First of all, I didn't start this thread to attack the professional tradesmen, but sometimes it gets to a point where even if you want to pay someone for a job, you end up DIYing the last 10% (or 25 or 50) of the work whether it be additional damages, debris cleanup or poor workmanship.
May be this is unique in South Florida, I am not sure.
I have a long list of pet peeves, but I will just mention a few here that I noticed that seems to happen almost all the time.
For example, whenever I hire someone to do work outside, say painting, stucco plastering, landscape, pest control, anything that involves borrowing your garden hose to dilute, mix, rinse...they ALWAYS find a way to deform the hose ends - by stepping on the connection, cross threading the connection, dropping the nozzle, clogging the nozzle, and they NEVER turn the hose bib off, they just release the nozzle handle and leave the hose pressurized. Last year I had a hose ruptured in the back yard, and water was spraying for two days, until I heard water running in the walls late at night when no one was using any water. My water bill that month was $600 more than usual.
Also, I have not seen one that will properly dispose of trash. Even after explaining that we have black carts for regular trash, green carts for yard waste, blue carts for recycle (paper, glass, aluminum), the good ones would throw burger wrappers into the yard waste carts, put soda cans and bottle water into the regular waste carts, and put caulk tubes, left over 2X4s, and an entire ceiling fan into the recycle carts. That's the good ones. The bad ones would just leave trash everywhere. I mean, the trash can is 18" from him, he finished drinking his coffee, then he walks 20 feet away from the trash can, and tosses it on the floor. He would go to the refrigerator, takes out a new water bottle, takes a sip, then leave it by a window, 30 minutes later, he comes back and takes another bottle, and at the end of the day, there would be six bottles of water still 90% full laying around in different places, two of them knocked over and spilled.
Have you lent tools to someone you hired? Their sawzall isn't working, or their drill isn't working...OK in order to keep the progress, here is mine. But is it a rule that one must step on the tool plug real hard so when you return it to the owner the plug blades are bent 45 degrees from each other? Also, if you borrow MY cordless tools, is it possible to not take my drill and use it as a hammer? Why does EVERYONE who borrowed my cordless drill or impact driver use the battery end to pound on nails or lumber?
Is it too much to ask to use the materials as intended? Say I have six pieces of 2X4s and six pieces of 2X6 I bought for some framing work. I showed the carpenter what needs to be done and the materials is there. You have EVERYTHING? YES I HAVE EVERYTHING. First thing he does, takes a piece of 2X6 and wanted to use it, but he needs a 2X4, so he goes to the table saw and rip himself a 2X4. Two hours later he calls me and said he can't proceed, because he needs 2X6s. HELLO???
Recently, a friend of mine who is building a set of six town houses in the final stage of finishing. His finish carpenter who did the first five houses wasn't available due to hurricane stoppages, so he hired someone new to do the baseboards and door trims on the last house. The guy when to house #3 that was already finished, removed the painted baseboards and trims, and installed it in house #6 then collected payment.
Is this unique to South Florida or are others having similar experiences?
I know a lot of this involves proper vetting, checking references, BUT, it all depends on the knowledge of the previous clients. If they can't tell the difference, their references are worthless.
Again, not trying to attack the skilled professionals, but some of the stories are just comical. I am sure there are many bad clients as well.
Share your pet peeves.
I've never, ever hired a contractor that didn't bring his own tools. Using your hose? Borrowing power tools? Ripping a 2x6 to make a 2x4 when a 2x4 was already provided? Those are indications you're trying to save money by hiring cheap, taking the first person that responded to a Craigslist ad, or extremely unlucky.
I can assure it is not only in South Florida but everywhere the same issue. Recently I rehabbed the property in NJ and I live in PA.
2 weeks ago I paid the guy to hallway the trash and to do a few things around the house. Guy took the trash(I paid him) and for other items( I gave him in advance because I was not able to come back and pay him due to Thanksgiving). He did not finish and ask for more $$$ this was Thanksgiving time. I told him first you finsh the things we agreed and I will pay you. He didn’t do other items plus he brought the trash and dumped the trash in the garage!
You might think I either pick the lowest bid, or hire without vetting. This is not true at all.
I usually take three bids, some I randomly pick from online sites like Yelp, Home Advisors with good feedback, others from recommendations etc. I hardly ever use CL for hired help except on just hard labor stuff, like tree debris removal after hurricanes.
I also know I am extremely picky. My day job is structural engineering so I am very detail oriented.
