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My Plan to Optimize Contractors and Begin Taking More Control of Repairs

Mark Ferguson
3 min read
My Plan to Optimize Contractors and Begin Taking More Control of Repairs

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about my difficulties with finding contractors that work quickly and for fair prices.

I have been thinking about starting my own contracting company to take control, get jobs done faster and save some money along the way.

Maybe at some point i will start using the company to work on other jobs and create a business out of it.  First off, I want to thank all the people who posted suggestions and advice on my last article.  A lot of the comments helped me form my strategy moving forward.

What Has Happened with Contractors Since I Wrote That Article?

It is funny how things work, but whenever I focus my energy and thoughts on something, I usually see immediate results.

I used Angie’s List to interview new contractors and I have hired one new contractor who appears to know what they are doing, have a large crew and reasonable prices.  On Angie’s List I sent messages to at least 8 contractors and three responded to me.

The first contractor was the one I hired; he called me right away, set up an appointment right away and got me a written bid in three days.  I estimated the house he bid on would need $15,000 to $20,000 in repairs and he came in at just under $20,000 for his bid.

Related: 9 Tips for Choosing and Managing Contractors

I was very happy with that bid, since the other contractor I have been using was coming in about 30 to 40 percent higher than I thought the jobs should cost.  I was starting to think I couldn’t estimate repairs anymore or prices had skyrocketed!

The second contractor who contacted me back, got back to me right away and we set up an appointment.  He seemed like a decent guy, but did not have a big crew, although he said he could hire people for bigger jobs.

As we were parting ways he then started to ramble on about jobs he did for his landlord and how he had gotten a DUI.  He then mentioned he had a beer one afternoon, then had to drive to an emergency job where the homeowner smelled beer on him.  They then called the cops and he got another DUI.

He said he would get me a bid the next day and one week later I still do not have a bid from him.  Quick tip for anyone bidding jobs or looking for a job; don’t mention multiple DUIs, especially when you got one on the job!

The third contractor turned out to be a painter who did minor drywall work and that was all.  He gave me a bid for a rental property I jut bought and it was almost $5,000 to paint the inside of a 1,800 square foot house and half of one exterior wall.  I guess one out of three is not a bad batting average.

As a bonus, I had a contractor I used to use years ago email me out of the blue last week.  He had quit contracting to pursue a full-time job at a wind turbine production company (giant windmills that produce power).  It was a great job, but he said he wants to start working for himself again and wondered if I needed a new contractor!  I am meeting him next week sometime to see what his plans are.

With New Contractors will I Start my Own Contracting Company?

I have one new contractor that I think will do a great job and be quick.

I am going to test him out on one job to start with and see how it works out.  I learned in the past not to start out new contractors on multiple jobs, that never seems to work well.  Last week I met with an older builder we used to sell houses for.

Related: Make Your Contractors Accountable Without Having To Be There In Person

He has a bunch of rentals, his wife is way up on the ladder in the corporate world and he basically maintains his rentals and takes care of his kids now.  he is not looking to repair any houses, but he gave me some great advice that was mirrored by comments from my other article.

He basically said really good contractors will build houses or move on to commercial projects, because they are more profitable.  The contractors left to do small residential jobs are either not great businessman and don’t scale up to where the money is or not very good contractors.

His advice was to use a general contractor like I have been doing for now, but look to change my model slowly.  He thought I should hire a full-time maintenance person who can handle painting, drywall work and most handyman type activities.  Then I can use subcontractors for electrical, plumbing, roofing, flooring and specialized jobs.  It will take a little more work from me hiring subs, but that is not a big deal.

The big deal will be finding and hiring a good maintenance guy and then figuring out what motivate him.  Once I find one good maintenance guy, I can start to look for another and slowly start moving from suing general contractors to becoming my own general contractor.

I figure I will have no problem keeping a full-time maintenance person busy with my flips rentals and if the wife needs anything done around the house.

Any tips on how to find that great maintenance person?

Be sure to leave your comments below!


Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.