ALWAYS PURCHASE YOUR MATERIALS YOURSELF or else!

57 Replies

Anyone, and I really mean anyone that is doing any form of construction/rehab, a word of warning: Always buy whatever materials (lumber, cabinets, flooring, sheetrock, plumbing, tile, sprinkler system, lighting, etc., etc) you need for a project seperately with your own credit card/checkbook. You own it. Not the contractor. In all due respect to contractors/subs, never ever let a contractor or anyone else purchase materials other than yourself, esp. if you don't know them well. You can go with the contractor, but the actual register purchase should be with your own credit card/checkbook as the rightful owner.

Reason: If you ever have a falling out or dispute with anyone working on your project who purchased project materials, that they could easily claim it as theirs, take off site (steal??) or whatever, and still they bill you for it even if they never finish the project or left the materials on site, good luck trying to get it back in a dispute or if they walk off the job. Let's say you get into a dispute, you fail to pay them or withhold payment or the contractor/sub fails to show up again or whatever, and you have paid them some monies already, well, technically, until you pay for all materials, under most state laws, those materials are not yours.

If you personally purchased the materials seperately from the contractor/sub, that is your property irrespective of any disputes/claims the parties may have. You want to purchase and own the materials yourself, even if you have to go with the contractor/sub to do so, and it may be a pain, but having rightful ownership will at least mitigate any future disputes that may arise.

On the same note in CA, and likely in most states, any contractor can put a Mechanics Lien on your property's title pretty much at will. Simply filling out a form, and for $15, can go into the County Recorder's Office and record a ML against the title of your property without notice to you (you won't know until you do a title search and see the lien). He/she doesn't need lawyer either in CA. Getting it removed is a whole legal process. Though recording one on title without just cause is fraud, but a lot of good that does you while fixing/flipping your house up quickly.

ALWAYS get a clear Legal ML Waiver and release stating essentially the contractor has been paid and full, and releases all future rights and claims. Furthermore, it is imperative that his/her subs sign a seperate release because if the sub doesn't get paid by the General Contractor, rightly or wrongly, they too can put a lien on your property, I am not sure what other states do, but in CA, there is no policing of ML. If a contractor gets p---sed off randomly, a simple trip to the Recorders/Clerks office for $15 will make him/her feel a lot better.

Never has happened to me but I know others who had nightmares. Watch your title and get waiver releases at the end of each project from anyone who set foot on your property that ever picked up a tool!

I always buy materials, simply because I refuse to give a big down payment on work, and the contractors don't like to buy a bunch of materials out of their own pocket. They deal with too many deadbeats who refuse to pay after the job is finished.

Not only that, you avoid the inevitable contractor markup on the material costs by purchasing yourself and if some of the materials are not used, you take them back and get a refund/or use on next job.

It is very wise to also get the W-9 signed at the time of the contract signing with your contractor as well. Anything over $500 to a contractor (GC or sub) will need a W-9.


While trying to be nice, and not offend the origial poster, I couldn't disagree more.

The reason most people have problems is simply because they take the wrong approach. You should view your contractor like you would any other memeber of your team. If you hired an attorney, accountant, banker, etc, you would check references and find somebody worth their salt.

Many people assume they are going to somehow get a better deal by finding bottom-of-the-barrel guys to do the work. They wind up with guys tweaked out on drugs, not showing up, stealing stuff, and doing crappy work.

Although we area bigger shop, we can do everything "turn-key" better, faster, and often CHEAPER than if you tried to piecemeal it yourself.

A few pointers:

1) If you don't trust someone, you shouldn't be working with them. Period. Check references, do your due diligence, make sure they are licensed and bonded. If they are bonded, and leave you hanging, you will be compensated for your damages. You can also go after their license.. assuming you hire a licensed contractor.

I've been very fortunate and have never been burned. I just don't work with people I don't trust.

2) Buying your own material doesn't save you money. Licensed contrators get better pricing on virtually everything. If your trying to avoid their "mark-up".. I've got news for you. Your still paying it - just to Home Depot instead.

We don't mark up most of our materials.

3) Insisting on going with your contractor everywhere is a waste of both of your time. If your job is hourly, your paying him instead of a $10-per-hour laborer to go shopping. If it's fixed fee - EVERY contractor will build the PITA factor into their price.

