A psych question couched as a DIY question : )


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Old 05-23-16, 08:38 AM
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A psych question couched as a DIY question : )

Hope you guys don't mind me posting this here. You've helped me on loads of questions I've had in this and other forums on this site. You're all much more level headed and learned than me. Maybe you can help with this?

So we had a master bath redone by a contractor who did the same for a good friend's bathroom recently. He's done other smaller work for them over the years also (he's a plumber and has a carpenter and electrician that he called in for other work).

I'm doing a running total of costs and we'll come in around $44K for this bath. We've debated for years who to hire to do the work, we've debated what we've wanted it to look like. We finally moved ahead with this guy.

And this is the first time we've had any substantial work done by others in the house - I'm pretty handy and have a hard time delegating or relying on others in general (I am self employed with no employees).

Anyway, over the weeks with this project we've had issues with the contractor and his subs, tile supplier, counter supplier, medicine cabinet manufacturer.

I don't think we (my wife and I) are overly critical, but in trying to get things corrected / resolved, we likely have a shorter fuse... and the crux of the question - feel insulted / offended / frustrated with the people that screwed up and wonder how other deal with things.

For example, we wanted 2 medicine cabinets installed right next to each other. That needs / requires a 'ganging kit' - a bracket that hold the 2 cabinets together. The contractor called me saying we're putting in the cabinets - how are they going in (as much as he wanted everything we were supplying to be on site, he didn't look over everything - he installed his own round shower drain when we had bought a square drain. I pointed that out before it was tiled in place).

I told them they would be joined together with a ganging kit. he calls back saying he doesn't see the ganging kit. I called the plumbing supply house - did we order the ganging kit? Our contact was out of the office. I call the manufacturer (a local place that also does the shower door / glass. A woman in customer service says 'the ganging kit is something that has to be ordered and ships in a seperate box'. I call the contractaor saying to look for a seperate box. But did I order it? Call the plumbing supply and no one can help us right then. I look on manufacturer website and it says in list of features that ganging kit is included!? Call the manufacturer again and someone else says 'it's included if you request it'. WTF!? Why not say 'included on request'?

Wind up getting a 3rd person at manufacturer who could find our order, confirm the ganging clip was included and should be in the box (not seperate). I tell the contractor to look harder and he finds the part in the box. 1 hour of my time wasted.

Me being me (and the point of the post)... I wound up ranting to the president of the manufacturer about inept customer service person (sold seperate and in a seperate box), and the website (included.. not 'included on request').

The plumbing supply contact (an aquantance we've known for years in town) called saying 'you had a problem?'. I explain the situation and he winds up basically saying 'you got the part? You're all set?' I say yes. So he suggests moving forward.

>>>> Do you just move forward when being inconvenienced with inept companies / people? I feel I should be compensated / apologized / they should take my advice to improve their website info and spend even more time ranting to them / make a point to warn others.

A similar situation - the contractor installed a ventilation fan. Connected it to power and it was running while they did sheet rock / spackle / sanding. So it was loaded with dust. Me being me, I took it down and complete cleaned it... and in the process, saw that there was a piece of tape holding the flapper leading to the vent pipe was still in place from the factory. Am I wrong to thing that I'm paying a fair amount for them ... and it should be done right the first time? If you can't get it right the first time / I have to catch things, then I should be getting a break on the price?

I'm not trying to find mistakes just to get a price break. If I wanted things to get screwed up the first time, I could do it myself.

So again, to summerize if you've read this far - do you point out that something went wrong / they gave you wrong info then you (eventually) get the part / correct info and you move on? Or do you feel a need to try to get them to improve their process / compensate you for the troubles?

Yes, the way I do it takes more time and causes me more stress, but I'm paying $x for something. Am I wrong to think I'm not paying $x for something incomplete or takes 2 tries to get it right or something I have to police to point out errors.

Sorry, one other thing along the same lines - dealing with situations when the cure is worse than the disease. We recently had garage doors installed. 2 panels were rubbing and they adjusted them. Some paint was rubbed off from the misalignment (on the surfaces you don't see when the door is down). The kid they sent to do the realignment took a can of white spray paint to cover that paint. Rather than mask the black hardware, he sprayed and the NEW black parts that were screwed onto the doors (fake hinges in a barn door look) had some white overspray. He takes a sharpie and covers up the dots.

I ranted to the owner about this and he says he can replace the fake hinges. In my view, unscrewing them , then rescrewing new ones, they likely won't hold as tight and over time will come loose and or will scratch the doors in the removal / install - so I have them leave the white speckled hardware as is, curse the installed and warn others. Thoughts?

