Wednesday, August 31, 2005

This Old Contractor Work: Austin

When we started this process I really thought we'd be almost done by now. Well, we are almost done -- done choosing a contractor, that is. It's taken weeks to get all the bids back, and frankly, I am wondering if it was worth the trouble. Nothing has changed at the house, unless you count the toilet flapper I replaced myself.

It's true that we had to have a builder-type person to handle to garage conversion. And at the time it seemed to make sense to get one person to handle the details of tilers, painters, carpenters, etc. But you do pay a premium for that, not to mention time while they do their estimating. And the money estimates they sent back have really given me some sticker shock.

As I've wandered about here and there asking for people to give me estimates on different line items, I've found that they tend to be lower than what I've been quoted. Sometimes quite a bit, and while I know that in some cases it’s the contractor estimating their cut for choosing and making arrangements, and in others its got be a certain fudge factor. But how much is fudge and how much is cut? I don't object to folks getting something for taking care of arrangements, but since in many cases this has to be along the lines of "Hey Joe, I need you to lay some tile for me this month" I do object to its being a fixed % of the cost of that item, rather than a flat fee, though the % thing seems to be the way its done.

Part of what you pay for is someone else dealing with the headaches of people running late, etc., but I have to drive by that house every day anyway, and from what I hear about home building, you really need to be there all the time anyway. I told Trish last night I was about that close to just grabbing people from the phone book and turning them loose individually. Probably not wise, but at least something would be happening.

Addendum: While writing this I finally got the last estimate, which has put me in a better mood by being lower than I had expected it to be. I still need to see its details, but I'm happier for the moment.

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