What work to expect in an hour from construction

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Muddytyres
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What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Muddytyres » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:19 pm

I posted this on FHB forums and no one is commenting so I'll ask my fellow attempted frugals: What should I expect from my construction crew?

My money pit is really turning into a money pit. My contractor charges by person per hour for their services. My neighbors stopped by my house a few times today and noticed that the workers were working like a state road crew, one guy laboring, four or five watching.

Should I expect them to work the entire time they are there? My GC is offsite most of the time. This is his crew’s second day at my house. My neighbor (who is retired from sales within the trade) suggested stopping by randomly and potentially putting video cameras to monitor work. Frankly, I could do that since I plan on following the work on the house on social media for my friends and family.

Thoughts? I don’t know what to think of this. I know that it’s hard work, but this project is extensive and 6 guys chilling for 15 minutes is… costly… after one day.

Thanks!

Jack FFR1846
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:26 pm

Never allow charge by the hour.

The guy who built my house acted as his own GC. He hired a framing crew and would come by in the early morning, then go to work. Stop by after 5. They seemed to be working their butts off. He then came by during the day. There's 800 feet of woods between the road and the house, so easy to sneak up and observe. He did that. The crew was sitting around, smoking and drinking beer. He watched for a couple hours. Explained why nothing was getting done.

You should only pay by the job. If the contractor wants to get ripped off, that's his problem, but it should not be passed on to you.
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Silk McCue
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Silk McCue » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:27 pm

Are you saying you signed a contract for hourly work as opposed to a quoted cost for the job? I certainly hope not.

Cheers

Topic Author
Muddytyres
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Muddytyres » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:52 pm

No real 'contract' was signed on this particular job, in this area- that is what is expected. The remodel jobs here often end up extensive due to the poor construction (I really didn't think this house was one of those- but too late now) and NO ONE will 'bid' jobs.

I am going to talk to him tomorrow. I have too much on the line here. I just wanted to make sure I was not being unreasonable by expecting them to work all the time that I'm being billed.

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joe8d
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by joe8d » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:57 pm

All These job sites have half the guys talking or texting on their cell phones :(
All the Best, | Joe

LawEgr1
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by LawEgr1 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:21 pm

I have managing contract experience on large domestic and international construction projects, from thousands to multi-million. I have also done my own work on my own house, and have utilized a contractor various times at our own house (not for multi million :) )

I have scoped out / assisted with design / come up with performance clauses / utilized all sorts of goofy contracts / signed all the contracts as acting Manager for facility expansions.

Given that I read you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and appear to have a baseline understanding of these situations, here are a few rants or bits of information.

Here are some suggestions:

1) You are on a t&m (time and material) contract (except, no contract....). Pretending there was a contract, however...what that would mean is that this puts all the RISK on you, with little risk for the contractor on both time and cost. This is OK in many situations. For example: a small job to tie-in some new outlets. There's nothing wrong with a t&m if it is MANAGED appropriately. Meaning, how adept is the manager / foreman for running the show? Inexperienced crew? (slow = time) Developed plan with experience crew? (more efficient = more $ saved) The Project Manager is an *&@#$ and get's on everyone (the buyer side)? (probably getting a better efficiency)

2) The other side of the coin is a fixed price / lump sum. This puts the RISK on the Seller (contractor). If they're smart, and they are, they'll charge you more overall by adding 'contingency', in the same form that we bogleheads add extra $$ for retirement for the 'what-ifs'. However, as long as there is a contract, as long as there is a scope of work with deliverables, however the contractor gets from start to finish is their choice and at their risk. You could come out ahead. Advantages here are just that - less managing on your end. The contractor has incentive to get work done at a better efficiency at risk of losing $$ due to the fixed price. You must have a strong change order process (note - most people don't for home projects)

There are, of course, a variety of contracts in between the two extremes that I have pointed out with varied degrees of risk for buyer and seller. Examples include fixed price incentive (performance contracts), fixed fee / cost plus fixed fee, etc. These would be overly complicated for whatever situation you are in.


- if they aren't working, they aren't getting paid. Document it, photo it, whatever...but they won't get paid if they aren't working. If they are present, they ARE WORKING, PERIOD.
- it's all about RISK and MANAGING the risk. BUT...
- without a contract, your both in trouble if you both decide to work and argue about it. The contract is there to protect BOTH parties, not just buyer or seller. Of course, the contracts can tilt one way or another, specifically with respect to changes and arbitration, but without a contract your both going to have an ugly mess to deal with
- I would remove from job ASAP and hire a contractor to bid the job appropriately and get a contract. Any reputable builder or contract will do this. If they don't, you're being taken to the cleaners.
- Always have the mindset that contractors are criminals. There are great contractors, but a lot of them are looking to make extra $. And why not? It's their living to do so; many are experts at it.
- I have seen many people give contractors benefit of doubt / not sign contracts / not read the contract. Be very, very careful. Most people don't understand how thick their skin must be when dealing with contractors, particularly those that don't perform well or are unethical. It's hard, but you need to protect yourself / business you are working for first and foremost.

End the relationship before you get burned more.

My 2 cents. Wish you the best.

-LE1

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Cubicle
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Cubicle » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:07 pm

Firstly, stop any future work by the contractors. If you don't have a contract, they can't force you to keep employing them.

I dealt with this when I just purchased & renovated my first home. Lots of issues. People not showing up, not doing work, not doing good work. When I was ranting to one of them, he admitted he has heard far more complaints than compliments all 25 years he has been doing this.