4) As stated above: ALWAYS get lein releases. EVERY TIME YOU WRITE A CHECK.

Your GC's invoice should inclued lein releases, or "partial" lein releases from each sub he is paying. The "partial" is for jobs that aren't complete yet, but they are acknowledging that you paid them so far.

Don't pay in cash, you have no recourse, and if you have a contractor that is okay with tax evasion.. what else is he okay with?

5) Yes, any contractor can put a lein on your property for $15. Actually, its worse. They don't even have to have done work on your property to file a lein. That's right, I could walk downtown and file a lein on your property even though we have never met.

That said, the last place I ever want to waste a few hours is at the County Recorders Office. And it wouldn't hold up once it was challenged.


I guess the whole point is you shouldn't have issues if you work with good people. Good people aren't any more expensive than bad people. But bad people will cost you time, frustration, money, and the color of your hair.


Great post Scott.

One thing that I would like to add is that when you obligate yourself to purchase the materials for you contractor(s) unless they are there to get everything they need, and you are just paying for it... you are setting yourself up for constant delays because YOU didn't get the contractor the right materials... or you forgot the one item that is holding up the entire project for a week.

Ask me how I know this!

"The reason most people have problems is simply because they take the wrong approach. You should view your contractor like you would any other memeber of your team. If you hired an attorney, accountant, banker, etc, you would check references and find somebody worth their salt. "

That's all great in a perfect world, But unfortunately the nature of the beast is that the majority of contractor/subs are typically living hand-mouth--or close to it. Attorneys, accountants, bankers don't typically fall into this catagory and furthermore these people aren't in control of your say, %$200k investment. No offense, but it's not a comprable analogy, You can check all the refs, bonding etc.all you want but you never know if your contractor is one paycheck away or one day away from the street. It's the nature of the business. I can't say that about many attorneys, accountants or banks that I can walk into.

My suggestion of buying materials was not to so much focused to save money as it is for legal ownership and possession. If I got a $250k investment on the line, I am going with my contractor or have my contractor order what he needs but it will be paid by me directly. Not him. I mitigate potential problems this way. I also want to know that I can return any unused materials of worth.

I have had a great people work for me for a long time but on a dime they became unreliable and soon enough they had money problems as I suspected, and went out of business. Unless you are a well healed big contractor, or live in ones back pocket 24/7 a reliable contractor is a as reliable and trusting as the day he shows up and finshes the work. It's the nature of the beast. Not all contractors are like, but the majority are unfortunately. I suspect I'm not alone in this line of thinking and experiences.

I will have to sie with Steven on his post. SInce this is one of the ways I make a living, I know what I am talking about via experience!

In a perfect world, yes, Scott has some points. The problem is, we live and work in the real world, not a perfect one, and I don't care how much DD or background checks you do on a contractor, that does not mean you can "trust" them with yoru money or your business! I don't trust anybody, and it is certainly not persoanl, it is just a business decision/corporate policy.

And please tell me where my contractors can get better costs on building materials than (per your example) Home Depot? Granted, there are window manufactureres who contractors buy direct from, there are some lumber yards where you can get a slightly better price point, but for a single family home that you are rehabbing, your contractors are most usually pruchasing from Lowes and Home Depot! Ask me how I know! (I like that line Peter)

Buying the right items and the right amount comes with expereince and knowledge, saving contractor mark-up is essential in the real world, and not trusting anybody is a good business practice!

Originally posted by nationwidepi:
I will have to sie with Steven on his post. SInce this is one of the ways I make a living, I know what I am talking about via experience!

In a perfect world, yes, Scott has some points. The problem is, we live and work in the real world, not a perfect one, and I don't care how much DD or background checks you do on a contractor, that does not mean you can "trust" them with yoru money or your business! I don't trust anybody, and it is certainly not persoanl, it is just a business decision/corporate policy.

And please tell me where my contractors can get better costs on building materials than (per your example) Home Depot? Granted, there are window manufactureres who contractors buy direct from, there are some lumber yards where you can get a slightly better price point, but for a single family home that you are rehabbing, your contractors are most usually pruchasing from Lowes and Home Depot! Ask me how I know! (I like that line Peter)

Buying the right items and the right amount comes with expereince and knowledge, saving contractor mark-up is essential in the real world, and not trusting anybody is a good business practice!


