Bath reno: contractor responsibilities?

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Old 06-05-17, 03:42 AM
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Bath reno: contractor responsibilities?

Not sure this is the correct thread, but maybe some readers will have some insights. (Moderators: if this should be moved to another thread, just let me know.)

I'm currently in the process of finding a plumber/contractor for a medium-sized bath reno (my first time hiring people for a job of this type). The complicated part is that it is for a property I own in another state, so it's necessary to coordinate travel, my job, delivery of supplies, etc.

I found a local tradesman whom I thought would be good for the job (great references, a high but fair price, etc.), and he is aware of the fact that I need to fly in at specific times to oversee work. Trouble is, now that we are getting close to finalizing things, he is being somewhat evasive about timing: when I try to have him agree to specific dates ("I'll be flying in on Tuesday, so need the work to take place on Wednesday and Thursday"), I get responses such as "I think it shouldn't be a problem to start some time next week" or "if something happens and you have to leave, just leave a key with your neighbor" or "I can get started in the next few days."

In my limited experience with tradespeople, I have found that - unfortunately - many of them do indeed keep you hanging, arrive late, etc. But my question is: if I am writing up a contract with this person - who is charging top dollar - do I have the right to ask that he commit, as part of the contract, to specific days? Or is this just unreasonable? If it is unreasonable, please feel free to tell me - because honestly, I don't know.

Thanks in advance for any input.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 03:55 AM
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Things happen, so being late or evasive on specific times is not an unusual problem. Your job won't be his only job. However, you can write into a contract provisions to allow for such things. I can't think of the term that is used, but being late would reduce his price by a certain percentage. You need to be very specific. Will weather be a factor? Will travel time be a factor? will supplies that you provide be a factor? What happens if you are late for an appointment? What about unforeseen conditions when the actual demo takes place? What about issuing of permits and the like? How about vendors having new product available when you're ready for them? How about items that you thought would work but must be changed due to to other problems? Have you put an amount of money in escrow? Final inspection before final payment is made? All this can be written into a contract. But both parties must be agreeable and you may have to give concessions to get him to agree to many of the above mentioned items.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 04:16 AM
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As Norm stated, contractors have other jobs also and good contractors generally have a full schedule. It can be written into the contract that the job will be done on certain days but you can also expect to pay a premium for that. Have you checked that contractor's references?
 
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Old 06-05-17, 10:13 AM
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Thanks for the responses.

I understand what you are (both) saying - the tradesperson will have other jobs, things might come up on these other jobs, and that might impact upon any schedule he has with me.

But perhaps I should note (if it makes any difference) that this is a relatively small job, but one I can't do myself. It's a brand new building, all the tiling (and floor grading) have been done, the toilet is installed, and all the plumbing and electrical is in place (to my specs; I did the bathroom layout). All he needs to do is a) install the sink, floating cabinet, and faucet, and b) install the shower hardware. The hardware and cabinetry are all there, waiting. There's really nothing to buy.

If he can get these things installed, then I can live there while the rest of the work takes place (kitchen installation, flooring, painting, ext.). But without a sink and shower, it's not possible. If, for example, we agree to start on Wednesday, I fly in on Tuesday (and stay overnight at a hotel), and suddenly he needs to push the work ahead a few days - or even a week - I'm stuck in a hotel paying over $150/night. And these things add up quickly.

But it sounds like you're saying that this is a real possibility, and I might just have to accept it. And I guess that's what I was asking - is there any way around this, is it okay to require a specific schedule, or should I realistically just prepare for the possibility that I'm going to be out a few more hundred bucks?

Thanks again.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 10:16 AM
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Talk to your contractor and let him know your situation. Most are willing to go the extra mile and accommodate the customer. If you have ongoing communications it's less likely there will be any surprises.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 10:22 AM
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You don't need a contractor just for those jobs. Probably one reason he's giving you the run-a-round. Might be too small a job. I'd call a local plumber or a handyman. If you could get hold of a neighborhood phone book, that's the best place to look.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 10:27 AM
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I guess it depends on the definition of contractor
Many handymen could handle that job .... just be sure to check references first!
Not all plumbers are willing to install cabinets.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 10:30 AM
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Yeah, I guess I think of a contractor as one who oversees everything that can be done in a house. However, I guess a plumber is also a plumbing contractor!
 
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Old 06-05-17, 12:20 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the responses.

I am using the term "contractor" loosely - I don't think he's a "handyman," but he's an experienced tradesperson who does all sorts of renovation work (judging from his online profile).

I have asked him to specify a date; he won't. And for me, for a small job like this, this is a red flag. I'm just about to tell him "thanks, but no thanks."

The problem has been that it's difficult trying to find someone across two time zones - and at this point, I'm thinking I might just roll the dice, fly in, and try to find someone when I'm in the actual area. I may have to leave and fly back, but it seems it might be easier to find someone if I can meet them, let them in the property, let them see the work, etc.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 12:24 PM
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Since he can't or won't specify a date, it sounds like you need to see if you can get someone else who will. As Shadie said, it's not that big of a job and he [or someone] should be able to work it in at a time that will work for you.

If you change your mind and want to diy - we can walk you thru it.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 01:59 PM
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It sounds to me like it's too late to make any recommendations on a contractor type, this guy has already let you down. He started the job so he should finish it.

I only do it once in awhile, but I work on homes with no supervision, I sub for a national company. The arrangement is usually a lock box and we can enter the home anytime, get the work done, and the only inspection will be final (you don't pay if you are not happy).

I'm not being rude I hope, but if this guy makes you happy, make his job easier. Tell him it needs to be done by a certain date (done perfectly) and then look over everything at completion and your convenience.

