Is it Normal for Contractors to Request...?

14 Replies

So I have a pretty hefty list of repairs the from the home inspection of a fourplex I want to purchase. This is my first purchase and first time ever reaching out to contractors, but I'm not sure if some of their requests are normal. One sub asked do I pay for gas for him to come bid on the repairs. The other sub had an initial electrical evaluation fee of $100/unit- $400 before even providing a bid? Am I tripping or are these typical requests?

@Danielle J. 

These requests seem odd. I am not sure about the market you live in, but I have never had to pay for gas for a contractor or evaluation fees in order to get a bid and I have received many bids in the past from a host of different subs. 

Another item to consider: if your contractor can't afford gas to come do a bid, he may lack liquidity and cash to perform his services without coming to you with his hand out. 

They are probably used to a ton of people shopping but not doing anything and/or shopping a ton of people and wasting everyones time.

Too many people try to shop around and be ultra cheap.
The best customer already has an idea of costs, and is reasonable. Doesn't need the lowest bid, but a contractor they like and are being charged a reasonable rate -- and then move on with the project.

I don't even bother getting more than 1 or 2 quotes 99.99999% of the time. If the price seems fair and I like the guy, then its a GO. 

However, the vast amount of time wasting "customers" have really skewed contractors views of customer service.

@Chris G. I'm new to all this stuff, but I am not cheap. I believe in paying good money for great work. I just want to make sure that prices are fair and that I'm not being hit with unnecessary fees, especially up front. I definitely don't have the time to waste anyone's time that's why I quickly declined the subs evaluation fee, just didn't seem right.

What part of LA is the four plex in? I can refer you to my contractor that is just finishing up a complete house rehab (everything - electrical, plumbing, roofing) for me this week.

@Chris G. It's in Redlands, CA. I can't afford a fourplex in LA yet lol! If you don't mind DM me your contractors info. Thank you for your two cents too!

As a contractor for the past 26 years I have never charged (until recently) any fees for project quotes. I was getting pretty tiered of writing proposals for tire kicker investors or any RE purchaser for that matter. If a property requires 25K worth of repairs or renovations, it's pretty common for me to spend 4 hours or more meeting with and estimating the project. All for free.

My phone used to ring off the hook with agents looking for free estimates. Our company policy now is to only supply free estimates to the current property owner. If you do not own the property there will be charges applied that will be credited back if we end up with the contract.

Wow - never. I have had to pay mileage for some jobs when the crew had to come from another town, but that was stated as part of the deal up front. 

If a potential contractor gave me such silly charges, I'd write them off immediately. There are better vendors out there - keep looking.

Its possible there's now enough activity in your area that contractors have plenty of work.   Combine that with a lot of tire kickers looking for help estimating rehab costs and contractors are wanting compensation for their "free bids".  No, I've never had to pay for getting a bid, either.   But you also say you're not the owner.  For many, that's a kicker.  You may end up having to pay someone to get an estimate if you need this before the purchase.  After the purchase I think these fees will go away.

I think the key is that you don't actually own it yet.  The contractor knows that getting the work is something of a long shot, so he doesn't want to waste his time.  You might very well get a different response one you actually own the property.

@Danielle J.  How you present yourself to the contractor could significantly impact the quote, schedule and up front fees.  If they see your serious and ready to play ball any good contractor is not going to hit you with these nickel fees up front.  

Find a new contractor or evaluate your presentation.


Frank

Frank Romine, Real Estate Agent in CA (#01957844)

@Danielle J.  I think @Richard C.  hit the nail on the head.  You don't own the property.  It is not that you need the work done at this point, it is that you need the estimate to determine your offering price, concessions, or whether you'll.  You can think of it as a service that is helping you, and that is worth some money.

From the contractors perspective, it also depends on other things.  If they have plenty of work then they will charge more, including service charges.  If the amount of possible work is small (to them, not to you), it may not be worth bidding without a service charge.

Originally posted by @Gregory Zanolini:

As a contractor for the past 26 years I have never charged (until recently) any fees for project quotes. I was getting pretty tiered of writing proposals for tire kicker investors or any RE purchaser for that matter. If a property requires 25K worth of repairs or renovations, it's pretty common for me to spend 4 hours or more meeting with and estimating the project. All for free.

My phone used to ring off the hook with agents looking for free estimates. Our company policy now is to only supply free estimates to the current property owner. If you do not own the property there will be charges applied that will be credited back if we end up with the contract.

Your policy seems fair to me. However thuis guy's intial evalaution fee would not be credited back after he got the contract, it was just an expense upfront for his time and effort that would be on top of the cost for repairs.

@Richard C. @Larry T. you guys are propbably right about how they view buyers I never thought of it that way. However, despite how they may feel I don't want to pay any fees upfront in order to get a bid, so I am going to keep my options open. It's important to see things from both sides though.

This is one of the reasons I don't actually get "inspections" any more... the inspector tells you everything in the world that is/might be/could be wrong with the property but gives you NO idea what it will cost to fix.

I send in a handyman to check the plumbing, electrical, roof and general interior and then an HVAC person to check the heating/cooling. I pay them a service call charge and they tell me what the issues will cost to fix.

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