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Old 09-11-2008, 02:41 PM
 
8 posts, read 24,735 times
Reputation: 13

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Hi,

My wife and I just buy a house in San Diego
, and we are first time home owner, so we know little about home improvement, such as flooring -- hardwood floor and ceramic tile. Can anybody recommend some good contractors?

BTW: Can we save money by buying materials and hiring professionals both from HomeDepot?
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
12,054 posts, read 21,737,499 times
Reputation: 31852
Lowes and Home Depot have a good selection of products and both have contractors that will install. We have only used Lowes but were very pleased with the work. Don't sign off on any job unless it is completed to your satisfaction. If you have met your neighbors (and this could be a good way to meet them), ask who they use. Always ask for references and check them before signing a contract. If possible, you might be able to view the work that was done.
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,431 posts, read 47,178,848 times
Reputation: 10512
NO NO NO !!!!

Here is how it works. Lowes and Home Depot does not have staff that are contractors. They have a few approved preferred contractors who are just joe blow small business people who were lucky enough to be approved for a specific area of construction by them.

Lets say you want a new door put in and go to the big box store. They will send joe blow contractor to look at it or HD or Lowes already has a set price for specific things. Whatever joe blow wants, Lowes and HD doubles it and that is what they charge you. So if you called joe blow to install your door he might charge $250, HD and Lowes doubles that and charges you the customer $500. Do you see any deals here?

The only plus to using the big box stores is if something goes wrong they are always there for you. The little joe blow might not. Getting HD, Lowes or joe blow back to fix a problem is quite a problem.

If you buy the product yourself and call contractors it is very likely no one will want the job. Many but not all contractors want to make money on the materials too. HD and Lowes marks up everything in their stores to sky high retail MSRP prices. Bargain? Nothing in those stores are a bargain. Nothing. If you all knew what the mark up was........................

You can call contractors to ask if they will work on a "cost plus" job. Meaning the contractor will give you a set labor price barring no hidden problems and thats that. You are responsible for the materials.

If you are very very wealthy then by all means call HD or Lowes. But I dont think thats the case.

Good luck in your home improvement projects...
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:14 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
1,214 posts, read 4,653,961 times
Reputation: 681
Ditto on Lowes and HD.

My inlaws had carpet installed for $1200 and they had to pay for the carpet as well, (or maybe it was extra for the install) at any rate the carpet contractor installed carpet and let my MIL know that he could do the exact same job for anyone she knew for $350. She was livid. Same contractor doing the same quality job, different price.
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Old 09-12-2008, 09:55 AM
 
3,020 posts, read 24,767,282 times
Reputation: 2785
Default Yeah the Desertsun has it sort of right

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertsun41 View Post
NO NO NO !!!!

Here is how it works. Lowes and Home Depot does not have staff that are contractors. They have a few approved preferred contractors who are just joe blow small business people who were lucky enough to be approved for a specific area of construction by them.

Lets say you want a new door put in and go to the big box store. They will send joe blow contractor to look at it or HD or Lowes already has a set price for specific things. Whatever joe blow wants, Lowes and HD doubles it and that is what they charge you. So if you called joe blow to install your door he might charge $250, HD and Lowes doubles that and charges you the customer $500. Do you see any deals here?

The only plus to using the big box stores is if something goes wrong they are always there for you. The little joe blow might not. Getting HD, Lowes or joe blow back to fix a problem is quite a problem.

If you buy the product yourself and call contractors it is very likely no one will want the job. Many but not all contractors want to make money on the materials too. HD and Lowes marks up everything in their stores to sky high retail MSRP prices. Bargain? Nothing in those stores are a bargain. Nothing. If you all knew what the mark up was........................

You can call contractors to ask if they will work on a "cost plus" job. Meaning the contractor will give you a set labor price barring no hidden problems and thats that. You are responsible for the materials.

If you are very very wealthy then by all means call HD or Lowes. But I dont think thats the case.

