Contractors looking at it like there making me rich

80 Replies

@Joshua D. be it right or wrong, wealthy people are demonized in the media and the court of public perception. Any time a person or company is profitable, the immediate assumption is that they got that way taking advantage of the "working man". I can't count the times I worked my butt off at a property until 2 in the morning while my friends were out at the bar drinking or at home watching TV. It is not your fault that most people are average and waste their time and money. It is hard for average people to face the reality that their own actions are to blame for their situation. It is easier to believe that people steal or cheat to gain wealth. Or in your case they probably think your rich father in law gave it to you. I know it is horrible, but that is how people think.

I agree with others, like @Steve Vaughan said, stealth wealth. You can enjoy your wealth, but no reason to flaunt it in front of people who work for you. 

Cars are the number one area that people draw conclusions about wealth. I guarantee if you sell off that fancy truck and show up in a used beater, they will ask you "what went wrong". You can tell your contractor, "it is getting more competitive with the economy heating up and I needed some cash to make sure I pay my people on time." 

Look at it from the opposite perspective. You are getting two bids on a project. The first guy shows up in a Mercedes Benz work van that probably cost $70K. The next guy shows up in a used Ford van with rust that looks like it is worth $7K. Does one seem more fiscally conservative than the other? Who would you assume has less overhead and profit in their business? 

So many people will argue about how "it shouldn't be that way", but I will tell you perception is the only reality. If their perception is a problem, you need to change it. But first determine if it is a problem. Are they trying to charge you more money or taking advantage in some way? If the perception is only hurting your pride, then you need to think about why that is. Maybe you need to be more generous. Just figure out what problem you are trying to solve here.

@Joshua D.     People certainly have different ways of handling themselves - In the contractor world, it's easy to develop envy of investor clients. *However* if we push it all aside, I've had better success taking folks like yourself to lunch or dinner, resulting in consistent and higher paying projects and ''insider'' knowledge of investing myself. My clients definitely have varied in openness, some are very boastful and others very private/frugal but I treat them all the same.  *For your sake, don't worry about what others think, ever. If the contractor is hassling you based on money but they do good work, start rebuilding your relationships, bring them food, gift cards etc. If you know you can spare a some Benjamin's, grab a caterer and stuff them with BBQ for a couple hours. Also buy a POS truck/car so the flashy stuff doesn't set them off, resulting in slower work, resent you etc. ***An old real estate investor friend of mine (now deceased) purposely drove a 97' Ford Ranger to pickup rent, to meet contractors, etc which helped disguise his true net worth/lifestyle (over 12million). Outside of his general real estate world, he had all the toys, house and lifestyle one could want but only opened that up to friends and family - simply food for thought my friend.

-Mark Garcia 

Along the lines of Stealth Wealth...

We indicate to both tenants and contractors that the LLC is the owners of the units (our LLC). We are the Property Managers. We do not explicitly lie as we do not outright state that we are not the owners. We let them assume, because we refer to ourselves as the Property Managers, that we are not the owners.

Any requests must be run past the owners.  The owners are the cheap S**s.  We (the Property Managers) are on the tenants' and contractors' side.  We are working stiffs.

Rents are increased by the owners.  Sorry but the owners have decided to raise the rent.

The owners are the bad guys.  We are the working stiffs who manage the contractors, gardeners, take the complaints, have to deal with tenants and the contractors, etc.  

We drive decent vehicles (2009 Prius and 2010 4Runner) but not showy vehicles.  We are considering purchasing a Tesla Model S and a Land Cruiser but would not drive them to the units.

When I go to the properties it is usually in clothing for manual labor (old pants and an old T shirt).  My usual attire is newer jeans and a dress shirt and that is the most dressed up any of them have seen me (usually they see me in pants and T-shirt that is almost ready for the trash).

We are not the rich owners in the view of our tenants and contractors.   We are the hard working and fair Property Managers,

Stealth Wealth.  I like the term (rhymes).  I believe in it when it come to dealing with tenants and contractors.

I just be my authentic self and if people can't accept that then they move on.

Time is short. Opinions are like butts everybody has one. 

I choose to spend my life happy and content. The second your self worth hinges on what everyone's random thoughts or ideas of you are is the second you give your power away.

Having said that sometimes it is not the words chosen when you speak but the delivery of them. Watch a video of yourself sometimes. What you perceive when you talk and speak might not match up to the image of what people are seeing.

To comment off @Dan Heuschele I personally also hope to do the LLC thing eventually. Then no one knows I own it. Plus I’m investing long distance anyways (and don’t see that stopping anytime soon) so know one will know.

I also would never drive a showy car. It’s not me. I was raised in a family that doesn’t do showy signs of money and I too have no desire to do that.

