Did I got ripped off by the General contractor

15 Replies

I recently built an in law unit of 911 sq ft and spent around 312 per sq ft to build this. The soft cost is around 15%. I paid the contractor around 270 per sq ft. Recently I was talking to a Chinese colleague and he said that I paid too much for it because he says he has a Chinese contractor who can do it for 150 sq ft for builder grade construction. The in law unit I built Is builder grade as well.  Nothing special about this construction. Is it really possible to build for that low in the Bay Area?

first, there is much more information required to see if tou were taken advantage of. you can't just take the colleague's word for it. He probably is not aware of the full scope of work involved. But he may be right as well. you should have gotten multiple bids before you started the project. that would have addressed your concerns regarding overpaying.
first, there is much more information required to see if tou were taken advantage of. you can't just take the colleague's word for it. He probably is not aware of the full scope of work involved. But he may be right as well. you should have gotten multiple bids before you started the project. that would have addressed your concerns regarding overpaying.

There is always some one who is cheaper. Always. Don’t let that bug you. Cheap guys tend to run off. If you agreed on a price and they stuck to it and are happy with the work you are doing better than most.

Many contractors offer lower price if certain portion of the bill can be paid in cash (no 1099).  Likely the contractor your colleague used requires cash payment.  Just yesterday, a contractor who is working on my properties in Kansas City offered 20% discount on quoted price if cash is used.

The contractor cant "rip you off" if you agreed to the price and he completed the work in the contract .   It doesnt matter if that price was 5 times as much as the next contractor . 

Each contractor sets their own price , and the customer either agrees and hires them of finds somebody else . 

I like what @Josh C. Said - there’s always someone who’s cheaper.

But as we all know, cheaper is rarely better! If he really sounds good, bring him in for an estimate for your next project.

You did not get ripped off.

If you did your research in advance of hiring your contractor then you know the answer.  If you did not do your research then you repeatedly say to yourself "I am happy with what I got".

No regrets.

Like others have said, if you agreed to the price, then you didn't ripped off. Now if he promised you one thing for that price and you got another or less quality, the you would have gotten ripped off. But keep in mind also that it is up to you to do your due diligence. If you chose not to get multiple bids, then really you have no one you can blame but yourself.

@Binod G. Not sure about that. It's not always about price but how well a job they do. Hard to tell without seeing their work. If you need more help finding and hiring contractors, I wrote a whole book on the subject. Good luck! 

Customers want their contractors to be 

  1. Cheap
  2. Good
  3. Fast

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. The best contractor will only give you 2 of those 3. Which 2 are the most important to you?

can you pm which contractor you used?

@Binod G. as others have stated there is a ton of detail missing in your original post, but generally speaking the price you paid at $270/sqft is very cheap here in the Bay Area.  I am curious to know if they finished on time and what that timeline was and most importantly if they were licensed and bonded.  The crew your friend is talking about is probably NOT licensed nor bonded, so there is a large risk in working with that team.  It does not mean that they cannot do the work nor that the quality of their work will be any less then the cheap team you worked with; although some contractors might disagree with that.  I assume there were permits for the build, did your guy have you pull them or did he pull them under his company name?  Basically, if you want to do the work above board, I would say that there is NO WAY to do a $150/sqft build in the Bay Area.

@Binod G. $300/sq ft is pretty typical in the Bay Area but a lot depends on the level of finish. If you do a high end finish (i.e. granite counters, tile showers/tub surrounds, hard wood flooring etc) you can pay more that that. Of course, with e lower end finish you can pay less. 

If the quality of workmanship is satisfactory it is already done.  Most reputable contractors who have been guarantee year around work for several years are taken by big builders. 

Even my dad can’t build for $150 anymore! He used to charge that during the market crash... when materials are a lot cheaper and no one was hiring. Anyhow, my dad said build materials has gone up by at least 30%... and labor cost and blah blah blah... Bay Area is expensive! :)

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