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May 26, 2014 3:13AM
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Write a contract that materials delivered to the job will be paid to the supplier by you.  Include a clause that at each point of completion,  the agreed funds are paid and proof that other materials and subcontract labor has been paid.  Pay with a check that has a lien waiver stamped on the back where it is endorsed for deposit.
There are still many things that could go wrong.  But at least you won't have workman's and materialman's liens piling up for which you will be in a 'pay twice'  situation to maintain clear title on the property.

Sep 10, 2013 8:51AM
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Do you need a contract/business partner.contact me directly at
benjamin_henson@rocketmail.com
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Apr 10, 2013 7:41AM
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My father hired a contractor to put in a elevator 6 months ago. The contractor came and did all the work except the elevator has not come in. The contractor is blaming the supplier and the supplier is blaming the contractor.

Do we have any legal grounds to go after the contractor? They keep saying that it is being shipped but never shows up. Please help.

Feb 11, 2012 10:24AM
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As a contractor in the northeast I deal with many elderly clients in need of remodels for homes they have lived in for 50 + years, and many younger clients that bought those outdated homes. I advise all potential customers to get two estimates, in addition to mine. I ask them to trust their gut feeling about the contractor they feel they can communicate best with, knowing that there are many issues to contend with once their homes are being worked on.    Second bit of advice is to inform them to be sure they choose a licensed contractor. Many contractors claim to to have knowledge of the remodeling process, and maybe they do, but a customers' best recourse in the event of default is to make legal pursuit for action. And that is nearly impossible without accreditation.    Thirdly I offer references and protect the identity of my references by not freely giving out phone numbers or addresses, often email addresses. My references appreciate this and it instills a level of trust with a potential new customer.   I am not usually the cheapest up front bid, and sometimes it costs me a job. In the end, my remodeling jobs come home on time and in budget because of careful up front assessments. Often, eating the charges for something unseen has only made people give great reviews about the company to others. Advertising is good, but referrals are the life blood of good contractors.  
Feb 11, 2012 9:08AM
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As a homeowner, and not a contractor, I can say that most contractors I have delat with have been cheap, morons. While I am sure there may be some good ones out there, I have yet to find them. The best I can tell homeowners is that make sure you get all receipts from contractors so you know the quality of what they bought and what you are paying for. If not, they will buy the cheapest and charge the most.

And try and watch what they are doing when they are actually doing the install. You may not see the bad job they do because its been covered up.

And its OK to ask lots of questions..so do it!