Thanks Nationwidepi: If I trusted everyone I'd be broke and deserve everything I get. Blanket blind faith has no place in this biz. But in regards to materials, I'm in the business to make money...not give it away. If a contractor is going to mark up materials on an avg of 15% and if I'm buying a couple of hundred thou a year in materials, well, sorry, but $30,000/annl is a big deal to me. May not be to some..

I also want to own that stuff and return any worthwhile leftovers. If I pay for materials it is then legally mine and there at least won't be any disputes about THAT issue. If a contractor buys materials himself, and say, walks off the job or something it's another layer of muck in disputes. He legally owns it and could take it off site at anytime, put a mechanics lien on your property for failure to pay for it, or whatever. Hey, you could have half your cabinets installed and then he walks off the job with the rest of them...you really want to go around shopping again and look for the ones he took...esp. if they are special order) while you try to track him down. Good luck!! No thank you!! Unfortunately this is not a business swarming with Saints and Mother Theresas'.

If you aren't willing to pay for materials directly out of your own pocket (whether you actually go with the contractor or not to shop) you are waiting for a legal problem to happen. Blanket blind trust in this biz is fools gold. All the due dilligence in the world is no gaurentee. Your trusty contractor of 5 years maybe great but you have no clue 365/24/7 about his personal business or month to month financial strength or maybe lawsuits against him going on.

Lastly, $5k, $10k or $20k I save from his mark up is money in MY pocket not his. I'm not in the charity business (I give in my personal life because my biz life is is successful). Maybe that extra allows me to add something else of value to my project.

If it's all too much for then perhaps one shouldn't be in this line of work. You got to watch EVERYTHING like a Hawk with a bit of circumspect. It's YOUR money. It's YOUR profit all at stake. No one elses. I trust and believe no one except my wife and dog! It's served me well: I never lost a dime in 10 years in RE. 24/7 blanket blind faith is a receipe for eventual a problems. It will happen. The odds are certainly there...unfortunately.

Steven

I never said anything about blind trust. Life and businss is all about systems. You need systems for your accountant, for your bookeeper, for your contractor, and for anyone who controls any part of your business.

A lot of contractors get into the business by default of they weren't qualified to do anything else. This gives the whole industry a bad reputation.

However, there are a lot of people who are extremely talented and truly love building.

If you insist on buying your own materials, and micro-managing your contractor you are severely limiting your opportunities for growth.

Treat your contractor like a member of your team. Trust has to be earned, and put systems in place that control and track expenses. But one house you micro-manage equals at least 4 houses your team could manage. Do the math.

I have had contractors save my butt on more than one occasion because I have a good team.

Beyond that, the fact that you wrote the check for the materials doesn't mean your contractor, or one of his guys can't steal them. Possession is 9/10ths of the law and you'll face the same battle either way.

The position I take is the contractor is responsible for the entire job untill it is signed off. If stuff goes missing, it's on him to replace.

In the future I may make a specific post about evaluating and hiring contractors. Like anything, experience goes a long way.


If you insist on buying your own materials, and micro-managing your contractor you are severely limiting your opportunities for growth.

Treat your contractor like a member of your team. Trust has to be earned, and put systems in place that control and track expenses. But one house you micro-manage equals at least 4 houses your team could manage. Do the math.

I have had contractors save my butt on more than one occasion because I have a good team.

MY OPPORTUNITIES ARE NOT LIMITED BECAUSE I'VE NEVER ALLOWED MYSELF TO GET BURNED BY BEING AS YOU SAY 'MICRO-MANAGER' I'M DOING JUST FINE AND FOR 10 YEARS IT'S WORKED FOR ME. I DID THE MATH: I'VE NEVER LOST A DIME BY HOW I DO BUSINESS.

WHAT YOUR EXPERIENCES SOUND LIKE ARE AN ANOMALY TO THE BUSINESS IN GENERAL. GLAD TO KNOW THERE ARE RARITIES LIKE YOURS STILLOUT THERE.


Beyond that, the fact that you wrote the check for the materials doesn't mean your contractor, or one of his guys can't steal them. Possession is 9/10ths of the law and you'll face the same battle either way.