I was able to do some of the work myself, so between companies I did what I could. I went through 4 licensed crews in total. I got quotes on the entire project, but ended up paying per day for an 8-9 hour day. I would absolutely not pay per person per day. Too prone to abuse. I randomly stopped by all the time. It dramatically increased each crew's efficiency.

If you have time on your side, look for a 2-3 man crew & pay per day (not per person per day). That way if they decide to skip town, they owe you no work, you owe them no money. I even told them, if you leave tools in my house, I will put them in the front yard for you to pick up on your own time.

If you need speed, get a quote on the entire project, then pay in portions, 40% initial, 30% half way, 20% almost done, 10% after EVERYTHING is done. Any unexpected/unquoted costs to be paid separate & after that specific item is done (for example, I ended up tiling my shower, not included in the quote, separate $$$ & paid after it was fully completed but before everything else was done).

If you can hand pick the type of workers you need when you need them, (plumbing, electrical, paint, carpentry), then do that. You get more headaches, but more control & less chance to lose money. I'm a micro-manager so I kinda did this as well, pointing out what order I wanted things done in.

If you absolutely have no one who can bid the job, then you need a signed written contract, with days to completion & $$$ per day, not per person/hour. Explain to your contractor that if he can make money off of you, then he is welcome to do so. That way it will encourage him to put his people to work.

Are you in a location not conducive to getting other contractors? Are you in a "tight" situation with the house (living there during renovations, floating 2 mortgages, city deadlines)?

Luke Duke
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Luke Duke » Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:53 am

Muddytyres wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:19 pm
My contractor charges by person per hour for their services.
Congratulations on becoming a human ATM machine.

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lthenderson
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by lthenderson » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:00 am

If I were in your shoes and I hope I never am, I would set out my expectations for work to be completed that day and if it didn't get done, be prepared to tell them not to come back and find someone else, hopefully someone who will bid the project out.

criticalmass
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by criticalmass » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:05 am

Muddytyres wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:52 pm
No real 'contract' was signed on this particular job, in this area- that is what is expected. The remodel jobs here often end up extensive due to the poor construction (I really didn't think this house was one of those- but too late now) and NO ONE will 'bid' jobs.

I am going to talk to him tomorrow. I have too much on the line here. I just wanted to make sure I was not being unreasonable by expecting them to work all the time that I'm being billed.
Who is expecting no contact?

What type of work are you doing?

A contractor isn't a contractor without a contact.

Hopefully you have something in writing that describes scope of work, time tables, cost of materials, cost of labor if paying by hour, type of labor and skilled trades with price for each type, etc. Are there building permits needed? Usually these specify a job price.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:00 am

Something you could consider based on an upcoming roofing job I'm having done.

Set up time lapse cameras at several angles so you can capture exactly what is being done and when and for how long. My roofer does this as a standard practice. I'd never heard of it before but it's a great way to keep an eye on things without being there. Set them up and if the contractor has a problem with them and shuts them off, stipulate that any time the cameras are off, no time is being paid.
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piperkub
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by piperkub » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:12 am

I think the FHB forum is not responding because they're not sure what to say. Without a legal roadmap to protect you it can become a money pit for sure. Things like insurances, permits, damages, a path forward if he defaults, how to mitigate problems after complete, warranties, etc. He may be a fine contractor, but because he didn't present a contract tells me a lot about how he does business. I would present a contract ASAP as a condition to proceed. If he doesn't want to sign, then you haven't lost as much as you could. Hopefully, you'll won't need to use it as a hammer, but you'll be protected. Cheap insurance...

renue74
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by renue74 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:22 am

In my geo area, contracts are lax too on small jobs....but that doesn't mean you have to adhere to that.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:27 am

I cannot imagine hiring contractors without written paperwork, as well as obtaining a copy of their liability insurance, their workmen's comp insurance, and a copy of their license (or obtain it from the state). I also tell them to get a permit if required. When they say it isn't required, I tell them to send that to me in writing, which I will hand to a building inspector if ever questioned.
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miamivice
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Re: What work to expect in an hour from construction

Post by miamivice » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:30 am

Muddytyres wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:19 pm
I posted this on FHB forums and no one is commenting so I'll ask my fellow attempted frugals: What should I expect from my construction crew?

My money pit is really turning into a money pit. My contractor charges by person per hour for their services. My neighbors stopped by my house a few times today and noticed that the workers were working like a state road crew, one guy laboring, four or five watching.

Should I expect them to work the entire time they are there? My GC is offsite most of the time. This is his crew’s second day at my house. My neighbor (who is retired from sales within the trade) suggested stopping by randomly and potentially putting video cameras to monitor work. Frankly, I could do that since I plan on following the work on the house on social media for my friends and family.

Thoughts? I don’t know what to think of this. I know that it’s hard work, but this project is extensive and 6 guys chilling for 15 minutes is… costly… after one day.

Thanks!
I have hired a few folks by the hour.

1) Handyman to do a window repair in my house. Due to size of window, foreman decided it needed three people to remove and replace. (It did). All three worked hard from the moment the clock started until the moment the clock stopped. They never stopped moving. After the 3 person work was done, 1 person was the clean up / assistant role, which was less time consuming but still the worker stayed focused and worked hard.

2) Hired a tree planter to plant trees on my timberland. Back breaking work. Worker never stopped except for occasional water breaks. Planted trees the whole time. Amazing.

Then I have hired myself because I am cheap.

3) Worker (me) takes numerous breaks, whines incessantly during the job, checks cell phone, but does excellent quality work for a good price.

I guess you get what you pay for.

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