Feb 11, 2012 7:44AM
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This may be the most idiotic article ever written. First, the whole idea that you will get the BEST work for the LOWEST price is just plain stupid. And that includes squeezing any/all profit out of the job by ATTEMPTING to do part of the job e.g. supplying materials. I could give a million examples and some were given by other posters but someone please tell me the other business that will allow a customer to supply their own materials. Ask a mechanic to repair your car with your parts or a restaurant to cook your food, or an electronics store to install your components into their equipment etc etc etc etc. Any contractor who works that way is a FLY BY NIGHT AMATEUR. BTW, when the owner furnished fixtures get damaged on the job who pays to fix or replace the "owner's" materials. When I first started in business - 1976 - I allowed owners to furnish some materials, appliances etc. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE JOBS TURNED INTO DISASTERS - late deliveries, wrong or incompatible equipment, mismatched colors (Every manufacturers pure white is NOT the same) etc etc etc. The contractors "fault" of course. Most people have no idea of the time - and COST - that goes into laying out and coordinating those magazine spreads in the designer mags so they think they can ala cart from them. My advice to any contractor who runs into a customer who wants to furnish their own materials - WALK AWAY, you're only looking for trouble with people like that.
Feb 11, 2012 7:05AM
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A MARK-UP ON MATERIALS IS STANDARD AND JUSTIFIED. 20 TO 30% IS QUITE NORMAL AND WORTH IT. 1) THE CONTRACTOR HAS TO LAY OUT THEIR OWN MONEY TO BUY THE MATERIALS. NOW THEY HAVE POSSIBLY THOUSANDS OF THEIR MONEY TIED UP , UNAVAILABLE TO THEM UNTIL THE JOB IS COMPLETED. 2) IT TAKES HOURS  FIGURING OUT WHAT MATERIALS COST AND WHERE TO BUY THEM. IF THEY MISCALCULATE ITS ON THEM FOR BIG MONEY. NOT ONLY DO THEY HAVE TO BUY NEW MATERIAL ON THEIR DIME THEY ALSO HAVE TO PAY THEIR EMPLOYES TO INSTALL , UNINSTALL THEN REINSTALL SAID MATERIAL. 3) THEY MUST PICK UP OR ARRANGE TRANSPORT   FOR ALL MATERIALS TO THE JOB SITE, HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF FUEL? CONTRACTORS CANT DRIVE TOYOTA'S , WE HAVE TO DRIVE BIG TRUCKS THAT AVERAGE 8 TO 14 MPG.
THAT BEING SAID, WE ARE THE PROS WHO DO THIS FOR A LIVING AND WE GET IT WRONG SOMETIMES.  NOW YOUR TELLING SOME KNUCKLE HEAD THAT DOESN'T KNOW A SCREW FROM A NAIL THAT THEY SHOULD ORDER THEIR OWN MATERIALS AND SAVE?
MOST CONTRACTORS WILL WALK (RUN) AWAY FROM THAT JOB. IM NOT SAYING DON'T BE AN EDUCATED CONSUMER BUT DO YOU GO BACK IN THE KITCHEN AND HELP THE COOK MAKE YOUR DINNER, GO BACK IN THE SHOP AND GRAB A WRENCH TO HELP YOUR MECHANIC?
IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE RIPPED OFF  INSPECT THE JOB EVERY DAY AFTER THE CONTRACTORS LEAVE. ANYTHING THAT LOOKS WRONG PROBABLY IS. TALK TO YOUR CONTRACTOR THE NEXT DAY. SHOW UP ON THE JOB EVERY NOW AND THEN , A COUPLE OF FRIENDLY APPEARANCES GOES A LONG WAY ON IMPRESSING THE CREW. AND ASK QUESTIONS. GUYS WHO DO THINGS RIGHT WILL USUALLY WANT TO SHOW OFF THEIR WORK AND ARE HAPPY TO EXPLAIN WHY THINGS  ARE DONE CERTAIN WAYS.