But I kept running into problems. Now I am not saying the actual workmanship is terrible. I could have an excellent carpenter that just don't clean up well, or a good stucco plasterer but leaves wet stucco on my brick pavers for me to clean up with muriatic acid...
Give you another example. I just had an area of my concrete tiled roof damaged by hurricane Irma, and I called three licensed, insured, bonded roofers to come to provide an estimate. Each of them came and went up to the roof with me following. Each of them as they walked on my roof tiles cracked more tiles as they walked. These are roofers, they are supposed to know how to walk on a roof. I followed them and I didn't break one as I know how to walk a tiled roof. Now I have ten more cracked tiles in addition to the 20 broken ones from Irma.
As far as tools, they have their own tools, it's when their own tools broke down. So they are not making progress, so either they have to waste more time to try and fix their tool, or they go buy a new one, or borrow mine. In order to keep pace, I offered mine.
I have never had these types of issues, but the messy contractor is one I have learned to love with. I had some guys who were meticulous and left the house cleaner. I have had others who left a giant mess. I simply made sure to come in and clean once they were done. I have lent tools, never had one used as a hammer. I have never had a sub remove trim from one house to do another, or rip down 2x6s when he already had 2x4s.
Sounds like a bad run of guys. Hopefully they are an exception and not the norm!
Another one, is that more and more people are constantly on their phones. The phone pings twenty times an hour...they have to stop and look at it and respond.
OK I understand sometimes you are coordinating something and can't help it, but can't you wait till a good breaking point? I see people with gloves on in the middle cement with a drill, or have masks on sanding down the ceiling plaster, or on a ladder with a paint roller...shouldn't be stopping to get their phones. It actually disrupts their thought process and makes them forget what they were doing..."oh did I add the mildewcide to the paint already, or not..."
My pet peeve: Why can't a professional painter clean up a paint can properly for storage? Invariably, if there is any paint left in a one-gallon can, I have to open it, clean the paint out of the rim and off the bottom of the lid and the reseal the can. Otherwise, the paint will dry out faster, the can will rust and the lid will be glued on by all the paint left in the rim. If the painter would just avoid wiping off the brush on the can or take a minute at the end to clean the rim properly, things would be much simpler. I expect to get rusted, poorly sealed paint cans from a previous owner, but a professional painter should know better.
came in here to echo @Nathan G. you aren't paying enough.
OR you're just not setting the guildines of your expectations well enough.
Contractor leaves a mess, it's only acceptable if you don't firmly tell them that they have to clean up after themselves. BE FIRM
contractor borrows your tools. Sorry I don't have tools, this is a mis-hire.
Cost me $600 for neglect. I'm going to call you with a verbal assault that will make you uncomfortable like you wouldn't believe.
Point is, pay for professionalism and DEMAND professionalism. Let them get away with nothing, and don't except work below your standard. Be firm like concrete
I had to really laugh as I read the comments since employees drive me crazy. For my day job I own Subway restaurants. People ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I own "Adult Daycare" businesses. After 25 years I could write a novel on this subject! I actually just sold 3 stores a month ago. 35 employees gone - BAM! 2 more stores next week - another 13 gone. I hope to be employee free in 6 - 8 weeks. 75 less problems to deal with in the future.
As far as employees and trash at a job site, I always require the contractor to clean the house up the last 15 minutes of the day. That includes picking up their cups, bottles, sweeping the floor, etc. I always tell them "Your momma don't work here, clean up your mess"!
@Sam Leon all I can say is contractors shouldn't be paid until the job is completed as agreed. If they break your garden hose, deduct it from their pay. If they need to borrow tools, send them to the Home Depot rental center. If they leave trash behind, let them know they can pick up their check right after picking up the trash.
I think it's a matter of expectations and enforcement. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.
Lend out my tools!!! Nope never! Not going to happen. I would never expect any other professional to do so with their tools either! I worked in many of the trades. I worked under one roofer who after two years would always sell his tools at auction to get new ones. Reason being he KNEW they would soon fail from the use and abuse they had received and it was just easier for him to get new ones every two years. You may not always know when exactly your tools will fail but you should have a pretty good idea. Having said that if one of my drills or saws failed while I was on the job, I would be getting another one immediately NOT using another person's.
With respect to the "mess" that contractors leave, that's a great point! I have worked with many others in trades and after I tell them exactly what I want them to do and we agree upon a price, I then start talking about the terms of payment.
