WHY CAN'T CONTRACTORS JUST DO WHAT THEY SAY THEY WILL DO????

43 Replies

I first must apologize for screaming at all of you in the title but if you have any experience or can relate to the title at all you know why I am frustrated.  This is nothing more than a venting session on my part and an opportunity for you all to share your frustrating experiences as well!  

How can contractors (not all of them are bad, I know, I just need more time to find the good ones!) stay in business running their businesses this way? It is the classic I will be there on Tuesday to begin sheet rocking your project followed by me receiving a text informing me my helpers want to attend a Halloween party so I cannot make it Tuesday but will be there 1st thing Wednesday morning. I text Wednesday afternoon only to find out that they will not be making it yet again. My GOSH!!!!! Then last night after multiple attempts of trying to get a hold of the contractor he finally informs me he can finally start this Sunday as he will finally have the help. WHY NOT JUST TELL ME THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE????? Anyway, this is my first flip so I am a newbie, make no mistake, I know I have made plenty of mistake and errors up and til this point in my flip but hey that is the price of admission into the wonderful world of REI!

So with that said, please share your frustrating stories to take my mind off my current (temporary) bump in the road. Thanks for allowing me to vent. And as always here is to wishing you all a successful 2017 in your REI ventures!

I've seen a contractor show up 1wk late for a contract that only had a 3 wk performance period. When he finally showed up he didn't even have a team to do the work let alone the supplies (long lead time). Long story short a "simple and short" contract ended up anything but. 

I've also had to fly out to places to prevent project managers from getting banned from projects and to try to bring the project back on schedule after months of delays and change orders. It happens a lot more than you think.... and never at a "good" time.

We have the same issue. We are just about finished up on a BRRRR and we're waiting on the HVAC contractor to get out there and finish. This house didn't have a forced air heating and cooling system, so we're putting one in. The contractor bid it and said October is a slow time so he has plenty of time and that this is about a 2 day job. We are in week 3 and the job still isn't done. Latest excuse? The electrician had 2 funerals to attend this week. Ok, what about the 3 other working days in the week? Yesterday he texted and said he would be out to finish today. Well, it's noon and no sign of him and no response to text messages. I'm amazed that these guys can stay in business.

However, there are rock solid contractors out there too.  We have a plumber that could not be more reliable.  If he says he will be there tomorrow at 10 am, you can set your watch by his arrival.  

I'm willing to pay more for reliable contractors, but sometimes its hard to find them.

That's the hardest thing.... the good reliable contractors are hard to find because they don't really need the work outside of referrals... the crappy unreliable ones are eager to bid and easy to find haha.

@Matt K. , "the crappy unreliable ones are eager to bid and easy to find haha." God isn't that the truth, LOL.  It is truly amazing to me that people will actually tell you something with a str8 face and know the whole time that what just came out of their mouth you are more likely to win the POWER BALL lottery then see what they said come to light!  Thanks for stopping in to share your thoughts.  Here's to wishing you well your future ventures.  Thanks again Matt.

@Wade Sikkink , you are spot on about the reliable ones.  I just haven't been able to find a whole lot of them yet (not from lack of trying).  In your situation, have you finally cut your loses and tried to find someone else?  I literally just received a call from another contractor about coming to bid for the job that my (kind of) current guy hasn't completed.  So if the price is right and I he can make up for lost time I will cut my lost time and hire this guy.  I to have a ROCK solid electrician such as the plumber you mentioned and the ironic thing is the Sheet rock guy that has given me so much trouble as of late was recommended by my electrician!? How does that work? LOL.  Thanks for stopping in to share your thoughts Wade I certainly wish you the best in finding a solid guy that will get your HVAC system completed!   

We have worked out something with our contractor that has been good and bad. We screwed up on our end thinking that we are rolling and we can front some money to him.......VERY BAD IDEA! He does good work, great prices and is knowledgeable, but cannot plan things well at all. We have worked out with him that we measure and order all large ordered materials first thing so it’s all there ready to go and then he gets paid as the work gets done. Faster you work the faster you get paid and we give bonus deadlines to him now where he gets a bonus if project is done before deadline. And always make last payment after all work is done. If he screws up you have all materials ready to go for the next guy in line to pick up where he left off. There is no real solution and each contractor is different but this way works best with our guy since he is so unorganized and bad with money we give him to get parts and labor figured out with his workers. AND ONLY 1-2 HOUSES AT A TIME HE GETS.