Feb 11, 2012 6:14AM
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I would say that all the contractors writing here live in the city or close to it. When you live in the country at a good distance from any city it is much different, and if you live on a fixed income you have to watch the penny's. The contractors I use are not ones that belong to any group. I have used same ones over years. found them by ward of mouth and seeing jobs they have done. I have learned to not pay by the hour, but to have a bid up front for the labor and yes I buy the material on some of them as I want good material, and always have enough of everything, with a little left over incase they have a miss figured in measurements. I pay then as the job progresses, or at the end which ever they want. Fixtures I can get at wholesale and buy the ones I like and top of the line. Also have the glue and tape needed for the job. Any lumber needed, I have them ahead of time tell me how much and what they need. I go to the lumber yard and inspect every board I get. I do this as when I lived in town while working at a hospital bought a house that was to be built and would go out several times a week and look at it, at that time just wanted to see it progress, but I found them putting in wood that was a grade 2 or 3 and made them replace that wood didn't make them happy, but learned to watch everything. I only knew the difference because my GrandFather was a carpenter, and use to watch him work and helped at times.,So that is why I check the wood I am paying for and will go into my house or extensions. Yes there are honest contractors but there are also some that don't care and just put up what is delivered and the lumber yard will mix grades of lumber. You are charged for grade 1 and that is what you should have. When lumber is delivered I have tarps down for them to put the lumber on and tarps to cover it as live next to a lake and get a lot of moisture at night. Yes I am picky, but the people that do the job knows it and we get along fine They make a profit and I get good material in the house. Some contractors may not like what I am saying for that I am sorry . I know what the material is going into my home and they get to work with good material and don't have to wait for anything or go after anything and I save that 20% mark up and that helps me pay  them better. It is a win win situation.
Feb 11, 2012 6:10AM
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AS I READ WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID,I MUST AGREE AND RESTATE " DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON ANYONE WHO YOUR TRUSTING TO DO YOUR WORK."  WORD OF MOUTH IS BEST , BUT PROOF OF PRIOR WORK IS KEY.  I HAVE BEEN SOLVING AIR CONDITIONING PROBLEMS FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND HAVE GONE BEHIND A LOT OF OTHERS- I AM NOT PERFECT AND SOMETIMES MAKE MISTAKES BUT I TAKE REASONABLY AND FIX IT AT MY COST. THAT'S PUTTING THE CUSTOMER FIRST.
Feb 11, 2012 6:09AM
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personally I think your all full of crap...I've been in the home renovation/flip industry for well over 10 years...I don't give a line of bs to the homeowner or contractors I work for or sub for...I have one simple guarantee thats always works and gets great results for both me and the people I work for...its simple...I tell them they supply the materials...I don't handle their money and I tell them if they are not satisfied with the job it cost them nothning for my time and labor...I don't have to go back to fix anything because its done right the first time....as for licensing and codes...let me tell you the modern building codes stink...homes that are over 100 years old are still standing and a new stick built home is blown away by heavy winds...so much for your codes...!!!  I agree that word of mouth is by far the best advertising you can have..the trick is to get 3 jobs under your belt to accomplish that
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I am a licensed contractor, but usually sub my labor to other general contractors who I have continually done business for with for years, and home owners who have got my name from someone I have done a job for. Most of the suggestions will end up putting a chip on the shoulder of a person with the real skills, and open the door to people that are desperate for work. (the guy who took a buy- out from a factory 2 years ago and decided to be a contractor) who will put up with that b.s..The best way to get a quality job at a competitive price is to get a contractors name  from someone who has used this person.  Get a bid from them, and two other contractors that have been in business for at least five years, this will keep the referrals price in check, (a mid range price is a very good sign). A decent vehicle with tool boxes or somewhat sign of organization is a clue. Ask the same questions to each, watch for direct eye contact and sincerity.  A basic blue print and a description of the work performed is a plus for both the honest contractor and the home owner. This will give a level playing field for all involved.  Always get a contract before commencement of any deposits or starting of work.     And most importantly never pay the final payment until all work is 100%.  I have not advertised in years. Word of mouth is the best advertising any contractor can get.  And most importantly when work is going on, a box of doughnuts and some coffee in the morning a few times for a sign of appreciation will be passed back on to you and your project. good luck.  
Feb 11, 2012 5:08AM
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Alot of good contractors have been put out of work due to the economy. But not because work dissapeared ,but because of the new contractors that showed up cutting prices and people like a buck but what they dont realize is that save a little now spend alot later.  Alot of these new contractors probably lost their jobs and the first thing they want to do is is jump into construction thanks to the DIY channels. I have no problem with someone trying to make a living, but stick with what you know not just using some great sell tactic leaving the customer thinking all contractors are scam artists. The cheapest is not always the best and you get what you pay for, on the other hand a seasoned contractor can have a lower price at times because they are not guessing at how to do the job. Contractors need to be paid for their time.
Feb 11, 2012 4:09AM
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Also remember, the cheapest bid won't always end up being the cheapest. Sometimes the the guys bidding low end up charging more later or doing a terrible job. You get what you pay for. 

I also agree with contractors saying they have a right to add on to materials because they are finding it and transporting it, that's time and gas. 



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Iam a contractor. and I agree with some of the views here. and dissagree. with some views. some of the experts suggest. that if you charge the lowest  on a bid. that some how that may make you some kind of scammer. that isnt always the case. just cause a contractor drives and older vehicle or charges less doesnt make them a fly by knighter. Ive been in the roofing buisness for over 30 + years. most my workers are family members. all of us have over 20 to 30 yrs experience. an honest contractor should be able show proof of cetificate of Insurance and licences. as for showing proof of materials most building materials stores will print off a receipt for materials to show the customer what they are getting and cost. i have no problem giveing transparentcy to the customer. and they call the store. and go right down a list . I also give a 10 labor warranty on all my labor on roofing. because believe in putting my money ware my mouth is. even though my state only requires a 1 yr. warranty. if do the job to spects and doit right. there is no reason you  cant do it.. and I never had to go back  and fix any thing in over 30 years. theres a lot of contractors who dont take pride in what they do. and  only out for the money. who thinks its ok. to gauge the customers. and they are the ones who make me sick. I dont drive a brand new truck so i dont have to soak the customer for every thing they got. the ones that do. they know who they are. and shame on them. they are the ones that make hard on us  Honest contractors. call me a snitch or what ever. but if i know your out there scamming people  i have know problem exposeing you to the home owners or police.

