Working with contractors

10 Replies

Unlike many investors, I've had wonderful luck with contractors and have a list of reliable, reasonably priced contractors. When looking to price out jobs, does it make sense to continue getting three bids on a job just to keep the contractors that I like working with "honest?" I don't want them to think that they are my one and only and inch up the price of services on me. Thoughts?

if you are happy with your contractors, it means you are paying too much.

Sandra I would be blunt with your contractors.

 "I'm going to be rehabbing X houses this year. I would like to keep you busy and work with you long term. I would prefer to keep you as my go to as I know the quality of your work. However I will get other bids done at times to make sure I'm not over paying." 

I would keep some others on your list because one never knows. Life happens. Car accidents, deaths, sickness. A number of things that are not the "fault" of the hired contractor but, you still have a business to run.

I find with contractors as well as many other professions. People get comfortable with each other and therefore may not always keep doing the best job. Maybe not intentionally again you still have a business to run.

How much work are you having done? A one-off low-cost job here and there, I would go with who does good work and can be trusted without being watched like a hawk. If you are talking 6 figure projects all year, I would get bids not to keep them honest, but just because it makes good business sense. Sometimes there are reasons that one contractor can do a job much cheaper than another, and give you the same quality of work, and it also lets the contractor that you have a relationship with off the hook - meaning that sometimes they will feel obligated to take on a job for you, even though they are not the best option, because of the relationship. A lot of people, contractors included, don't know how to say "no", and will get into projects way over their head, experience level or profit level.  

@Sandra Holt

I like to reward the ones doing a lot of work for me by giving them more work. That being said, if I it is a major cost ($3000 or more) or I think a bid comes in high, I might get a second bid just to make sure I'm not getting ripped off.

Congrats on finding some good contractors. There are plenty of them out there. They are just mixed in with some lazy, dishonest ones.


@Sandra Holt

How do you know they're reasonably priced? Were you consistently getting multiple bids and your go-to crew was always coming in lowest? If you just "think" they're reasonably priced, you should get some competiting bids. At the very least, as @Laurie Johnson said, sometimes things come up. Always good to give your 2nd-in-line some work here or there to make sure they don't think you're in a jam when it comes time to use your 2nd-in-line. Otherwise, in my opinion it's good to use one crew. They know what you like and can execute with less supervision.

You're on the right track - stick with the ones that work well with you.  Just get competing quotes from time to time to make sure their pricing remains competitive.  And let them know that you are shopping prices from time to time.  If they like working with you they'll keep their prices in line.

And occasionally it's good to award the job to one of the competitors.  It keeps your regulars on their toes, and it helps you avoid getting the reputation of a shopper that doesn't follow through; subs/contractors talk to each other a lot!

The prices have nothing to do with "honesty"  there are plenty of honest expensive contractors . And there are also honest cheap contractors  .    The problem is finding a good contractor whose prices fall somewhere in between expensive and cheap .

A few people asked why I thought the prices of my contractors were good and yes, I did get multiple quotes prior to hiring them for the first project I had them do.  Sometimes I got as many as 6 quotes because I had the time and wanted to get a better sampling of the quote spread.  I also didn't always go with the cheapest quote if the contractor looked sketchy or was otherwise unprofessional.  

As a side note, I had a contractor who was very decently priced with a lot of experience look at replacing an HVAC unit but he kept calling me sweetie and honey and told me that if I got a better quote I just had to call him and "rant and rave like all women do" to get a better quote from him.  Of course, he didn't get the job even though he was the cheapest.  

Thanks to all who answered.  I especially liked @Matt Clark 's idea of getting quotes from time to time and awarding the job to a competitor every once in a while.  

I would be happy with their prices going up over time since you are getting quality you can count on and consistency. Plus their expenses go up over time just like everyone else's.

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