@Dan Heuschele

"We Hide With Pride"

"We Own on the Down Low"

"Lying To Your Tenants' Faces Is Aces"

"Need-To-Know Average Joe"

I'm here all week.

Without knowing you personally, it’s almost impossible to draw a conclusion as to why people/contractors feel that way towards you. Maybe you are coming off as arrogant or thinking you’re better than them and you just don’t realize it. On the other hand, they could just be jealous people, for whatever reason. Marrying into a rich family can also be a reason they think you didn’t work for what you have. One of my best friends when I was in high school married into a rich family and he went from driving $10k used trucks to brand new BMWs and $70k brand new trucks and having boats and lake houses. While he does work for his wife’s family business, he didn’t “start at the bottom.” I haven’t talked to him in a long time because every time I would, he was always talking about how much money he had and blah blah blah. It got old. I wasn’t jealous by any means, just didn’t care to hear about it.

I’m not rich by any means (yet), but I own a few houses. Very few people, even close friends, know I own anything other than my
primary home. I don’t and never did care what people thought of me.

Just stay humble and everything should be good!

Read some very wise replies on here... there's a lot for you to mull over on this... 

here's my two cents:

1) If you don't like the impression others have of you, you need to change your behaviours.

2) Why are you so concerned what others think of you anyways? Do you have a motive or do you just want everyone to like you? If it's the former, you need to look at #1 again... if it's the latter... well sorry to break the news to you but you can't please all the people all the time mate!

Just tell them you work FOR a group of investors. Then you are working a job just like them.  It makes it easier when they ask for money as you can always say that the INVESTORS require lien waivers, EIN #s and approval before THEY will release funds. 

What an entertaining thread!! Made my day! Thanks for starting this Joshua, and maybe my grandmas' words will help you as they have me. She said "son it is good to be a little humble; but you only have a problem so long as you give a crap".

I’ve seen this on another comment but I also like the idea of just saying you’re the manager and not the owner.  They likely won’t know the difference 

I have not run into this problem with tenants or contractors yet, but I have run into with friends and co-workers. I try to educate them and let them know that they can do it themselves with some savings and some willpower.

Thank you for making this thread though. I did learn some things from the replies.

I am not sure why they think that way, what they see is, how much you bought it, how much their work is, and how much you sold it for. Ask them what they think it costs or how much money they think you’re making. Then, start breaking it down, agent fees, escrow fees, bird dog fees, closing costs, holding costs, etc etc). Pretty simple explanation, since they make money by the day or hour, then tell them that those people who are doing paperwork and services have families to feed as well, and you have one too.

First of all contractors CAN help you. :) and they get less in the long run. I have had some contractors help me get closer to my goals. 

Now here is a thought that I didn’t see mentioned.

Do you joke around and tease your workers in anyway? If you do even a little they will pick back bossman or not. Do you talk school yard trash around your workers?   I don’t tease or kid around with my workers for this and other reasons. 

Go put in a days worth of work along side the workers. Be there first, leave last, work the hardest, and do the toughest jobs right in front of them. Position yourself as a follower of their leadership in "their world".  Then bring out a cold pack of beer at the end of the work day. You'll win their affection and respect for quite a while. Even when new workers come and "gripe about the rich kid owner", you will have built a loyal following that stands up for you.

Everyone who works for me knows that I would outwork them in a heartbeat with a smile on my face, a good attitude, and would never ask someone to do something I wouldn't personally do. I only get my hands dirty once in a blue moon, but when I do, I make it count and make it visible.

Also, I'd recommend the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Read that a couple times, take action on the principals, and you'll be well loved. 

How about helping them achieve what you have?

this is a f&@king weird thread....

@Jim K. that envy joke had me cracking up! Kudos on inclusion of the Irish, French and Greek accents

@Jason Powell

Oh, the hardest and the toughest jobs?

Maybe bullnose the granite for the bathroom on-site?

You ever build a mud pan for a shower?

Used a framing plumb bob?

Ever clamped a raised panel custom cabinet door? Would you know what Space Balls were for if I handed you a pack?

Ever put in a drywall repair clip?

Is it better to use fiberglass or rockwool insulation to insulate weight cavities before putting in replacement windows?

What kind of JC should I stick with for heavy composite tape and no=fastener reinforced corner bead?

Ever sawn out a section of cast-iron 3-inch stack and put in a ABS or PVC replacement with Fermco couplings? Is it ABS or PVC that you have to prime before you solvent-weld it?

You sweated any copper piping? Should I pick up L or M 1/2 in. pipe to run interior lines at the big orange retail giant? And what about water hammer and air chambers? Do I need a third or a fourth of a bubble slope on my runs of horizontal DWW piping? What does that translate to in inches of slope per foot?