Dec 3, 2011 12:37PM
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I'm a licensed and insured general contractor in the Denver, CO area. Each city here has its own licensing requirements, some have none at all. Electricians, plumbers and hvac I believe are all state-wide licensed, but ususally need to be registered in whichever city they are working in. I do alot of my own work, but do have skilled laborers I use as well when needed. There are alot of shady so-called contractors out there for sure that I have to compete with, and they make me very mad and my job that much harder.  I usually ask for at least 25% up front for materials and some labor cost, (I can't be anyone's bank) and do what I call "landmark" draws, (agreed upon completions, usually at rough-in inspection, drywall completion, etc.) often another percentage, and they are all laid out in the contract. If homeowner does not do the draw, I pack up and leave. When job is done, I do a walk thru with client, have final inspections and once everything is signed off, ask for final payment, once it clears, give client a lein release, and job is done. I always do change orders and ask for immidiate payment on changes so neither side has to argue over it at end of job. I do on occasion install client's material, but always make sure they understand it is not included in warranty. I do mark up material I supply, to pay for my time and resources used for getting material. This way usually works, and respect for your client goes along way in getting respect back.

Dec 3, 2011 11:42AM
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   I've been in the bussiness for 17 years. The thing homeowners and the people on the other side of this coin don't understand is It also costs the contractor time chasing materials. Every one claims thier time is valuable, well so is the contractor's time. Why should the contractor give list price for material when he has to spend his time and fuel picking the stuff up. If I give you a price on materials, You better bet that I will also get compensated for my time.

  If you spend 3 hours chasing materials specified by the Homeowner, then 8 hours at the jobsite, should you only get paid for 8 hours? The contractor should be fairly compensated for time spent and not have to pay out of his pocket to pricematch the local hardware or some online price guide. It would compare to ordering something and not have to pay the shipping charges.

Dec 3, 2011 11:27AM
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Having been a licensed contractor, new as well as remodels, I have issues with many of the statements made in this article. I will not go into all of them, but will address the one that bothers me the most. The right to fire clause is total BS! I have had any people ask for this in the contract and have only honored it one time and never will again. This gives the homeowner way too much leverage. I had been getting paid, as per our draw agreement, during the whole project until the final phase. I know they ran into money issues because i began working with them as the project neared its end. As I finished my final punch-out list to complete the job the woman gave me another list of made up issues she had with the job and told me since I had not fulfilled the contract I was fired. Mind you this was on the last day of the project. Since there was a clause in the agreement this gave them the right to screw me only because their situation changed. They now had a completed total home remodel and I was left to take them to court to receive the rest of my money...close to 12,000. I did take them to court and won, but this process took over 8 months and cost me another $1000 for an attorney. I advise any contractor out there to NEVER allow this to be added to your contract. This gives them the right to fire you on a whim, although it will never hold up in court. P.S. The sad thing is that our small claims court has a limit of $6000 so i ended up losing over half of what I was owed.
Dec 3, 2011 11:10AM
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Do you take your parts to your auto mechnech ?  all fixtures are not the same, alot of the cheap crap out there isnt worth installing. People dont get the acessories needed to install the fixtures for their applacations, these cost are normally figured in to the price. Most installations done by homeowners do not meet code. Contractors are required to do it right, not half assed. One out of a hundred contractors might take advatage of someone, only because the consumer wants it cheap. Cheap price cheap job.
Dec 3, 2011 10:54AM
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Try taking bacon and eggs into an restaurant and having the cook fix them for you at half price (labor )  it wont happen i have done several jobs where the homeowner bought the materials either they didn't get enough or way too much and then got the wrong type  cause they went down to the local home improvement store and someone there told them to get this that and the other stuff. i tell homeowners i don't try to tell you how to do your job please respect me enough to do the same for me. If a homeowner has something they want installed out of the ordinary i usually do it but with a no guarantee clause in the contract and i tell them exactly why i cant guarantee it . Also the owner that keeps coming by and wants me to "just move that over one inch or attach that here instead of  over there " gets the add on or changes to agreed job description charges " i do have a satisfaction upon completion of work in my contracts and have only once had someone not pay for work i did until i fixed a leaky fixture. 

some contractors are crooks and most clients are skinflints its all part of the job. 

Dec 3, 2011 10:46AM
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In our business, we quote a price for a material that includes installation- so when a homeowner 'goes to a home improvement store to get a price' as happens frequently, my husband will ask them if they would like to pick up, measure, cut and install said item as well- price of this extra is spelled out clearly in our contract.  It isn't always just the 'cost' of materials.
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