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Communicating With Contractors

RooferI recently worked with an out-of-state seller to prepare her property she had used as a rental for sale. As part of my Specialized Services For Investors I made a list of suggested updates and repairs. I then gathered estimates from two General Contractors and also priced individually with a handyman, plumber, electrician, etc. I even priced trash removal and the labor to remove a rotted deck, a broken down shed, and large entertainment center.

If I can get things done for free, that’s even better. I had a hard time finding a nonprofit organization who would be willing to pick up that entertainment center–even as a free donation–because it was HEAVY and HUGE. Finally, I listed it for free on Facebook and some folks were very happy to come and get it!

There was also a HUGE free standing satellite dish that needed to be removed. I found a man who recycles metal who took that thing down and also hauled off some other metal stuff FOR FREE.

CalculatorIn doing this sort of work, I’ve found that good communication with contractors and their subcontractors is the main key to success. I create a spreadsheet and ballpark what I think the whole job may cost. This is very helpful to then compare with the estimates that come in. I prefer when General Contractors provide individual line item pricing. That way, if you need to prioritize repairs or remove some items, you have the numbers to work with.

In communicating between the seller and all these professionals it’s important to be very specific. That spreadsheet eventually becomes a contractor’s work order. That piece of paper then goes to the actual workers or laborers for them to complete the listed tasks. Sometimes things TALKED about with a contractor don’t make the list and need to be added later. Sometimes, as work begins, new issues are found and added to the task list.

That brings me to one of the biggest things I look for in a good contractor: how professionally do they communicate? It is pretty rare that the total job doesn’t expand at least a little bit, adding a few things as the work comes along. That’s ok. A professional General Contractor simply writes up a change order, discloses how much it will cost, and the new overall job cost. This is shared with me and I share it with the owner for approval. There should be no surprises.

ClockAnother big thing I look for in a good contractor is meeting or beating expected deadlines. I always ask how long they think the job will take, taking into account any other jobs they may be working on. Missing a deadline by a few days is no big deal. Finishing early is even better!

Every General Contractor does things a bit differently. One thing that is pretty usual is for the contractor to ask for a partial payment up front, perhaps another payment after a significant portion of the work has been completed, and then the balance upon completion. Contractors who can begin work and not even ask for up front payments obviously have enough working capital to cover the cost of supplies. This impresses me greatly!

Finding General Contractors, plumbers, electricians, A/C professionals, etc. who you TRUST and have had a good working experience with is worth GOLD! I network with these sorts of people all the time and have created a list of just such recommended professionals. If I may be of assistance on your next fixer upper or flip, call me at 407-236-6559!