Come on, Jason (hey, there's your name, the sweetest sound in the world to you, see my Dale Carnegie reading showing?). Your profile indicates no actual building or contracting experience. And you're most definitely not old enough to call yourself a master builder. The first property I renovated singlehandedly was in 2006, at 32. And I am most definitely NOT a master builder. Just an old fart home improvement contractor with a currently lapsed registration, a middle-aged dude running rentals in Steel City and the immediate environs.

I could NOT outwork everyone on a job site, most especially my plumber/HVAC guy and electrician. They both know this and they know I know and respect this. It helps that they also both own rental properties.

Any investor who doesn't spend his days up to his elbows in the work and decided to come in on the jobsite one day would be the New Guy, also known less politely on building sites worldwide by a number of less than politically-correct terms. Someone will have to hold her or his hand all day long, probably more than one guy, slowing down the whole crew. At best, such an investor would gain some respect for showing that she or he didn't think they were too good to work on a jobsite for ONE DAY. But in the end, Jason, have you devote a significant part of your life, thousands of man-hours, to building and renovating? Have you sacrifice your body to it over the years? Got a Flexbar set to work out chronic carpenter's elbow in both arms?

No matter how many times you try to show a sincere interest, no matter how many names you remember, no matter how often you work to be sympathetic, it'll still be obvious to your guys that you don't have the skill set to work daily on a decent general residential renovation crew. You won't belong to the pipe-hitting tribe, and it is a tribe, believe you me. There's a lack there that all the enthusiasm and goodwill will not cover. Nor will a six-pack lessen the degrees of separation between you and the people producing the visible work product on the jobsite.

Not going nuclear on you, Jason. This is a major interest of mine. I came late to building and I'm writing up a series of articles about the American skills gap in the trades and the ways I see it affecting much of residential real estate investment -- flipping, turning rental properties, self-managing SFRs and small multifamilies in C/D borderline areas. Hopefully, I'll put them on a blog here on BiggerPockets.

If you disagree with me, please feel free to tell me why. It would be very nice to be proven wrong here.

Fire the contractor making the comments and also make sure you aren't driving up to the job site in a Ferrari.

I wouldn't worry about what other people think. No matter what you do someone will not be pleased. You can hand someone 100K in cash and they will still have a complaint or comment. Enjoy your life and focus on intrinsic happiness! Outsiders don't matter. I hope to one day have your problem! ;-)

Originally posted by @Jim K. :

@Jason Powell

Oh, the hardest and the toughest jobs?

Maybe bullnose the granite for the bathroom on-site?

You ever build a mud pan for a shower?

Used a framing plumb bob?

Ever clamped a raised panel custom cabinet door? Would you know what Space Balls were for if I handed you a pack?

Ever put in a drywall repair clip?

Is it better to use fiberglass or rockwool insulation to insulate weight cavities before putting in replacement windows?

What kind of JC should I stick with for heavy composite tape and no=fastener reinforced corner bead?

Ever sawn out a section of cast-iron 3-inch stack and put in a ABS or PVC replacement with Fermco couplings? Is it ABS or PVC that you have to prime before you solvent-weld it?

You sweated any copper piping? Should I pick up L or M 1/2 in. pipe to run interior lines at the big orange retail giant? And what about water hammer and air chambers? Do I need a third or a fourth of a bubble slope on my runs of horizontal DWW piping? What does that translate to in inches of slope per foot?

Come on, Jason (hey, there's your name, the sweetest sound in the world to you, see my Dale Carnegie reading showing?). Your profile indicates no actual building or contracting experience. And you're most definitely not old enough to call yourself a master builder. The first property I renovated singlehandedly was in 2006, at 32. And I am most definitely NOT a master builder. Just an old fart home improvement contractor with a currently lapsed registration, a middle-aged dude running rentals in Steel City and the immediate environs.

I could NOT outwork everyone on a job site, most especially my plumber/HVAC guy and electrician. They both know this and they know I know and respect this. It helps that they also both own rental properties.

Any investor who doesn't spend his days up to his elbows in the work and decided to come in on the jobsite one day would be the New Guy, also known less politely on building sites worldwide by a number of less than politically-correct terms. Someone will have to hold her or his hand all day long, probably more than one guy, slowing down the whole crew. At best, such an investor would gain some respect for showing that she or he didn't think they were too good to work on a jobsite for ONE DAY. But in the end, Jason, have you devote a significant part of your life, thousands of man-hours, to building and renovating? Have you sacrifice your body to it over the years? Got a Flexbar set to work out chronic carpenter's elbow in both arms?