Small jobs under 1K payment is always done at then end.
Medium jobs 1K - 5K I usually split into 2 payments very heavily back loaded to the end of the project.
Large jobs 5k + I usually split into 3-4 payments with the last payment being at least 60% of the total contract.
In all situations I ask if clean up is going to be included or not with the work they're doing. If they say they are going to clean up their mess, I expect it. If they say they aren't I use that to negotiate price as I will most likely have to do it myself or pay someone else to do it.
As for the phone issue. That's an absolute easy one! If I'm working next to someone and they answer their phone throughout the job I simply ask if they're focused on the job at hand or more interested in the next one. I tell them if they answer the phone one more time while working they can forget about this job and any other jobs I have on the go.
Originally posted by @Colleen F. :30 In. Magnetic Sweeper with Wheels
The roofers get me. They can do the job well but they invariable leave roof debris on the driveway or somewhere else by not tossing it onto a tarp. Nails...
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Its not just the roofers with the nails. drywall screws find their way onto the driveway and garage floors...
picking up nails and screws sucks , but so does puncturing tires in my personal vehicles...I leave this thing on my box truck so that it is handy.
I made the mistake of paying my last contractor half up front to start the job, and then giving him advances throughout. I was fortunate that for the most part he came back and finished the work, but I also did part of the work for him. Moving forward, and after discussion with him it is frustrating on his part when he goes to jobs and the material is all not there, he does not want to run to the store constantly and would rather be working, which I understand and made sure I had all the material there for him which I purchased. I think moving forward I would use him again and the others I will use I will take this approach.
1. Offer to have them make a list and you buy and gather all material to complete job, this allows you to have control over cost of the material on the project and know what exactly is being used. I also like this idea, because not always do I want to use the cheapest thing I will be having to replace if it is a rental. I want the option to use the better grade, or nicer finish.
2. Pay something to get them started. I realize most contractors bid by job. In this example lets say they bid $1,000 to complete the job in 1 week, you supply material. I will pay them $30 an hour at the end of each day for the hours they have worked. If the job is completed and the full $1,000 has not been paid you will receive the rest. (This should be noted this is how I will do with my handyman, or odd job guys).
3. Make a list, then make another list. I create a scope of work before they bid the job, I write down what I am willing to pay -10% (which they do not know I subtract that %) and am willing to pay anything close to that. I have a fair understanding of how long something should take and feel comfortable doing this. What I did on my last list is would write the line item *new drywall to be installed in all rooms* - 32 man hours @ $22/ hour ~ $704. This allows me to create a budget while supplying them with my expectation. Rarely are they going to tell me when I am high, but like I said I am comfortable with my numbers when I do this and am not worried if they finish it in 25 hours, good for them, it is hard work and they deserve to be compensated if it is completed ahead of schedule.
4. Retainer for punch list. I will withhold the last x amount for them to complete the punch list. I set the expectation the job site should be in the same shape it was when they arrived, and any patching or "tightening" left to do be done. It is common to grab a roll of blue painters tape and tear a 1" piece off to spot fouls that need to be fixed in the industry. That being said, I wouldn't go crazy on the punch but just point out the major areas of defect.
After reading these stories I have to question are you guys hiring contractors that are real businesses , or are you hiring guys with tools ? When I hear $30 bucks an hour , and borrowing tools , and guys calling saying they need more materials , I cant help from laughing . Why ? I pay the guys that work for me $25 to $40 an hour I then mark that up to cover overhead and profit . We clean up at the end of the day , Borrow tools ? Never . Wait for materials , nope , thats why materials are included in the price of the job , and we get them delivered by the supply house . We NEVER let customers supply anything.............................. but money
For those who thinks this is the difference between a hired helper (say from a Home Depot parking lot) vs a licensed, insured, bonded tradesman, in my experience this is not the case.
I rarely hire totally unknowns off Craigslist unless it's something straightly labor such as debris removal.
However when it comes to carelessness, tidiness and cleanliness there is no correlation between a $30 an hour person vs a $150 an hour person. Not in my experience. I think it's either a formed habit of a certain person.
Most of the skilled trades people, as I have come to notice, have some sort of "quirts" - not sure how else I would call it.
