What To Expect When Hiring a Contractor

by Yussef on October 31, 2018

We are in a time where Contractors have become a hot commodity in California, therefore sometimes getting on the schedule could be tough. The scarcity of Contractors (especially Service Contractors) has created several issues that go beyond scheduling. In the world of economics, if the supply goes down and demand is up, you’re likely to notice an increase in price. But what is too much? How do you know what market rate is and what is fair pricing? Also, how long should you expect to wait to schedule a service call and/or a construction project? In this article we’ll discuss what to expect when calling a trades contractor and also what not to expect.

Due to a steady economy and great deal of construction going on in California and around the Country, you will find that most Contractors are really busy. So what does that mean for you? In a lot of cases it may seem impossible to schedule work, especially if it not convenient or really profitable to the Contractor. We know some Contractors who won’t return calls for projects under $50,000. Other Contractors are booked out a couple months, and some are booked out one year. So what if you have a small job or plumbing emergency? Companies like ours that are more service based have a service team that are always taking calls but will also usually have a couple larger projects going on. A good Company will always find a way to balance things out and make time for their preferred clients. In any event, you should try your best to be patient and keep mind there is a big scarcity of skilled trade labor.

How much is too much? So now that you know how busy most Contractor type businesses are, how long should you expect to wait for scheduling a project? Well…it depends on the following; type of project, size of project and your relationship with the contractor. If the project is not very convenient to the Contractor, they may put you off for several weeks. What do I mean by convenient? Here is an example; a 100 Gal. water heater installation is considered an easy job for most plumbers, the average ticket for something like this is $8,000, replacing a sewer line under a building is a lot messier, uncomfortable and proposes a lot more work….average ticket $3500 (depending on the length, of course). It only makes sense the average plumbing company (not us) will give preference to the water heater project. All in all, it really depends on how much a Company wants your business. You shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to give someone work, find a Company that is responsive, could schedule something right away (even if it’s a couple weeks out) and is thankful for your business.

As for pricing; everything in California is skyrocketing, budget accordingly for Contractors as their pricing reflects the current market and supply/demand conditions. It is also wise to get several bids. Per my example above, some Contractors will try to make the smaller and less lucrative job a big ticket item. On the other hand, if you like to negotiate pricing, the odds are not in your favor in this economy. Because the demand is so high, most Contractors will not budge on their quotes because they have more than enough work.

In conclusion, make sure you give yourself enough time to plan a project. It is really unlikely to get Contractors to schedule and start work within the same month you received an estimate. For emergencies, ask for an approximate cost and thorough report of the work performed. Build relationships with vendors, it’s always good to get to know the people who will be doing work for you. Be patient, you may have to make several calls before finding a good Contractor who wants your business. And lastly, don’t settle! As contractors, we always say if there is a business in the trades that is not busy, something is weird. Don’t settle for a “weird” one.

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Occasionally we are asked to quote a repipe project where the owner doesn’t know which material would be best for the property. At that point it is important we inform our customer about the different options and recommend something that will be in their best interest. Because we are usually bidding against another contractor, we need to let our customer know about the quality difference in not just craftsmanship but also material. While we always aim to be the most competitive, we always make sure our projects are bid with the adequate material that will get our customers a better long term ROI. With that said, in the next t couple paragraphs I’ll discuss the types of copper you should be using on your next project.

Essentially there are three types of copper; Type M, Type L and Type K (there are a couple more but these are the most relevant). Type M being of the lowest grade and Type K being of the highest grade, So which one is the right grade for your project? If we are talking about a residential project the answer is Type L (medium grade) all the way. Most of the leaks our company repairs are on Type M copper, therefore we DO NOT install Type M. Some of our competitors will bid with Type M so they are more competitive but we know how expensive that could be for customers in the long run, so we just stay away. Truthfully we use Type L in 95% of our copper projects. I cant really think of a reason to use Type M, yes, it costs less but the cost difference is not significant enough to run the risk.

So how about K? Type K is the heavy duty stuff, it’s used more in commercial and industrial buildings. K is the only type of copper that is allowed under ground. It is good for plumbing high pressure liquids or gasses. You will probably find Type K plumbing in labs and breweries. The cost is substantially more than both the other grades so I would not recommend using it for a standard home/building repipe. I hope this brief article was insightful and gave you some knowledge about copper. My suggestion to you is, next time you get a bid for your project, review the material list and make sure you are getting quality stuff that is not going to be a problem for you soon after the install. You know the saying, “pay now or pay later”

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