@Mike Flora , Sounds as it you have learned much the same way I have, the hard way! LOL.  However, as tough as the hard way is a times it can lend itself to making marked improvements to how we do things in the future.  Sounds as if with your particular contractor/situation you kept what appears to be a guy that knows his stuff but is horrible at the logistically/planning phases of his business.  I still am in the trying to find the right guy stage of the game, I do realize with time it will come (I HOPE, LOL).  Thanks for stopping in to share your store, it would appear that it is lightening my situation a bit.  Here is to wishing you nothing but future success.  Thanks again Mike!

It can be very difficult to find good contractors. A huge part of that is that, for the last 30 years or so, we've told any high school kid with half a brain that they should go get a 4-year college degree. So they do, whether they have any clue what they want to do or not. So when I need a new admin for the advertising business I own, I place an ad for a $10/hour entry level position and I get 100 resumes from kids who just graduated with a degree in speech communications, or marketing & PR, or some other BS degree (says the guy with a philosophy degree), and they're $100K in debt and no idea how they'll ever get out of it. 

Meanwhile, my remodeling business gets either Mexican immigrants (because the building trades are still honored there) or the American kids that high schools thought were too dumb to go to college. I have 25 really excellent full-time field employees now, but I've hired over 300 people to get there in the 8 years since I started the company.

But the other side of things is, investors tend to want things cheap. "Good, fast, cheap - pick 2" is pretty true. Investors will tend to pick the cheap contractor over the good contractor, because with so many wannabe investors chasing deals, the margins get slimmer and slimmer. If you have a really tight deal, you honestly can't afford a top-notch contractor, so you may go with the Craiglist guy. Sometimes, you even get lucky and he turns out to know what he's doing. Other times, not so much.

From a reputable contractor perspective, I stopped taking investor work a couple of years ago. Investors are always looking for the lowest price, and unfortunately, a lot of new investors really don't have a realistic idea of what things cost or what's possible. I have 8 crews booked out for a month on homeowner jobs, which pay better and are less hassle, and two more crews dedicated just to my own investment properties. Investor work just doesn't make sense.

So what's an investor to do? Either you have to look harder to find real deals - where you can afford what it costs to do it right - or you need to find that needle in the haystack of good contractors who aren't already overbooked with work. That might be someone who's just gone out on his own and is building his book of business. If you develop a mutually beneficial relationship with someone like that, it may be good for both of you for years.

I see a lot of suggestions on here about buying materials yourself, not paying a deposit, things like that. Those are generally bad suggestions and will get you only bad contractors. No good contractor wants clients supplying their own materials - clients don't do this every day, and there's a huge change that they will have the wrong items, or not have everything you need. That slows down jobs and makes them unprofitable. And no good contractor will front a client the money (on a big job, not handyman stuff) for materials and pay their guys' weekly paychecks out of their own pocket until the client - hopefully - pays. That's what deposits are for. The contractors who'll work without one are largely going to be the more desperate ones.

I strongly suggest when trying out a new contractor, that you limit the scope. Don't hire them for a full-house gut & remodel. Give them a bathroom to do, or flooring, or paint, or something small. If they totally screw it up, you may lose a little money, but you won't be one of the horror stories on here where a contractor has an entire house torn apart and isn't getting anything done. You can cut your losses when it's just on a small part of the scope. It does slow a job down, but it protects you financially. Once you've developed a good working relationship, you can increase the amount of work you give someone. 

Sorry this got long, but I hope these thoughts are useful to someone. Good luck out there!

To put this as professionally as I can.... some trades are "more professional" as others. This is why you can have a rock solid electrician recommending flaky sheet rock guys.  There are probably much worse sheet rock guys that he didn't recommend haha.