IF HE STEALS THEM THEN HE'S JUST ELEVATED HIS PROBLEMS TO NOW A CRIMINAL OFFENSE, DINGED HIS LICENSE AND HIS BUSINESS WITH A CRIMINAL ACTION AGAINST HIMSELF AND BUSINESS. NOT SURE HE WOULD WANT TO SUBJECT HIMSELF/LIVELIHOOD TO THAT. HENCE BUYING THIS STUFF YOURSELF IS A GREAT PROTECTIVE MEASURE IN CASE THIS HAPPENS,


I see both sides of the argument since I am both a GC and a RE investor. I tend to agree with Scott on the buying the materials part of his argument. I too do this for a living and I get much better prices going through Stock than I do Home Depot. I generally try to avoid Home Depot, Lowe's etc., at all costs, but I digress.

If you have the contractor buy the materials and you insert a clause in the contract making him responsible for them through completion of the job, you'd be surprised how well things can get taken care of. If you want to buy them fine. Do you also compensate for lost time when things are defective, or you short ordered?

Fyi, under CA law, no contractor is allowed to accept more than $1,000 or 1% of the contract up front, whichever is less. Secondly, no contractor is allowed to bill for work that has not been completed. Many people aren't aware or choose to ignore both of those statutes. If they didn't, many fly by night contractors would be out of business immediately since that would mean fronting their own money for materials and labor.

While any sub can lien a house, unless they filed a prelim within a certain period of time from the start, the lien has not been perfected and will be tossed out when challenged. There is also a process for properly filing on the GC's part as well. Simply put, it is very easy to have a lien removed and the law comes down pretty hard on contractors that don't follow it in this regard.

Just my $.02...

- First, someone asked why reason Robyn Thompson recommends never buying your own materials... The reason is that doing so can help the IRS classify the contractor as an employee as opposed to an independent contractor. This could put you on the hook for payroll taxes, workmans comp, and could open you up to lawsuits. I'm not saying I agree with her on this, but that's her rationale.

- I ALWAYS buy my own finishing materials, though I'll generally let the contractors buy the building materials (lumber, siding, sheetrock, roofing materials, etc).

- That said, I would never waste my time going shopping with my contractors. Shopping is an $8/hour job, and my time is more valuable than that.

- I keep a spreadsheet of materials on-hand, and when I need to order stuff, I fax it to the supplier (oftentimes Home Depot or a local builder supply store). They charge my account, gather the materials, and ship them to the job-site. This way, I get the bill, I know what's being ordered, and neither my contractors nor I need to waste time shopping. If the contractor needs something that I forgot, my project manager can pick it up.

As Scott pointed out, scaling your business is all about systems. If you don't have systems in place to allow you to efficiency allocate your time to high-value tasks, you're not going to be very successful in this business.

Originally posted by J Scott:
Just my $.02...

- First, someone asked why reason Robyn Thompson recommends never buying your own materials... The reason is that doing so can help the IRS classify the contractor as an employee as opposed to an independent contractor. This could put you on the hook for payroll taxes, workmans comp, and could open you up to lawsuits. I'm not saying I agree with her on this, but that's her rationale.

THIS WRONG!!!!!! (AND A BIT BIZARRE)! THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CORRELATION TO PURCHING YOUR OWN MATERIALS THROUGH YOUR OWN CHECKBOOK OR CREDIT CARD AND THEN THIS MAKING YOU LIABLE TO A CONTRACTOR AS YOU DESCRIBE WHO IS NOT PART OF YOUR BUSINES, IF I GO OUT AND BUY A BUNCH OF COMPUTER PARTS TO BUILD A SYSTEM, AND Mr. COMPUTER GUY COMES OVER TO BUILD MY SYSTEM FOR ME HOW DOES THAT MAKE HIM AN EMPLOYEE OF MY BUISNESS. HE'S HIS OWN ENTITY. YOU COULD USE THIS SCENARIO FOR ANY BUSINESS.

THAT'S WHY ALL (LEGIT--ANYWAY) BUSINESSES IN AMERICA AND CONTRACTORS TOO HAVE THEIR OWN FED. TX ID NUMBER UNDER THIER OWN CORP/LLC/LLP ETC. AND CARRY THEIR OWN INSURANCES,ETC. SECONDLY YOU HAVE A CONTRACT WITH THE CONTRACTOR THAT SHOWS ALL THIS STUFF TO BEGIN WITH.