No matter how many times you try to show a sincere interest, no matter how many names you remember, no matter how often you work to be sympathetic, it'll still be obvious to your guys that you don't have the skill set to work daily on a decent general residential renovation crew. You won't belong to the pipe-hitting tribe, and it is a tribe, believe you me. There's a lack there that all the enthusiasm and goodwill will not cover. Nor will a six-pack lessen the degrees of separation between you and the people producing the visible work product on the jobsite.

Not going nuclear on you, Jason. This is a major interest of mine. I came late to building and I'm writing up a series of articles about the American skills gap in the trades and the ways I see it affecting much of residential real estate investment -- flipping, turning rental properties, self-managing SFRs and small multifamilies in C/D borderline areas. Hopefully, I'll put them on a blog here on BiggerPockets.

If you disagree with me, please feel free to tell me why. It would be very nice to be proven wrong here.

Thank you so much for this post. I chuckled when he made that claim. Sounds like a pretty boy who thinks he is working hard but he doesn't know what hard work is.

He even said he rarely shows up to do this stuff himself. No way he is outworking the people who do this on a daily basis. 

You don't have to prove anything. I can shake someones hand and tell whether or not they work hard or sit at a desk all day.

@Jim K.

Wow Jim, that felt pretty rude, and you sure made a lot of assumptions about me when you know nothing about me. Normally I wouldn't respond, but since you publicly shamed me in front of all my friends .....

First of all, I never called myself a master builder, nor would I be so ignorant to do so. I would also never claim to truly know what trades people go through after performing physical labor for decades. Wow, what a tough and honorable career.

However, I have been the "grunt guy" on about 10 different house flips through high school. I do have two degrees in Construction Engineering. I have worked for a general contractor during my college years. Again, I was the grunt who got loaned out to any sub like a slave to do the work non of them wanted to do when my superintendent "owed them a favor". I have worked with multiple unions, pile bucks, carpenters, pipe fitters, plumbers, you name it. I've been involved on projects installing dams, street cars, BNSF train bridges, mechanical systems at Intel, dental labs, 30 story buildings, you name it. I'm sure I could impress even you with my insider lingo. EVERY time I started out with severe judgement like you just displayed, from the trades people and EVERY time gained respect of the trades in a matter of weeks. How do I do this without putting in 40 years of manual labor and destroying every joint in my body you may wonder?

While I won't respond to your 101 specific questions, here's a good example for you. Just a year ago I had a tenant die and liquefy all over the floor. A restoration company took out all the remaining guts, carpet, etc until it was safe to work with some basic PPE. They left the body soaked plywood. I also "inherited" all the tenants junk (which all stunk like you wouldn't believe). After 10 guys quit the job site and were puking all over my yard, guess who the one person is who cut the plywood out, heaved it into the 30 yard dumpster ALONE, and yarded out 4.7 TONS of junk, almost all ALONE. 

Each and every one of my guys knows I wouldn't never ask them to do anything I wouldn't personally come out and do myself. They know the reason I have what I have is because I'm willing to do what 99% of the population isn't willing to do, even if they knew with certainty it would lead them to become a millionaire. I could list of 20 examples but won't. I've had the back spasms, had the fiberglass insulation in every crack of my body, coughed up the black crap in my lungs, had the welding burns, etc, etc etc. It's not about me though. And again, with all sincerity, I'm not a master builder, and I'm certainly not up to par with the level of skill most of the people I hire possess.

There is a huge gap between the difficulties of blue collar and white collar workers. Even though I've had many of their experiences, of course I couldn't extrapolate that over decades. Nor could they understand what it's like to have a dead beat tenant stick their finger in their nose and tell you they are going to sue you for everything you've ever worked for and be the future landlord of your building. 

This post is getting long, and I could write 10x the amount here. I still stand behind my advice to the poster though. Somehow us ignorant, soft-handed, privileged, white collar folk need to overcome the common immediate judgement that you've displayed on your response.

@Derrick E.

"......tell whether or not they work hard or sit at a desk all day."

Please explain your reasoning on why hard work is only synonymous with manual labor. 

I'm genuinely interested to hear your perspective. My day job often feels very grueling to me, much harder at times than when I worked 50 hrs/week doing manual labor on a job site.

No one ever sees where you come from, they only see what you are now. There's no such thing as an over night success but that is missed by most people. Envy is pretty bad these days, aided by politicians and every other hater out there that wants to take it from you. The only thing I know to tell is what I try to do. Treat everyone the same and then set some standards at the start of each job. I pay an agreed upon wage but that means I don't want to hear any socialist non sense, and if you do hear some fire them.

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