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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