I have a guy Jorge who is probably one of the few guys left who knows how to restore terrazo floors. He is in high demand and does floor work for stores like Luis Vuitton, Gucci etc...he doesn't do clean up work. He just do his thing and leave. When he is available I clear my schedule and he comes with his crew do their things. Then they leave. No clean up and mess everywhere. I asked him if he leaves a mess at Luis Vuitton, he laughes and say they use a clean up crew after them.
There is also another guy who I hire from time to time to do old fashion plastering. Again not many of these people around anymore when everyone just sheetrock and mud. One property I had there is some special texture stucco and interior plaster from the 60s, I hired two plasterers, and fired both before I found Andrew. In between I myself used a grinder to grind off their work so the next "attempt" can start fresh. This is around 160 linear feet of exterior wall around a swimming pool. Finally Andrew was able to produce the result I want. Since then I have used him to restore old rock lath walls and ceilings in other places. Not cheap at $400 a day labor only, and 6 hour days. However, what does Andrew do when he goes to the bathroom? He walks to my backyard and just pee under a tree. I have a bathroom, why wouldn't Andrew use it? Andrew said he prefers doing it outside, it's more relaxing. I said Andrew, if you are worried about tracking cement under your shoes inside, don't worry. Andrew said he likes to do it under a tree, it's better. OK Andrew.
I think if I have really strict contracts and rules, there would be a trade off. I would be hiring less skilled people who follow my rules, but I wouldn't be able to obtain services from some of these really skilled craftsmen who may not be as clean or tidy as I want, but they do absolutely good quality work and in some cases, they do work that no one does anymore.
Right now, I am trying to find someone who can do on site metal fabrication on the roof, to redo two catch basins that receive rain runoff from a dutch gutch system. The original basin is in copper and leaking. I need someone who can weld/solder a copper basin on the roof. People who can do this don't exist anymore. Spoke to 4 roofers and 2 gutter guys, and they said no, we don't have anyone who is going to be able to tackle this.
On the other hand, I have worked with contractors where I have iron clad contracts with all the details noted, a nd came out of the job unhappy and felt taken advantage of.
Last year I had a demolition job. Hired a contractor to demo a concrete deck (about a 50'x15') area and the front concrete driveway. Contract specified all concrete debris to be removed from the job. I wasn't there all the time, may be check in at the begin and end of the week. Once the job was done and paid for, two months later, I wanted to modify the sprinkler system, and dug into the new sod to find the pipe for me to add a tee, and what did I find? Concrete debris. The more I dug around, the more I found. I called up the contractor, and he said yes he left some small size rocks. He removed the big pieces, but smaller pieces (6", 8" chunks or less) he left them in. I was not happy. The contract called for ALL concrete debris, not some. He's already paid, nothing I can do. I already had new lawn furniture in place, a gazebo erected, and no way I can tear it back up again. By the way, he also charged me an extra $800 over the contract price, because the city inspector made him hire two people for the three days where he had the concrete trucks or dump trucks sitting outside waiting, to put traffic cones and wave flags to direct traffic when one lane was partially blocked. He didn't include that into the estimate, and I had to pay for the extra cost. $800? On a 25K project?
Oh there is another one some years back. It was also a demo project. At a large property I needed to gut a place. Remove sheetrock on ceilings and walls, sheetrock, tiles, carpets, bathroom fixtures. All debris to be removed. Contractor came and I asked him to take his time, if he needs to make holes, measure, knock yourself out. It's all being gutted anyways. I was quoted 12K. He prepared a detailed contract. Started work a week later. Two days in he calls. The bathroom tiles are A LOT thicker then he anticipated. He thought it's tiles on sheetrock, but it's tiles on floated concrete over metal lath. Very thick stuff and he needs more money. How much? Like $3000. I thought about it, shouldn't you have checked the tiles when you bid? Why am I now paying for your oversight? But hey, it's only money I want good work and I don't want him to short cut something else to make it up, so I agreed to the extra 3K. When the job was all done before I pay him I wanted to walk the job. As we walked I noticed all the old nails, and screws are still on the wood studs and ceiling joists. I said why aren't those removed? He said that's not part of the contract. They are to remove all the walls, which they did. The fasteners are not part of the walls, if they came off when they tore the walls, fine, if not, they are not obligated to remove them. However, he would be happy to give me an estimate on how much to remove all the nails and screws. True, he didn't put remove fasteners on the contract, but I have never had a job where they didn't remove them. I paid the guy the balance and that's it. No way would I hire him to remove the nails. My son and I spent the entire weekend removing nails and screws LOL. These are big time contractors and you get screwed literally the same.
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