Do What Your Conscience Can Handle

I have not had many good experiences with contractors.  My first contractor experience came when I owned a house in the DC area.  An unexpected opportunity for a contract job developed while I was working an exercise in Korea as an Army Reservist.  The contract job required I be back in Korea ten days after returning to the States from the exercise.  I had ten days to get packed up, figure out what I would do with the house, and get back to Korea to start working.   I decided to put the house on the market to sell.  I knew a contractor from the gym who said he would be able to do the work needed to put the house on the market.  I wrote the guy a check for $5,300.  A couple days later I was on a plane going back to Korea.

The guy told me it was a simple job and would only take a week to put in new flooring on the main level and bathrooms.  A month passed and the guy never even started.  I asked him to refund my money so I could find someone else to do the work.  Instead of refunding my money, he ripped up the existing floors.  Two more months past and he did maybe $3,000 worth of work.  I was paying the mortgage and needed to get the house on the market to sell. I ended up paying another contractor to finish the job.  

I was in Korea during this entire process.  I contacted two lawyers and both told me their fees would be higher than any money I would be awarded and good luck actually getting any money from the guy.  The guy did about two-thirds of the job I hired him for.  I ate two mortgage payments due to the delays.  He never felt any need to refund any of my money.  Do what your conscience can handle.

I bought a house when I arrived in Colorado.  I wanted a garage built and found a contractor for the build.  A large reason I went with this contractor was because he said the garage would be finished by Thanksgiving.  I hired him the end of October.  It took them a month to demo the existing one car garage but he told me the job would be done by Christmas.  I didn’t have a garage until March.  The garage was well built.  I just don’t get why it took over four months.  I felt like I was in the Money Pit with the contractor telling me, “Two Weeks.”  Maybe I could have fired him and hired someone else but figured this would just result in more money and even more delays.  I was in a bad situation and the contractor knew it.  Do what your conscience can handle.

After about a three week delay getting engineer drawings, I have been trying to find a contractor for the build.  The first contractor walked through the space the week of 09 MAY.  Despite a reminder email, I never heard back from them.  I had two more contractors walk through the space on 17 MAY.  I also never heard back from one of them.  The other submitted a bid for over $200,000.  All the equipment and furniture are being paid for separately as well as the shelving, benches, and finishes.  $200,000 only covered putting in electrical, plumbing, mechanical, building the bar, and installing the other finishes that I already paid.  The space is 1000 sqft.  There is nothing structural being done.  The floor needs to be saw cut for plumbing.  We are putting in a panel and running exposed conduit for electrical.  I am amazed that this company is charging $200/sqft. 

I briefly looked into building a house.  I was told figure around $120/sqft based on what fixtures are going in the kitchen and bathrooms.  $120/sqft included a foundation and stick construction.  Again, I am amazed that this company is charging $200/sqft.  Are the guys swinging hammers and doing the work getting paid more?  Is the money going right to the company executives?  This is Ayn Rand capitalism - my only goal is to make as much money as possible.  Do what your conscience can handle.

Right now I’m looking into finding a GC to just pull permits.  I figure I will have much more control over the process if I am the one hiring the subs.  I don’t want to rip anybody off and take money off someone’s table.  I want to pay a fair price for honest work.  So far I have just been shocked by what people’s conscience can handle.