SO IF I GO TO HD OR LOWES AND BUY A TRUCK LOAD OF LUMBER OUT OF MY POCKET AND ANY CONTRACTOR WHO COMES OVER TO DO A PROJECT AND I'M ON THE HOOK?? NOT SURE HOW WHERE YOU GOT THIS BUT THIS IS SO NOT TRUE. IN ALL DUE RESPECT SOUNDS LIKE USSR THINKING.

MY BROTHER OWNS A CPA FIRM FOR DEVELOPERS. HE'S PERPLEXED BY THIS NOTION. ??????


- I ALWAYS buy my own finishing materials, though I'll generally let the contractors buy the building materials (lumber, siding, sheetrock, roofing materials, etc).

- That said, I would never waste my time going shopping with my contractors. Shopping is an $8/hour job, and my time is more valuable than that.

I AGREE. NOT SUGGESTING ANYONE GO 'SHOPPING' PER SE. JUST MAKE SURE YOU ARE PAYING FOR THE MATERIALS YOURSELF OUTOF YOUR OWN ACCOUNT/WALLET HOWEVER LOGISTICALY YOU HANDLE THAT (AND ALSO AVOID AT THE SAME TIME A CONTRACTORS 15% TYPICAL MARK UP).




As you grow and develop as a real estate investor, the need for control increases. Not in a bad way, but in a good one.

Buying your own materials helps the investment company to control it's costs and maintain profitability.

Remember, if you're going to assume all the risks, you should enjoy the reward.

And you can't do that when you hand your control over to somebody else.

For those that purchase their materials. How does this work? Could you please explain how this is accomplished? Also, how do you breach the subject with the contractor?

Thanks!

I have a commerical acct at hd and use there bidroom pricing which usually equates to a10% to 15% savings if you spend .2500. I go and submit the quote for all materials and have my gc as an approved purchaser on my acct. I receive a call every time he checks out for my approval. I try to knock out most of hte purchases in the first trip or two and I go with him if Im available. At that point, if he goes back on his own, its usually for small odds and ends. It seems to work very well but again, a level of trust needs to be established.

Originally posted by Steven Marks:
Originally posted by J Scott:

- First, someone asked why reason Robyn Thompson recommends never buying your own materials... The reason is that doing so can help the IRS classify the contractor as an employee as opposed to an independent contractor. This could put you on the hook for payroll taxes, workmans comp, and could open you up to lawsuits. I'm not saying I agree with her on this, but that's her rationale.


THIS WRONG!!!!!! (AND A BIT BIZARRE)! THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CORRELATION TO PURCHING YOUR OWN MATERIALS THROUGH YOUR OWN CHECKBOOK OR CREDIT CARD AND THEN THIS MAKING YOU LIABLE TO A CONTRACTOR AS YOU DESCRIBE WHO IS NOT PART OF YOUR BUSINES,


Steven -

My information was not wrong...and I find it surprising that any worthwhile CPA would tell you it was wrong (in fact, I certainly wouldn't use that CPA myself). If you take a look at the IRS documentation, it's pretty clear on this topic...

Let me explain...

The IRS has many tests to determine if someone working for your business is an employee or an independent contractor. The ultimate decision by the IRS is a completely subjective one...a judgment calls. The IRS will look at all the facts, and then make a determination. In fact, two different IRS auditors might make different determinations!

That's why it's so important that you do everything you possibly can to ensure that if the IRS ever audits you, that they have as much evidence as possible to conclude that someone working for you is an independent contractor, NOT an employee.

Now, the question is, does the IRS look at who bought the materials as part of their subjective determination of whether the person is an employee or independent contractor?

The answer is very clearly yes.

See here:

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=209413,00.html

If you read that through, it should be VERY clear the provision of tools and materials is just one indication of relationship between two parties.

Here is another reference:

http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/appx_d_irs_ic_test.html

Now, it's unlikely that purchasing materials for your contractors would get them classified as employees independent of other factors, but if there are a number of factors that might indicate an employer/employee relationship, the materials issue could sway the IRS's subjective determination.

Hope that explains why Robyn is indeed correct...

Of course, if you have some IRS documentation that indicates otherwise, I'd love to see a reference to it...this is obviously a topic that has a big impact on investors, so having correct information is extremely important...

