent years learning to be a successful Remodeling general contractor and this owner is planning to do what I do in one project. I decided to write a blog (my first one) to help people be their own general contractors. Well maybe not everything but, I'm not writing a book just a blog.
This topic: "Details"
If you want to be your own contractor and plan to get prices from subcontractors you need details. Details will save you money and save many a sleepless night. Before you bring in a single sub get some plans made showing before and after. You don't have to hire someone like me, you can do it yourself. The goal is, put details in your plans to relay your thoughts to whoever is looking at your plans. eg. What walls are you going to remove, how wide will the opening be, is there plumbing in the wall, how about electrical, is the wall load bearing, how will the floor be finished? If you let the contractors figure this out you will have three different prices for three different projects. It is a recipe for hurt feelings and angry disputes. Over my career I have been asked to testify on the owners behalf at least twice, both these disputes were caused from poor communication. The owner had unfulfilled expectations, the contract thought he did more then asked. When I don't have the details in my plans it usually cost me money. When I figure the cost of a new job that has no details I add money to my price for unknowns. I don't want the project to cost me more then it cost the owner.
I recently redid a bathroom. My description of work stated we will supply can lights in the bathroom. I was thinking simple can lights and the owner was thinking LEDs with adjustable colors. If the details are not written down and it is up for debate both parties will feel they didn't get what they wanted. As I don't belief in arguing with my client we put in LED lights.
Avoid these problems with detailed plans.
Jerry Coussens CR