Thanks!
 
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Old 05-23-16, 10:22 AM
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You pose some good questions, with no easy answers. It sounds like you're playing the role of the general contractor (GC), which is why you're stuck with handling these 'little' issues. It's why good GCs are usually onsite and have trusted trade contractors working for them. It's not only because the contractor knows how to do their job, but also because the contractor knows what the GC expects from them.

Looking at it from the contractor/trade's perspective, they bid the job expecting it to be X, Y, and Z. When there's something that is outside their normal; a square drain or a cabinet ganging kit, it will take them longer to figure it out, refer to the instructions, etc. Now, I'm not saying they shouldn't - but some people will by default take the path of least resistance.


Personally, I think when you hire a contractor, you have to expect that they will do it 90% as well as you'd do it yourself. Most of the time, they aren't going to take the extra time to do something that you might since it's your house and are very picky. But at the end of the day, the 90% will get the project done, functional, and working. Or be prepared to talk to the contractor when you are getting estimates and let them know you are VERY picky and want everything perfect - and are willing to pay some extra $$ to make it that way.


Anyway, just my rambling thoughts.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 10:43 AM
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Your rambling?! Please! I appreciate the thoughts and you were much more concise compared to me.

And yes, my wife has said we're the GC (not that we are supposed to be). But I'm asking more of a general question - how do you handle problems in projects.... and in life. Both during the problem and after it's resolved. After someone causes you grief, do you just get what you need and move on or feel that you want to improve their system or be compensated for your trouble?

I bought 2 timer switches from Lowes.com. They sent them in 2 seperate packages 4 days apart, the packing slip on the first said 1 ordered, 1 shipped. I called their customer service and was on hold /talking to them for 30 minutes and they confirmed 2 total were coming.

When the 2nd one showed up, it had been shipped from a store, was opened and package was taped back together. I wanted a new one. Brought it to a strore to return it, got in touch with regional manager and then executive office and got a $50 card for my troubles.

Other people might just return the item or even keep it. I have the need to point out how wacked their system is - long hold times, 2 packages 4 days apart, no indication the 2nd one is coming and then send a repackaged item.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 11:45 AM
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We all have certain expectations, and as a contractor, I try very hard to meet everyone of yours if not exceed everyone of them. When doing custom work, such as yours, many times we are dealing with an item, bath fixture, cabinet, tub, etc. that we have never seen or worked with before. Custom size showers, Drawings that don't match the space and customers that have trouble visualizing what the finished product should look like. Communication is key. If you tell the tile helper that you want a square drain, did that message get to the lead tile guy or not? Things need to be in writing before things happen. As the GC, daily briefings keep everyone on the same page. It is possible that your roof vent had a back draft flap already on it so that the flap on the fan itself was not needed and was best left in the open position. Did they need to clean the fan, yes.

I try not to complain too much if something goes wrong (personally, not my business). I instead, if outrageous enough, take my money elsewhere next time. The older I get, the less I seem to really care. Ordered Chinese food the other day after a particularly tough day. Got home, it way 8:30 at night and was hungry. Opened the order and they had left out the rice for one of the dishes. I just let it go, I was hungry and did not have the energy to have a battle let alone get back into the car and go down to the restaurant. Been doing business with this Restaurant for 16 years and they never made a mistake before. I gave them the benefit of a slight miss on a busy Saturday evening. A confrontation would not have changed anything other than given me the illusion of satisfaction. I'll mention it next time we order, if they throw in an egg roll that would be nice, but not necessary.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 11:59 AM
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I'll mention it next time we order, if they throw in an egg roll that would be nice, but not necessary.
They are people of honor. They will absolutely take care of you.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 12:02 PM
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A few rambling thoughts of my own. (BTW, the word is separate, not seperate.)

My daddy once ran the paint shop in an upscale boat yard (read, rich people's yachts). He hired a man who claimed to be a painter. Later in the afternoon this man came to my daddy and asked him to "check his work" to see if it was okay. My daddy asked him a simple question, "Would it be good enough if it was YOUR boat?" The man replied, "Heck, no!" My daddy told him it wasn't good enough.

A man I worked with related a story from his youth. Bob had taken his car to a mechanic for a problem. Several hours later he picks up the car, pays the mechanic and drives off. That evening he is out driving and the same problem reoccurs. He goes back to the mechanic the next day and starts to scream at him. The mechanic lifts the hood and makes one tiny adjustment and everything is fine. Bob continues to scream at the mechanic until the mechanic holds up his hand and says, "In the history of mankind there has been only one man that never made a mistake and they crucified him." I'm a non-believer but I like that story.

