Saving money on your bathroom renovation by helping the contractor do some work

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by johnfrwhipple, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,827
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    I agreed to a clients request last night to let him help me on a renovation project as my helper. I have an apprentice and he is all trained up so working with someone new may not go so smoothly. But this was what my new client wanted and he is willing to do most of the renovation and only wants me to help with the curbless shower part.

    I held my ground on this prep work and told him it was a deal breaker for me if he did this work. He agreed to that and will basically be my new helper for this job.

    It was an interesting first meeting and he and I hit it off very well. We have had a number of back and fourths and should be starting this job sometime next month.

    How many of you allow the homeowners to help out on a job to reduce the cost associated with a renovation? Where do you draw the line between helper and client?

    My client was very clear that I get to call the shots and he will do what every task I request. I have reduced my bill to just labour and he will source and supply all materials needed for the job. For me this is kind of nice that I need not worry about any material pick up. The plan is to go in hard with me and my apprentice for the first dau after demo and install the new window and do the framing upgrades to the floor. After that my client will get a cut list from me and sketch so he can build the tub deck, after of course he insulates and vapour barriers the exterior wall.

    My client will build the scaffolding for the window work.
    Take it down.
    Do all the demo.
    All the clean up.
    Build the tub deck
    Board the walls (after instruction)
    Water proof the walls (after I do the first coat and train him)
    Install the new subfloor
    Install the cement board (after I show him one sheet on the floors)

    I'll do the cable heat install and his electrcian and plumber will do all the ticked trade work.

    Once this is done we will install Ditra together and I'll do my work on waterproofing the curbless.

    Once we pass a flood test I'll come back for some tile training 101 and him, his wife and buddy will tile the entire job.

    This should net him a designer bathroom on a shoe string budget.

    My biggest reservation is lining other work up for my apprentice when I'm on another job with my client as a helper. I might do this training shifts at night so as to keep my schedule easier to plan.

    How many of you men do stuff like this? Any pointers?



    JW - "When it's perfect. It's Good Enough."

    www.No-Curb.com - my blog site on Barrier Free, No Curb, No Dam and Hobless Showers
    (604) 506-6792 jfrwhipple@gmail.com
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  2. Justadrip

    Justadrip Member

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    New York
    If something does go wrong,who points the finger first??
  3. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,827
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    This is why I won't let him do any of the preparation for the curbless section of the bathroom by himself. I better discuss this with him further and work out the details.

    This homeowner is a very handy man. I have seen his work on other projects when I went by his home and he does great work. He likes to do an insane amount of research and I'm sure he is going to the the job perfectly. Like many of my clients he just doesn't have the budget to sub it all out and does not want to "Practice" a barrier free shower pan and linear drain on his own home. He is very keen to help me and wants to learn a new trade.

    I will double check his work - and while typing this post make sure I stay and help with all the cement board installation. I'd hate to find deflection there and have to rip it up....

    JW
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; How many of you allow the homeowners to help out on a job to reduce the cost associated with a renovation? Where do you draw the line between helper and client

    I would not even consider it, especially if all I was getting from the job was labor. He is not helping you, HE is acting as the general contractor and you are helping him, and getting very little from the exchange. As a customer/friend told me years ago, "If all you get paid for is your labor, you will go broke". Even when a customer supplies SOME materials, I add a "fudge factor" to the price to compensate for having to handle them. I work so tight in your area that you cannot find a "paying" project to work on instead of this thing?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  5. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,827
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    HJ I could take another job but I want to help this guy out. I changed the way I bill a couple years back and now charge a flat rate per hour. I do not mark up materials or sub trades anyway so working by the hour for just labour is fine by me.

    This client and I hit it off. His home is also outside of our general working area but he bribed me with a BBQ and cold beer if I came out to look. I'm a pretty good judge of character and this guy seams solid. If I have time we don't like to turn down any work at all. Take it all and rest in the slow periods.

    I might regret this call to do this but don't think so. I'm flattered that the guy wants me to build the curbless and is working in my fees into his tight budget. When I left his house on the first visit I got a massive bag of frozen bacon and smokies. That is random. I laughed so hard - "No one has ever given me a bag of meat before on a site visit".

    You'll love this. I even offered up a free linear drain. No charge. I'm sitting on a number of samples from a couple years back and before thinking about told him he can have one no charge. LOL

    He has offered even to do work helping me on my home but I'm to fussy to allow this. If I did I would have a hard time telling him he has to work 9 hours on my home to get me to work three on his... That never goes over well.

    JW
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; I changed the way I bill a couple years back and now charge a flat rate per hour. I do not mark up materials or sub trades

    To bad you do not work around here. I make a good living selling jobs and then subcontracting them to you. I have ALWAYS had a "flat rate per hour" charge, but I also ALWAYS marked up EVERYTHING. I also "sell" left over "samples", possibley at a discount, but do not give them away. Customers hire me because of what I can do, not necessarily because of how cheap, (which I try not to be), I am. In fact, I have told some of them that if they want a "cheap" plumber, I can give them some names.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  7. Justadrip

    Justadrip Member

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    New York
    I don't know John but it sounds like the business turned into a hobby on this one.
  8. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,827
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    The room is a great size and it is to far outside our regular service area to make the job appealing. Booking a full two day block will make up for the drive and then getting the homeowner to take care of most of the renovation makes life easier still.

    I told this client like I tell all clients. I charge this an hour working for you here and I charge the same in West Vancouver, North Vancouver and anywhere we work. Pushing a broom, laying out bottom plates or waterproofing a curbless - I charge the same. For me hours are golden - the more logged in the week the better the week.

    On many of our standard new construction work I charge a flat square footage fee. These jobs are much tighter and we need to be well organized, with the driving around if I forget a thing or two the profits in the job fly right out the window.

    This job is more of an "Expierement" to see if I can fully GC a job with little on site visits. The plan is to have a few quick Face Time meetings with everyone as the other sub trades show up.




    JW - "When it's perfect. It's Good Enough."

    www.No-Curb.com - my blog site on Barrier Free, No Curb, No Dam and Hobless Showers
    (604) 506-6792 jfrwhipple@gmail.com
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
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