What Would Your Dream Contractor Look Like?

6 Replies

My brothers and I have been in construction for over 20 years now and we hold, between us, a Florida General Contractors License and a Florida Excavation and Underground utility contractors license. When the crash happened in 2008 we closed our business, shelved our licenses and went to work for other more established contractors. Now we are in real estate investment and we hear so many horror stories from our colleagues. So we wanted to ask you: what would your dream contractor look like? What would they do or not do? What are your biggest pain points with contractors and what would your suggestion be to eliminate that pain? We want to take our license off the shelf and serve our industry, but we want to hear from you what the best way to do that is.

Thanks in advance for your input!

Investors, just like contractors, come in different categories - let me try and group them. 

You've got a lot of newbies who don't have much money and will paint a fix things themselves with varying results. 

Then you got the super cheap guys, who buy used cabinets and pay a "contractor" 12 or 15 bucks an hour and try to fine him $100 per day if the job is late. Some will be stuck in this mode forever.

Then you have investors who have done a few deals, they start to understand what stuff costs, will pull permits and generally try to do things the right way the first time. While they understand that a quality job takes time and skill and will pay accordingly, they have to watch their budget.

This will be the majority of investors by numbers. 

A very small fraction makes it into what I would call semi-commercial and commercial. Semi they have a sizeable portfolio and are well funded and have long standing relationships with their contractors. With time they may or may not grow into a commercial business, depending on their motivation and goals - at that point you have a permanent office, landlines and full time staff on payroll. They might be a builder, developer or large scale appartment operators. They are easy to work with, because they understand the process and will make sure the job is ready when you are scheduled etc. We have several here in Milwaukee, but you won't see them at meet-ups very often. 

Where you fit best as a contractor depends largly on your own profile, but I believe that you will find that you work best with a certain type of investor. And what the client is expecting from you depends largly on who they are - so you have to align yourself, your organization with their needs.

Generally speaking you will certainly make more money with residential jobs, where you can charge $300/SF for an addition. But that comes with it's own challenges too - now you have to manage anxious homeowners, who have very little understanding of what is actually going on. They expect professional designs and presentations, a lot of consulting, a warranty and you will have to budget for recalls. That can be very exhausing, that's why you have to get paid better.

My two cents ;-)

@Jose Alvarez reasonably priced. Stays on time line and easy to deal with. I understand that I likely won’t get all of that. The one I typically am willing to sacrifice a bit on is the time constraint.

Stuff happens, often beyond someone’s control. I just had a contractor take about 1.5 weeks longer than expected but that’s because his helper for the job sort of bailed on him. I didn’t mind. He’s easy to work with, super helpful and does great work.

Also keep in mind “reasonably priced” doesn’t mean cheapest. Just means they do the job for a fair price. I’ve only been st this a few years but I’m getting a good idea of what something should cost. If you’re quoting me 10X that price, then I know you likely just don’t want the job or you’re too busy.