There is an old adage about honey will catch more flies than will vinegar.

I'm pretty picky myself and one of the reasons why I DIY is because I AM so picky. But I realize that most people are not as picky as I and now that my physical limitations are stopping me from doing much of what I used to do myself I have to adjust my desires. That does not mean that accept shoddy workmanship or that insist on receiving the lowest prices. Nor does it mean that I berate the workmen doing the work but it DOES mean that I have to gently tell them when they are not meeting my expectations and we have to come to a mutually acceptable compromise. Like the old honey / vinegar conundrum I find that working WITH people is a whole lot better than simply having a fit because they didn't read your mind. I don't expect to be reimbursed mightily for simple mistakes that are corrected nor do I think the contractor should be heavily penalized for making a mistake that they correct.

Quite honestly, if your attitude is as bad as I perceive, word WILL get around and no one will want to work for you. I suggest that you ease up, smell the flowers and enjoy life...with all its problems. You usually only get one chance and working yourself into a heart attack or stroke simply isn't worth it.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 03:28 PM
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Furd has good advice at the end of his post which reminds me of a neighbor of one of my cousins - all of the contractors in the area know he will make so many changes on the fly in any project that they all triple their bids before submitting to him. Not the kind of reputation you want to acquire.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 04:29 PM
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As a contractor, I would recommend a sit-down conversation at the end of job.
You can quote me if you like:

- There is no excuse for keeping a damper taped shut, and a customer needing to point that out
- There is no excuse for any counter problems on something as simple as a vanity
- There's no excuse for the drain, although that would be not worth fixing now

I don't know if you're entitled to compensation, just let the guy know it could have been better.
If it's either the owner of the company, or the workers responsible for questionable work, they need to be put on notice that people pay for something to be done right.
 
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Old 05-24-16, 07:53 AM
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Thank you all for your comments. Stickshift - we aren't making changes, just taking issue with / catching things that aren't getting done right, but I get your point : )

Yesterday, same day as I was typing this, we had 2 separate (sorry, I typed that wrong previously and meant to go back to correct it) issues with other 'vendors' and joking / lamenting with our college daughter who was home about them in relation to the bathroom and how to handle the incidents.

My wife rented a dress for a dinner we are going to tonight through a website that does these rentals. It was her first time dealing with them. They offer a free 2nd size of the same dress to help ensure you get a good fit. She thought she chose that 2nd size. The box came yesterday and there was only 1 dress. I called and they wanted to charge $13 to overnight the 2nd size (my wife was at work / couldn't tell if 2nd dress was needed), even though she thought she ordered the 2nd dress. I wound up googling and working their phone system and ranted to the CEO of this small startup. They wound up dropping off the 2nd dress (their offices are 45 minutes away from us). With my daughter we talked about how some people would just pay the $13 overnight fee, even as they think to themselves "I am sure I ordered a 2nd dress". Yes, my wife should have / could have looked closer at the email confirms. But we saw issues with the website to make it more idiot proof (no offense to my wife).

I bought some electronics from costco 1 1/2 years ago and having issues with it. Calling their concierge service, they said it was part of the 90 day return policy for tvs, computers etc. BUT doesn't get the extended 2 year warranty like TVs, computers, etc. A front line rep AND manager at Concierge service said that. Seems weird that would be the case - my understanding is the 90 day return / 2 year warranty go hand in hand. I called Costco corp, spoke to the buyer to confirm and he said its NOT part of the 90 day return - just bring it back to the warehouse and apologized about the people at concierge. I made a point to complain to concierge management that 2 people there gave out wrong info and were adamant that they were right. It was a $500 device and some people would just say it's out of warranty, oh well, I'll pay to have it fixed. I abhor not getting the right info. People would rather make up stories rather than say 'i don't know - let me get you an answer'.

Oh, as for the vent flapper - it was taped CLOSED.

Handyman and everyone else: you mention:

There is no excuse for any counter problems on something as simple as a vanity

Check this out:

we bought the vanity from dealer A (made by omega - good brand?) it was a custom front and has 21" from wall to front face (is that 'standard'?).

We bought the sink and faucet from dealer B (made by Toto).

We had the counter made by dealer / manufacturer C - (I saw their shop - they buy the slabs and have big CNC machinery / water cutting machines vs. a fly by night using hand tools). My wife picked out the material and color, they sent a guy to make a template, we had the sink and faucet onsite and offered the templater to take both but he took only the sink back with him. My wife emailed the owner of the business to confirm that because I use contacts, it's important that the drain lever is accessible and the owner confirmed things will work.

they bring the counter and back and side splash. the faucet holes were already drilled (the owner said the faucet holes are drilled onsite).