J,

I see what you are saying but to clarify, how would the IRS ever get involved in this scenario? In other words, if you as the investor are buying your own materials and your contractor (who is licensed, bonded, and insured) installs the items, how would the IRA ever know or get involved ? Would it be only due to some complaint by your contractor?

I do find it hard to believe that the IRS would rule that way if it was the ONLY factor and as such, make sure it is the ONLY factor.

Originally posted by nationwidepi:

I see what you are saying but to clarify, how would the IRS ever get involved in this scenario?


Will -

Good question...

The specific example Robyn uses (supposedly a true story) is of a roofing contractor who fell off a roof and died. The widow sued the investor that hired her husband, arguing that because he was an employee of the investor (and not an independent contractor), the investor is liable for her husband's death.

Despite the fact that the investor used the guy as a contractor, the court ruled that he was an employee, based on IRS criteria of "employee," and the investor lost everything.

Apparently, the purchasing of materials (by the investor) was just one fact that led the court to determine that the contractor was an employee. I imagine there were many others (such as no independent contractor agreement, etc), but the materials issue was documented as one contributing factor.

Another example of where this could be an issue is if one of your contractors decides to try to claim unemployment benefits from you; the unemployment office will make a determination if he was an employee or contractor, and if they determine he was an employee, you'll be paying benefits (plus back FICA taxes and penalties).

This was actually a real issue that Microsoft had a number of years back, because they treated their contractors a bit too much like employees, and despite the contractor contracts, the court ruled that they were actually employees.

If a big company with high-powered lawyers like Microsoft can get burned by this, certainly investors need to be careful...

[[[......For those that purchase their materials. How does this work? ...... Also, how do you breach the subject....]]]]

There are several different ways it works.

The guy who builds my garages and pole buildings gives me a price for the completed building. Then he shops and orders the materials. Everything is arranged and I go in and write a check and the lumber yard delivers.

The cost of materials is deducted from what I owe him. When it is done, extra materials belong to him because I've gotten my building for the contracted price. If I remember correctly (he's been working for me for a long time) it was his proposal for the way to do things.

My tile setter gives me a price for installing and he measures. It's up to me to pick out the tile and buy the correct supplies and get them delivered. Our contract is for labor, not the total finished job, so leftover materials are mine. When they gave the bid the first time I used them, they suggested doing it this way.

My roofer comes out and measures and gives me a complete list of what he wants. I order, pay, and the roofing company comes out and delivers on top of the roof. Leftover material is mine, which I return for a refund. Our agreement was for labor, not for the complete roof.

For carpet, the carpet guy measures. I order and pay, and he picks it up. Carpet guys cut the carpet to fit at the time they pick it up. With this guy the biggest piece of carpet ever left over is about 4 inches wide. Leftovers go to the dump.

With new contractors, I simply tell them that "this is the way I do things". No one has ever objected. They all like it because they are not any money out of pocket for the job.

On big jobs, I pay for each phase as it is completed. For little jobs (say, less than 3 days), I pay at completion. With my roofer, I dribble the money out so he has gas to get to work, but no big payments until he is finished because he won't work unless he is completely broke.

If you only hire licensed and insured contractors it shouldn't ever be an issue whether they are a contractor or an employee (in theory, anyway). For Pete's sake, never have anyone work on your house that isn't insured. If they aren't insured and they get injured, you are toast.

One more hint for those who are just starting out. At most building supply stores if you tell them you are picking up materials for your contractor and ask if you can have the contractor's price, most stores will give you about 10% discount.

When I am buying materials for myself, I tell them I am a landlord and ask if I can have the contractor's discount. Some stores will give it to you. My local paint store does.

Great continuing discussion.

I just facilitated a mastermind meeting today where the primary discussion focused on employees vs. contractors as it related to workmens comp. insurance.

As J. mentioned above when it comes to lawsuits from contractors (or their wives) investors are usually the biggest targets. And it just isn't confined to the death of contractor.

In Maryland one of the specific questions asked to determine if you have an employee or a contractor for the purposes fo workmens comp is...

Who is purchasing the materials?

Based on the discussions on this entire thread I just don't see the benefit of purchasing the materials for your contractors.

Thanks for giving out the info about purchasing supplies.

I have never purchased them before, but might "try" and see which I like better.

Once again, thanks for the help and advice.

James