new bathroom and laundry room being done by contractor

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by janetcal, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. janetcal

    janetcal New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    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
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,891
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    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+

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  3. janetcal

    janetcal New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    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: Oct 25, 2010
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,891
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    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: Oct 25, 2010
  5. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    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: Oct 25, 2010
  6. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Ian, what business are you in?
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    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.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,491
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    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>)
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Ian are you shopping a lot for contractors on CraigsList?
  10. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    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: Oct 26, 2010
  11. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    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: Oct 28, 2010
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,491
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    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.
  13. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,891
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    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: Oct 28, 2010
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    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: Oct 28, 2010
  15. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    Yes, check the breaker FIRST next time Ballvalve.
  16. augusta

    augusta New Member

    Messages:
    97
    Location:
    Augusta GA
    Hey, if you're going to hit below the belt with a particular group in residential remodel / construction - kick the painters! I've got much respect for every group in home building - plumbers, brick masons, tile guys, HVAC, framers, hardwood floor installers, electricians, cabinet installers, drywallers, concrete pouring, and roofers. When I built my 6,000 sq ft 3 story home with pool house, the paint labor estimate was quadruple any other estimate on the home. Painters don't need so much as a single CE course or certification, yet they command the most money and have the highest profit margin. Go figure.

    I hear ya on that. Two things I'd never do for an income (or for free): divorce attorney, or residential home builder. Would much rather shoot myself in the head. Twice.
  17. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    POP the breaker and DROP the bill! Loosen the lugs on the breaker for next months income. Give em' a little squirt of muriatic acid for extra fun! Its a great life.

    Only thing better is peddling toilets and flipping fast food.

    IAN WROTE:Troubleshoot a pump 600 feet down Yes, check the breaker FIRST next time Ballvalve.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010
  18. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Painters are really a bizarre bunch.
  19. suceress

    suceress Member

    Messages:
    159
    Location:
    LA
    Ian, this may sound like an odd question, but from your signature image it looks like you have a pizza place. Am I right? I'm just curious.

    I found this discussion interesting although I won't get in to political debate. To be honest I'm not sure where I stand on certain issues. There are so many different sides to things.

    I was going to say that it doesn't necessarily mean someone is a bad person if they keep getting taken by unscrupulous contractors. Some people just have bad luck and others might be too trusting (or not-so-great radar for the guys that take advantage of people). Sometimes its a combination of both. There are certain groups who are more likely to be taken advantage of. Some unscrupulous contractors will charge women more for things because they believe most women to be ignorant about the prices and how things are done and will say they need more work than they really do. Immigrants are another group that get taken for fools. Of course, there are equal opportunity jerks who will stick it to anyone they possibly can.

    Some areas (like mine) are full of the unscrupulous breed and others have more options and more honest people like the gentlemen on this forum.

    I do agree that there are too many lawyers. This country is very litigious-- of course, lawyers have been a problem as far back as the days of Socrates, so that is nothing new.

    I feel for any contractors who have done work and then had the customers gyp them. I also feel for customers who have been screwed over by contractors. It can sometimes be tough to draw the line and decide how to best protect both parties. Despite the lawyer problem, I do think that a good solid contract is one good way to help and that more customers should try to find out as much as they can about the products and services (but not to the point of trying to tell the contractors how to do their jobs based on a few minutes of web-browsing-- those can be obnoxious backseat driver types) enough to know what they want or to know for certain that they are getting the right person for the job. Of course, with all this talk of getting the right person its not always so easy when one lives in a "bad" area that doesn't have enough of the competent and licensed guys to go around.

    Jeez, I had no idea painters were so expensive. I always do my own painting.
    Here's a painting I did once.
    [​IMG]

    Although I just used white paint and a paint roller when I painted my friend's kitchen (for free).

    And to get back on topic, I have heard that 10% down is a normal deposit before the job starts. What is it 10% down then 50% partway through and the last is after? or does it progress somehow along the way?
    I know someone was saying that the customer should never pay in full until the job is completely done just in case.
  20. Jvinkle

    Jvinkle New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    In Canada you are required to be bonded with an insurance company before you can take money up front. This protects the customer and the contractor. The contractor gets to take money up front and the customer is protected by a government backed bond. If you are not bonded and take money up front you can lose your business license and not be allowed to attain a new one.
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