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Old 03-27-2013, 09:12 PM   #46
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


asinsulation...actually, that information is helpful. I think you might be mistaken that homeowners will never understand. I am amazed to hear that you make under 70/hour, because I would have thought even with all the overhead it would be far more. I believe you. Furthermore, I am comforted to hear even you guys/ladies don't necessarily understand each other's pricing, because otherwise I would not believe it when told in the midst of an estimate. I also don't feels so dumb for not knowing the "ballpark" in advance. Even when I calculate all the overhead I can imagine, it seems they make way more than 70/hour, so this is enlightening news. As nurses top out at 30-ish and have those big student loans plus some liability insurance, annual fees, etc., it is comforting to hear it's no THAT much more. Thanks for commenting, all of you., even the critical ones. Dialogue is good!

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Old 03-27-2013, 09:41 PM   #47
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


As a contractor, who's darn fair with all of his customers, and net's far less per hour than the average RN/LPN, I find these last few posts "interesting" to say the least. SOmeone from the medical field thinks the construction trades make too much, when our anesthesiologist "makes" more in one hour than I do some months........................
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:42 PM   #48
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


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I hope these added observations don't sting the contractors and DIYers who were kind in their comments. I do believe even those blowing off steam, or perhaps a but too defensive are probably just that--Good Guys blowing off steam or a bit too defensive.
You mean you wouldn't like going into a dirt floor basement to work on a furnace. that has a leaking ewer pipe beside it that has been leaking for months. I don't have a haz mat suit.

Or humping 60 plus pounds of tools up a 35 foot suicide ladder to get to the RTU while its raining to get the pharmacy's heat working again(working on 480 volt in the rain is fun). Its even more fun when you have to rope a 168 pound compressor up on to that roof.

Of course working on a foundry's burners is ok in the winter. But in the summer when its 135F average in the foundry, its not pleasant.

Ah the joy of opening up someone's air handler, and seeing all the mold you put your fingers into when you removed the access panel. Glad I don't have medical training to know how risky that is.

I get sick and can't work for 2 weeks. I lose customers. You would lose 2 weeks income. Then return to work.

All fields have their ups and downs.

My neighbor sells fences. Hates doing the ball park over the phone. The customer only wants to hear the lower price they heard over the phone. not the true cost after he sees the job site.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:44 PM   #49
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


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asinsulation...actually, that information is helpful. I think you might be mistaken that homeowners will never understand. I am amazed to hear that you make under 70/hour, because I would have thought even with all the overhead it would be far more. I believe you. Furthermore, I am comforted to hear even you guys/ladies don't necessarily understand each other's pricing, because otherwise I would not believe it when told in the midst of an estimate. I also don't feels so dumb for not knowing the "ballpark" in advance. Even when I calculate all the overhead I can imagine, it seems they make way more than 70/hour, so this is enlightening news. As nurses top out at 30-ish and have those big student loans plus some liability insurance, annual fees, etc., it is comforting to hear it's no THAT much more. Thanks for commenting, all of you., even the critical ones. Dialogue is good!
Get into dialysis. They make more then 30s.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:58 PM   #50
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


I took a call today- the man wants a bathroom in the basement of his 1955 home. Care to guess what his first, second & third question was?
Can you give me a ballpark? What do you think it'll cost? How long will it take?
I got a meeting scheduled for tomorrow I told him he can save money doing his own slab demo. Plumbers shouldn't have to carry concrete rubble. I don't get paid enough for that.....
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:59 PM   #51
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


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I do wonder, and always will: If someone who also does dirty, scary, dangerous, hard labor requiring physical stamina, extreme self-control, high expertise, and constant vigilance at all hours of the day or night, using their own hands and (sometimes dangerous) tools, at risk of physical injury, infection, sometimes getting shot at, kicked, or punched, while putting up with the everyday-type petty abusive customer behavior (on the grounds that they're sick and supposedly "not themselves") and sometimes much disrespect...someone with at least an undergraduate college degree (costing about $25-80,000, with annual upkeep, too) earns far less than 1/3 of what some contractors do....