If you need a finish plumber right away, I would call a kitchen and bath company and check their references before hiring. You can also check with the BBB. That could be substantial extra cost though.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 02:22 PM
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To marksr:

Thanks for offering to talk me through the DIY! In a perfect world, I would indeed love to do this work myself - but I just don't have the tools or the know-how. I would love to find someone to teach me, on-site, because I enjoy DIY work (I've done tiling, mudding/taping, and some verrrrry basic plumbing) - but hanging this floating sink cabinet, and the complicated shower hardware are beyond my skill set.

To Handyone:

You were not rude at all, and I appreciate the input. One thing: this guy has not started the work - he's only given me an estimate, and now we're stuck on the date thing.

Another thing that struck me as odd: he said he would purchase the shower hardware, but I said I wanted a picture of the actual model before he bought it (because appearance is important) - and I also wanted to know the cost before purchase. He sent me a couple of images via email, and when I asked if this were the actual set he wanted to purchase and, if so, if he could send me the make/model/price, he replied that he didn't have that information/didn't know how much it would cost. Really?
 
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Old 06-05-17, 02:39 PM
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Someone mentioned to call a bath and tile store who also do installation. I agree. One within the neighborhood would be a better bet. Make the deciding factor a drop dead finish date AFTER you both agree on material and cost of parts. Make it clear that payment won't be made unless date can be maintained. BUT, give him plenty of time to get the fixtures, and set up his time slots. Be prepared to put down about 1/3 down payment. Something tells me you may be a bit too particular about when this date must be met. Is the date you need already set in stone?
 
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Old 06-05-17, 02:48 PM
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However, I guess a plumber is also a plumbing contractor!
Many plumbers can install or fix anything in a bathroom, that might be a good start.
I'm experienced, but have a pro plumber on call when things go wrong or I want another look.

I agree the contractor should have good knowledge of hardware cost, it can vary greatly.
He might not know the model number but should inform you: "Moen/Delta (for example) stainless steel with lifetime warranty" or something and show you the exact pictures.

Some contractors will not tell you the actual cost of certain materials and I think that's OK in some cases.
 
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Old 06-05-17, 02:50 PM
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To Norm 201:

I've actually given him a time frame between June 07 and June 26, and said I can be there any of those days - and would work around his schedule. Is that too tight?
 
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Old 06-05-17, 02:55 PM
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No not all. Find a new guy.
 
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Old 06-08-17, 03:44 PM
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UPDATE:

Don't know if anyone will still read this thread, but if so...

...I told the tradesman "thanks, but I've chosen someone else." And - - he's now angry, because he said he put in a "lot of time" preparing for the job.

He gave me an estimate. Period. I sent him photos and blueprints (including electrical/plumbing layouts - for this small job), but he insisted on going in person to see the place. I told him I would purchase all the fittings, but he insisted on finding them for me (at a higher price, I might add). He sent me a detailed estimate, we had a couple of 5-10 minute conversations on the phone - and that's it.

Do I owe him something? Please feel free to be totally honest. I don't want to cheat anyone - but I though part of the game was giving an estimate.
 
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Old 06-08-17, 05:05 PM
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Do I owe him something?
No way. Did he tell you (at the start) there would be a consultation or estimate fee?
If he wanted the job so bad he should have given you a time frame instead of a runaround. How much time could it have taken for that to figure an estimate for those few things? I would run from that guy!
 
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Old 06-09-17, 02:50 AM
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I've never charged for giving a paint estimate and I've not gotten every job I've bid on. While some bids are more complex than others, yours isn't. You don't owe him anything and should count your blessing that you found out what type of guy he is before you spent any money!
 
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Old 06-09-17, 03:27 AM
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I always like to look for a clue regarding "free estimates" !

As a Real Estate Broker, I once obtained an estimate for some basement concrete work to make a property marketable under a Buyers Mortgage.

One Contractor (a Friend of the Buyer) who prepared a non-winning bid billed me for the estimate, and when I refused to pay for the estimate, he threatened to kill me.

I documented that episode, and it's been several years now, but just in case I am killed, they'll know where to look.

Some people take this estimate business very serious, and expect to be compensated for ever breath they take, so I ask in advance. I don't want to wind up dead over some trivial matter like this.
 
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Old 06-09-17, 03:36 AM
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Many thanks to everyone for all of these responses. All of this input has been really, really helpful.

I was worried that maybe my questions were too clueless even to post - but glad I did post them. Thanks again for weighing it - I think this advice has helped me avoid making a potentially big mistake.

Have a good weekend, all!
 
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Old 06-18-17, 08:50 AM
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UPDATE:

I don't know if anyone will read this, or if it's useful information to anyone - but just in case it might help someone else, here's what wound up happening.

I went to the showroom where I bought the sink/cabinet, and they gave me referrals to some of their installation people. I got in touch with one, and they sent someone over in two days to install the sink/cabinet/faucet/drain, as well as the medicine cabinet with built-in lighting for only about $250.00 - and they gave a 5-year guarantee! It only took about 2, 2.5 hours max.

I hadn't bought the shower hardware from them, but when the guy came to install everything else, I asked if he could also do the shower - and he did it for only an additional $45.00 (and it took just a bit over an hour). I've bought the walk-in shower glass online as well, and will contact these same people to install it this week.

So all totaled, including *everything* (including the actual sink, shower, glass, etc. as well as delivery and installation) - it will wind up costing me about $1800.00, and will probably have taken a total of 5-6 hours for everything. Using this other guy, the total job was going to cost approximately $3300.00, and he said he might need to hire a helper, and that it could take 2-2.5 days.

Wow. I feel like I dodged a $1500.00 bullet. Very glad he hemmed and hawed about the date!

Thanks again for all the input.
 
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Old 06-18-17, 09:17 AM
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Thanks for the update and glad things worked out well for you! That other guy must have been some piece of work!
 
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