Turns out with the thickness of backsplash, faucet hole location and faucet and sink size, the drain lever isn't movable! So they are making a new counter, making the backsplash thinner and we are looking to go to smaller sinks.

No one to rant at here, but should things just work better? Yeah, it's 'custom' so it's not a proven design. My wife says because we went to firms A, B & C, there's no 1 person checking things (other than us? maybe the counter maker?) I'm assuming the counter company is eating the cost of the 1st counter - should it take 2 slabs to get the counter right?

yeah, we may develop (or already have) a reputation as complainers. But I think we are just looking for things to be done right rather than just accept what they supply.

I half joke with my wife that stock items from home depot would have gone simpler. But she wants fancier than a stock fiberglass shower enclosure, etc.
 

Last edited by babaganoosh; 05-24-16 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 05-24-16, 08:59 AM
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Turns out with the thickness of backsplash, faucet hole location and faucet and sink size, the drain lever isn't movable! So they are making a new counter, making the backsplash thinner and we are looking to go to smaller sinks.
I can't say if this is your case, but some customers get "too" involved in remodeling.
We get a lot of questions here asking why contractors refer customers to certain vendors. The questions mainly concern is the customer being overcharged.

I refer customers to vendors, or I provide the material (fixtures) so that these problems don't happen. It has nothing to do with profit.

A long story short, I don't like it when customers choose their own fixtures. Of course you need to choose the color and design, but not the manufacturer. At least take recommendations.
You also should be willing to spend a little more for what's proven to work.
 
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Old 05-25-16, 08:52 AM
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Handy - thanks. Yeah, that brings up another situation. Our friends that reccomended the contractor and us have this mutual friend in the plumbing supply business. Our friends got a drain long drain that supposedly ate up lots of the contractor's time getting it installed correctly. he wasn't familiar with it? the box was missing parts?

So he half jokingly offered a bath supply place he works with / knows them / can get problems with products resolved easier. We went there, picked all the items and figured he'd get a referral fee / they'd send him a check or similar for the business he's bringing in. The woman said 'ok, we'll send the quote to bob and he'll get it to you'.

Me being me, I like to cut out the middle man - if we wanted to change a part later, it's back and forth with Bob?!

And it took a couple weeks for us to get the prices from bob's wife. Not sure who was dragging their feet.

AND in the meantime, we're wondering - does he get a better than retail price and will sell to us at retail? Or mark it up or save us money... so while we're waiting for the pricing / waiting to get this moving, we get pricing from another local bath place. When we finally get bob's prices, a nipple from the other place at $30... he charged $90. For the faucets? His price was HALF what the other place and some spot checking on the web pricing was. I can understand an x% markup or similar but 50% less on some things, 200% more on others? His prices wound up being 10% more than the other place. But with such wild price variations, We wound up getting the exact items from the friend for less than the other local place... we didn't like the 2 week wait for pricing and if we added something else, I don't want to worry he marks it up 200% or win the lottery and he gives us a 50% discount.

The counter top issue is not involving the contractor (we didn't use his 'guy' for the countertop for the same fear of wild price variations). We are using the same sink and faucet that his supply house led us to. Just a comedy of errors with different companies involved.

Willing to spend for what's proven to work.... we're certainly spending $$ (roughly $44K). proven to work? This is all 'custom' so I don't know if there's proven things for custom. Wife likes this sink / that faucet / that vanity / that counter material... Me, I kept poking the wife saying we could have gotten stock home depot vanity and counter with preformed sinks... done. but she wanted higher quality overall...
 
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Old 05-25-16, 09:39 AM
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AND in the meantime, we're wondering - does he get a better than retail price and will sell to us at retail? Or mark it up or save us money..
Contractors generally get better than retail pricing. Most of us pass that savings along to the customer but personally, I rarely ever do a job with separate pricing for labor and materials. As a painting contractor I generally gave an all inclusive price .... if it took more material it came out of my pocket but if you wanted to make changes after the fact - I normally charged for that. Hard to say how your contractor handles material prices. As customer I'd expect to see copies of invoices to justify the material charges.
 
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Old 05-25-16, 09:44 AM
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As customer I'd expect to see copies of invoices to justify the material charges.