Comparing what an employee makes per hour against what a company charges is ridiculous, apples-to-oranges.

If you want a fair comparison, contrast what an employee within the medical field makes per hour with benefits verse what their counterpart in the construction field makes.

And if you want a comparison of how much contractor's actually make, contrast what they bill per hour vs. what the hospital bills per hour.

Something tells me the hospital might actually charge more per hour for their service.............
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:02 PM   #52
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


You mentioned that a nurse 'gets' 30 an hour----what do you think the doctor must bill her for to cover her overhead?

Don't forget vacation pay,workmans com, heath insurance, paid training classes, breaks and lunch,--hours billable v. hours on the clock----
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:28 PM   #53
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


I can't believe how long this thread is. It's pretty simple:

A homeowner is not the professional part, the contractor is. So if a homeowner asks a "stupid" question then that's an opportunity for a contractor to educate the consumer.

Don't get mad at or make fun of a consumer asking for a ballpark estimate. Simply just explain what your process is. Either they get it or they don't.

If you don't like homeowners who buy their own supplies at home depot, then don't do work for them in the first place.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:33 AM   #54
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


That and if you're a contractor then you already know what ranges of prices exist for a given kind of job. Estimating properly is a skill, often lacking in many professions. As is qualifying customers. It critical to learn how to tell if a job is going to be cost-effective enough to pursue, while remaining competitive in the market.

Yeah, the customers are naive and possibly unreasonable. Experience will teach you whether or not you're capable of maintaining a profitable business working around those givens. This is true in just about any profession, not just residential contracting.
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:00 AM   #55
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


I do wonder, and always will: If someone who also does dirty, scary, dangerous, hard labor requiring physical stamina, extreme self-control, high expertise, and constant vigilance at all hours of the day or night, using their own hands and (sometimes dangerous) tools, at risk of physical injury, infection, sometimes getting shot at, kicked, or punched, while putting up with the everyday-type petty abusive customer behavior (on the grounds that they're sick and supposedly "not themselves") and sometimes much disrespect...someone with at least an undergraduate college degree (costing about $25-80,000, with annual upkeep, too) earns far less than 1/3 of what some contractors do....

Why is that? And yes, I am describing a Registered Nurse with a 3-7 year degree. I have wondered many times whether I should switch careers, so I could pay off my college loans before my body gives out.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I do not know where you live but your pay scale is out of whack.

by the way, assuming contractors make more than you is just that, and assumption.

i also have a BS degree in business. i also will give ball parks over the phone if pressed.

i also give estimates where my price remains he same at he end of the job.

i also know that unforeseen problems occur on old houses. This is because as an owner of a house built in the 1870's, I know that there have been many people working on it, some good and some bad.

your ranting I hope makes you feel better, but assuming that a carpenter will not charge for time spent getting materials is just plain ignorant.
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:25 AM   #56
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


I just find it amazing that someone who works 45 hours a week, and commutes for 8, has 3 little dogs that have to be walked very late at night...and then goes to school, and also cleans their money pit has time to post such a lengthy dissertation.

For me personally, I find that explaining to a contractor why you might need a ballpark over the phone works pretty well.

I always say something like, "Look I know you can't tell me exactly without seeing this job, but I don't want to waste your time, so if you can give me some sort of idea about what is involved cost-wise... I won't hold you to an exact figure, but it would help me with figuring out whether or not to have you out here to take a look."

I am honest with them, and 9 out of 10 times, they give me some sort of range or idea, and I can usually tell if they are blowing smoke or not.

But, I also do this with a respect for the person I am speaking with. When people go in with a $40 budget in mind to finish a job that clearly calls for $200, I can totally imagine that contractors are not interested in helping you figure out you aren't even in the ballpark.

