When it all comes down to price . . . take consideration.
When a residential remodel or new construction project reaches an advanced level of complexity or dollar value, we believe price becomes less of a swaying factor, while tangibles such as timeline, quality, precision and professionalism become of equal or higher importance.
With all respect to the large big-box home supply stores, which make life easier for the do-it-yourselfer, handyman, or small general contractors, once a notable level of sophistication is reached, materials are routinely sourced from distributors who specialize in windows and doors, plumbing and electrical fixtures, roofing and lumber materials, tile dealers, steel fabricators, etc. These distributors offer a wide variety of solutions and materials not found at the big-box.
The margins on these materials are relatively stable and somewhat controlled by the manufacturers. Sure, one dealer may offer a slightly better discount, but not nearly enough to cover expenses associated with delays or poor attention to details. In addition to materials costs, there’s labor, and most craftsmen know the going rate in their area. Sure someone, in the parking lot of a big-box retailer is going to be less expensive, but the experience, quality and craftsmanship isn’t likely to be there, not to mention licensing, worker’s compensation, insurance, etc., which if not present can be problematic if problems arise.
So what’s left when materials costs and journeyman labor are relatively consistent?
Schedule and Timeline
Is the general contractor running with his or her choke out? Are they bouncing between several jobs trying to stay above water? Have they outlined their construction schedule with clearly defined draw schedule? Have they provided a material order and deliver schedule? Is there a superintendent on the job each and every day?
We remember a project where a general contractor was remodeling a 250 square foot bathroom across the street from a whole-house remodel we were undertaking. He was there for over 10 months, our company was in and out within 5 months. One day the homeowner came over to our job, she was sobbing about the time her project was taking, and asked me why ours was moving so quickly. We mentioned that we plan and schedule in explicit detail.
Simply put, does your general contractor follow the Master Builder Tradition of, “Build it once, build it right, and make it last a lifetime?” There’s no substitute for quality. Ask to see a job under construction. Is the jobsite it a mess with trash and debris all around? If so, turn around and run. That’s an insight into care, attention to detail, safety and pride.
A cleaned and organized jobsite, tells all parties that this is something special, “We expect your best.”
Precision and Professionalism
Does your contractor have lasers? Do they utilize the most modern tools and technologies? Look to see if the superintendent has access to the internet at the job, you can’t imagine how useful that can be to the super.
How do they care for their tools and equipment? Are they up to date on new materials and techniques? A journeyman who treats his tools well, is proud or his talents and it will show in your home.
All things considered, materials and labor are going to be fairly consistent. It’s the scheduling, quality, precision and professionalism of the general contractor that always yields superior best results, which last a lifetime.