My last househack I gained many grey hairs. At the moment I was househacking/BRRR a two family and purchased the new MF property ready to get started all over again. I had the necessary contractors walk the house with me prior to closing and had everything lined up ready to go with contracts and timelines at the time of closing. I had a lease signed on the unit I was living in in property #1. I had very detailed directions for the contractor that I HAD to move into the first floor unit by May 1 after closing on the 14th of April. This was a bit of an inconvenience for him as I was going to have the bathrooms done on both the first and second floor. I didn't care which he did first I just needed to know that I would have one functioning bathroom in the building upon occupancy. Day one of the job he outsourced demo and boom no more kitchens or bathrooms. Reach out to him and tell him I don't really care about not having a kitchen for a bit but will for sure need him to complete a bathroom prior to 5.1. Welp he informs me that he had to personally pay the demo guys and was short on being able to pay his guys now and would need more money in order to get going..."how much?"-"2 grand" promises the bathroom will be completed in time and the rest of the project will be completed upon our suggested timelines. I go ahead and roll the dice and give him the money. Doesn't show up for the next few days...call to complain, blah blah blah I'll be there next week. Long story a little bit shorter, to this day I've never seen the man again. At the ripe age of 27 with roughly 1.3 million in housing attached to my name I'm moving back in with mom haha. I look at it as a blessing now, I was able to find a good contractor to finish the job (my timeline was delayed about three months) without the stress of having to be in on such a tight schedule I did a lot more of the work I was hoping to defer. Silver lining - I paid a few grand to find a great contractor, a rock solid plumber and an awesome painter/plasterer. One day once the business has scaled a bit more I think I'll consider it money well spent.

I think the same thing so many times

I think over time guys learn their trade and go out on their own so they can set their own schedule. I know for a fact there are a lot of guys sitting in a tree until 10 am and back in there by 2 pm. (deer hunting) Right now...

Most of these guys make over 6 figures.....The key is to build a relationship.. They will fit you in... Don't like it?? Should of became a contractor.

Full disclosure... I am writing this from a tree stand myself..

@Matt K. what do you have against rockers?? JK. It's mostly true. I know because I am one. lol.

I've found that if you want to be successful with a small business about 80% is doing what you say you're going to do, when you say you're going to do it, for the amount you said you'd do it for.  The other 20% is probably advertising and appearance.

Dealing with this issue with a plumber.  He was great when I needed a plumber to install a new valve or even snake the sewer pipe for showing up quickly.  However found out I had 12 feet of cast iron sewer line that needs to be replaced nothing but excuses.  Says he can do it Monday (4 days after he sent a camera snake down it) great how ever it has now been 20 plus days and he might show up early next week.

Not to mention the fact he took a power snake down the sewer line twice and still manage to miss the root clump 12 feet from the entrance that blocked half the pipe.  Only dislodged it after he saw it with a camera.

Just had a contractor inspect a duplex I have under contract about a week ago. I needed his Bid ASAP since I am using a 203k loan for the rehab and the bank said it needed his bid before they could proceed with the appraisal. Well he now is missing in action despite numerous calls, emails, texts. Not quite sure why he even showed up to inspect if he was going to disappear on me. He even emailed me 2 days ago saying he’d get me the bid that night lol. Today had to get another contractor to bid the property and will now need to get an extension for closing.

After my share of CON-tractor stories, I only hire licensed/insured professionals in good standing with the state of Florida and who have at least 2-3 good referrals I can verify.

My favorite CON-tractor saying is “ if you think a professional is expensive, try using an amateur “

Originally posted by @Tony Wooldridge :

I first must apologize for screaming at all of you in the title but if you have any experience or can relate to the title at all you know why I am frustrated.  This is nothing more than a venting session on my part and an opportunity for you all to share your frustrating experiences as well!  

How can contractors (not all of them are bad, I know, I just need more time to find the good ones!) stay in business running their businesses this way? It is the classic I will be there on Tuesday to begin sheet rocking your project followed by me receiving a text informing me my helpers want to attend a Halloween party so I cannot make it Tuesday but will be there 1st thing Wednesday morning. I text Wednesday afternoon only to find out that they will not be making it yet again. My GOSH!!!!! Then last night after multiple attempts of trying to get a hold of the contractor he finally informs me he can finally start this Sunday as he will finally have the help. WHY NOT JUST TELL ME THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE????? Anyway, this is my first flip so I am a newbie, make no mistake, I know I have made plenty of mistake and errors up and til this point in my flip but hey that is the price of admission into the wonderful world of REI!