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Old 03-28-2013, 12:17 PM   #57
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


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I price out my work comp, utilities, gen lia, medical, auto for the course of the year. I divide by 150 and add that number to my hourly rate.
Could you imagine if every profession did this?

Customer: "Why does my $20 entree cost $120 on the bill"?

Owner: "Because this is a privately owned restaurant. I have to add on to cover my workers comp, social security, utilities, liability, medical, auto, gas, time at Costco, shipping, deoderant for my employees (your server did smell nice, right?) and aspirin to deal with you. See? It says right there, all orders come with a $100 fee to cover these things."

That'd be silly. Your costs of being employable are your costs. They don't concern the customer. What matters to the customer is one thing... THE PRICE TO GET THE JOB DONE SATISFACTORILY. That is all that matters. Because that is so important, this thread was started to gripe about why contractors seemingly often, despite doing this for a living and likely having fixed 1000 cracks in their life, can so rarely quote a price.

In fact some contractors have said they don't even understand each others' pricing. How on Earth could a customer understand it then when it is so arbitrary and varied?

That I think is the OP's general gripe. That a basic job (like filling a simple crack) should be able to be described on the phone as "Barring any complications, it'll be around $500 to injection fill a crack". Yet you don't find that.

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Now, take that $200 bucks, minus $60 on material, minus his overhead, minus the fuel, and pay the taxes on the income.
It's sounding like you're saying a customer should pay for the fuel for someone to do their job. Really? I drive to work. Nobody pays for my fuel. That serves to reduce my post-tax discretionary funds. And the customer should pay your income tax?

As you said, the reason contractors generally won't quote, is because this is BUSINESS. It is the eternal dichotomy between customer and provider... the customer wants to pay the minimum while the provider wants to earn the maximum. By not quoting out, one can get onsite and put the customer in a situation where they are more likely to say yes to a higher price. It is just BUSINESS and we're all in our respective businesses to make money. Giving a quote on the phone, it is simply too easy for the customer to decline and call another till they get a price they like, which leads to a net of lower prices paid. Nothing wrong w that. It is Capitalism at work. Thus I don't fault my concrete guy for not bidding on the phone.

This mechanic will not likely change, and it will forever be a sore spot for homeowners who simply want to be able to shop prices like w anything else.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:01 PM   #58
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


A huge problem with how the world works in general is bad communication/lack of knowledge. People should know that some contractors (and I include handymen in that category) could charge $40 and hour and less and make a good, honest living and get the job done well, and even build the closet I was talking about for $560 - $700 rather than the $2000 quoted on the other forum. It's also helpful to know that contractors actually admit (again on the other forum) that a handyman is sometimes the right person for a job such as building a closet. Maybe some contractors can't stay in business if they charge under $2000 but I'm not going to pay more than twice the price just to give someone with business model that's optimized for something else my little closet job, unless for some reason I'm pretty darn worried about the quality of work I'd get from the $40/hr guy compared to the guy will the alleged extra overhead.

I remember a few years ago building contractors topped the list in consumer complaints. I think dating services were contenders. And I remember an investigation that found the majority of air conditioner repair companies rip people off. Consumers have good reason to be wary of these companies and their charges.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:17 PM   #59
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


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A huge problem with how the world works in general is bad communication/lack of knowledge. People should know that some contractors (and I include handymen in that category) could charge $40 and hour and less and make a good, honest living and get the job done well, and even build the closet I was talking about for $560 - $700 rather than the $2000 quoted on the other forum.
I doubt it. He would need to work with his tools 8hrs. a day, bid work at night- including meeting with prospective clients, balance his books on the weekend, change his oil on monday holidays, talk to his accountant and attorney on the phone while swinging his hammer, get materials on his lunch break, because he can't afford any support staff.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:24 PM   #60
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What's funny about the Homeowners' naivete?


If it's a side job where he could go weeks without a job he could do it. And $40/hr is way above minimum wage so I think he could do it anyway, maybe making a somewhat less than "nice" living.

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