Really!? That leads to a web thread I was reading about IT consultants and clients asking for the invoice for the cost of the computer, etc. People there were against giving the client that info. One had a great analogy - do you go to the power company and ask to see coal / natural gas bills : )
 
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Old 05-25-16, 09:51 AM
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Maybe I'm just old school
 
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Old 05-26-16, 08:15 AM
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Those IT guys must be talking about fixed-price contracts. You give the customer a fixed-price to do the job and if it costs you more than you estimated you lose. You donít need to give the customer a breakdown of Time and Materials for a fixed-price contract.

But for more complicated projects you may not be very certain as to the exact cost. So you enter into a Time and Materials contract. If it takes you more time and/or more material than you estimated that gets passed on to the customer Ė sometimes up to a maximum point, but you have to provide the customer with a breakdown of Time and Materials.

I worked for large corporations that did a lot of work for the government, building systems for the Military, FAA, FEMA, etc. Many times the company loses its shirt on fixed-price contracts but in the long run makes a profit due to maintenance and spares for the system.

Unless someone gave me a fixed-price, not an estimate, I would want to see a breakdown of how they derived the final price in terms of time and material. Seems only fair Ė to me anyway.
 
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Old 05-26-16, 02:32 PM
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If I, as a contractor, need to get in my truck, drive down to the store, shop for a product, stand in line at the checkout, load the product into the truck and drive it back to the jobsite, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask for my time to be covered for the effort. You certainly do no work for free when you get to the office, why would you expect us to be an different. The small price adjustment that contractors receive helps to compensate for our time and allows us to offer the convenience of bringing those materials to the jobsite for you. Please don't nickle and dime your contractor on the price he charges for materials. It costs him way more of his time than the 5% discount he gets off retail price. Asking for receipts is a bit petty IMO.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 03:43 AM
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While I've done very few T&M jobs, I always added the time I spent picking up materials to the bill. If I had to take my equipment home to clean up - I added that time also. Not saying there is anything wrong with marking up the material's price but that was never how I did it.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 04:22 AM
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I didn't read every post and skimmed over much of it. But I think you are being a bit too critical. One quick story. My father-in-law helped out a friend who rebuilt homes that were destroyed by fire. As a perfectionist my father-in-law would make sure every nail was perfect until his friend saw him and said "For God's sake Bill, you're not building a cabinet, you're building a house. A few missed nails will not hurt a thing. Get the job done and make sure it's right and will not fall over." Most projects have many flaws that can't be seen, but do not affect the use or ability to perform. Sometimes we are are most worst enemy. If you saw how most items are built or made you would not be willing to use any of it. Same goes for doctors and health services. If you knew the details you would not be willing to let them touch you. But, you know what? We seem to survive and our items work pretty well. That's not to say you don't check for mistakes. Yesterday I was given the wrong medicine from a prescription. Good thong I checked before leaving the drug store. Could've been disastrous.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 05:28 AM
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I've always said that perfection is impossible to attain on a regular basis BUT you should always strive for the illusion of a perfect job. Any job can be nit picked apart but IMO as long as nothing jumps out at you - it's probably fine.

I painted a picky doctor's house once and he give the drywall finisher a fit! One of the 'big' defects in the drywall finish could only be seen if you put your head near the floor and looked up .... but only if the sun was coming in thru the window
 
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Old 05-27-16, 08:06 AM
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baba Ė

I have never used a contractor so I donít have your experience. However, I did remodel a bathroom in a condo I lived in but I procured the materials and did all the work myself. Reading your posts more carefully my gut reaction is that you are involving yourself much too much in the contractors business. I may be naÔve about this, but if you want to get involved at the level you are talking about I think you should have shopped for all the materials on your own and gathered them together before you hired a contractor.

Of course there is a limit to what you should buy on your own. Large items like light fixtures, tile, tub, toilet, vanity, faucets, cabinets, etc. you could provide. You can calculate the amount of tile needed, add for breakage, and buy that yourself. The smaller items like fittings, wiring, switches, wallboard, etc. would have to be left to the contractor.

You could then show the contractor your plan, your materials, and ask for a price to do the work. Maybe a contractor would not want the job if it just involved mostly labor, but I bet there would be some good contractors out there who would be willing to do the work. In other words, I donít think you would be stuck with a bunch of high-end items with no contractor to do the work. The contractor could first look at your plan and materials and flag any mistakes you have made, and you could then make adjustments before the work starts.

Anyway, thatís the way it seems to me.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 08:38 AM
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I usually charged extra for my labor if the customer supplied the paint. Invariably if the job required 13 gallons of paint - they'd only pick up 11-12 and then I'm stuck waiting on them to get more so I can finish. That is true of most contractors, if you have to wait on the customer before you can finish and go to the next job it irks you. If you short change yourself on materials you have no one to blame but yourself.
 
 

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