So with that said, please share your frustrating stories to take my mind off my current (temporary) bump in the road. Thanks for allowing me to vent. And as always here is to wishing you all a successful 2017 in your REI ventures!

WHAT???

You mean they actually let you know they were not going to show up for an appointment?

That is better than a lot around here. And we are taking about licensed contractors in business for 20 years or more and highly recommended 

There is so much work here they just don’t bother showing up or calling and do other jobs. 

In my other line of work we have a saying:

Quality
Price
Service

Pick two of the three.

Three parts to being a contractor. Knowing your trade, running a project, running a business. Most know their trade well, but it’s the other two points that they fall down on. Most are short on training, and certainly experience, for the last two components. Probably the biggest problem now is that post crisis, they are in demand and there is a shortage of skill out there at all levels. The really good guys can name their price, and it is more lucrative to do anything other than work for investors now. Supply and demand has investors by the short hairs now. This is true for availability of deals, as well as availability of good contractors.

I believe You must understand a contractor has an understanding with his everyday clients. You as a once in a while flipper he will try to do his best to accomondate you but you are not his bread and butter. Myself as a Flipper and a General Contractor of Custom Homes I run into this all the time. My subs may pull off a job for a day to do a smaller job. It is all in timing and scheduling that you must be a pro at.

This year has been particularly tough with contractors, even ones that I've used multiple times in the past. And it's gotten a lot worse since Harvey. I still have several projects that I'm having trouble getting done because I can't get anyone out.

They make an appointment and then they flake on me. It's very frustrating.

It's quite confusing really. I once called a guy to replace a gas line and he did a great job with a fair price. I take him to a second home I was going to purchase to get an estimate to replace the copper water lines that are underneath a slab foundation. It needed some demo work to complete. Never calls me back despite repeated calls to him. What gives? If you don't want to do it or if the job is too hard for you just spit it out. Sheesh.

Originally posted by Account Closed:

It's quite confusing really. I once called a guy to replace a gas line and he did a great job with a fair price. I take him to a second home I was going to purchase to get an estimate to replace the copper water lines that are underneath a slab foundation. It needed some demo work to complete. Never calls me back despite repeated calls to him. What gives? If you don't want to do it or if the job is too hard for you just spit it out. Sheesh.

 A lot of people are really bad at managing a business.... this is even more true if you reduce your sample size to contractors. Yes, there are good ones... but there are far more bad ones who either suck at managing time, customer service, funds, or all of this and then some. It's quite possible this guy wanted to do your job, got busy, and forgot.

@Michael Hayworth , well said, I am a contractor and Investor, I make it a policy of mine not to do work for other investors ( unless it's my Brother ) just as much as investors think that contractors are bad, contractors think that working with investors is bad. As a Contractor, we do not not like to have to keep negotiating prices, waiting for material that was ordered by the investor or waiting for another contractor that the investor saved $500 on from our bid, Hire a Contractor to do the job, know what you want before hand and do not make changes. As an investor, of course we are always trying to save on the bottom line, but it's time to realize that sometimes that savings come at a price, example: if you saved $500 on a subcontractor, what did it cost you in delays and holding costs when they didn't show? i know my time is worth money. my properties are out of state and rely on local Contractors to do the work, and i treat them the way i would want to be treated as a contractor.

@Tony Wooldridge I can relate, I am going through the same thing right now. Its taking a guy a month to build two stairs in one of my properties. He called me up Friday stating he was going to a Gala in NY and he wouldn't be able to complete the project until Monday then called me Monday to say he was too tired and would be there Tuesday. I didn't hear from him on Tuesday, he texted me Thursday to tell me he was finishing the bathroom for someone else and would be on site Today ( he is on site now, I told him I wouldn't pay him until he completes the project).  I am still looking for good contractors

Redgy

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