Good luck in your home improvement projects...
You have two problems using them big box stores. First the quality is suspect. They stock the cheapest junk they can get their hands on, second they act only in their own interest, first last and always. Value is an accident.

The big box store looks to win at every angle. You are paying retail, the contractor is basically becoming a hired slave at less than the going wage. They get locked into a system where it must go in very quickly, the details be damned, it is going in or get a bigger hammer. Basic old rip and strip, she must be the "Standard" installation or it goes sour quick. A problem child is probably going to come out of the contractor's hide. Again the big box store avoids life's lil pitfalls.

Look at it from the contractors point of view. Life is always trade offs. One problem they always have is how to get guaranteed work with out chasing all over town and quoting a zillion jobs to get one real one, so being in bed with a big box store has the advantage of greatly cutting the admin time to get work. More like a pact with the Devil.

The down side for the contractor is they might have no control over the amount of land area or distance to the job, they get stuck trying to service the general public with all the freaks, geeks and bad customers that lurk in the shadows. Some peeps you cannot please. You don't want every job you may look at. I sure would not wanted to install my present front door, the big basement door or any door in a house like mine for the going rate. Some jobs can be a challenge, pack a lunch. That big box system, the contractor probably put eyeballs on it for the first time, the day he is going to install it. Can you say surprise in a good percentage of the time.

Most good general contractors want to buy quality stuff as direct from the factory as possible, get the wholesale price. Example a decent pedestrian grade door might cost $160 his cost, going rate might be $500 installed. Lots of ways to play it, he can cut the costs as necessary depending on customer, difficulity of installation, distance / time involved, need for work, not all jobs are equal. When I was doing it a "Standard Job" probably went for ~$300 for a good quality door with a guarantee, if the installation was no problem. Cost would go up depending factors beyond my control, had to get a fair wage for the job. With that type system, you get to pick and choose customers, avoid horror houses, get a fair wage for the effort. The big box system sticks the customer and contractor for all non standard situations. Its possible for the contractor to get stuck, not enough flexibility to deal with what happens in the real World.

If you need a contractor try to get one as close to you possible. Check local pizza, stores, churches, etc for business cards. This bunk that there are tons of bad contractors is fiction, they don't last very long, they tend to become lawyer fodder. Understand what they must have to do a inexpensive job and still make a fair day's pay. It will vary depending on your area. Even in big cities, a good contractor tries to work as small a land area as possible, especially with high fuel prices. Boston had somehing like 16 neighborhoods, I tried to make a living by basically only serving four neighborhoods, worked most years. In some areas like where I live now, you probably will not find any legit contractors. Very, very tough to make a living, some folks have tried it, none survive very long, no real good suppliers close enough, too much distance between jobs.

The more you know and understand your own particular situation. the better / cheaper the job can be. I did over the present house completely. Only used two contractors, heating and carpet. Both I controlled what happened, got the best possible price. I was the heating dudes helper, did all the demo, grunt and prep work, he was in / out quick did only the basic work. Carpet guy, I bought all the carpet from the store, trimmed just right, in the house really to go, all prep work done, got a dude who is a relative of a friend in the installation business for a big company, he and a buddy do it on weekend for extra cash. Three rooms installed for like $650. You can work out good deals if you understand how contractors work and what they need to make a decent day's pay. Remove the hassles they have to deal with, price can be pretty low.

One big common error is to communicate wrong with the contractor. If they get the idea you are getting a zillion quotes and they can be chasing a dead horse, lots of luck. You want to tell them this is a real job, you are the only one in the running, lets work out the details. Asking all the wrong questions is a huge no-no. Too many folks never have any intention of giving out a real job, they try to go to school on the contractor and get a quick course how they might actually do it themselves. If you want the best price, get the contractor into the best situation that he uses the least manhours on the job, things like demo, prep, set up, running parts, final clean up, etc. The more you understand what is required, the easier you make it, the more you make a decent profit possible in the time spent, the lower the price in a fair deal.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,431 posts, read 47,178,848 times
Reputation: 10512
Whataya mean sort of right Cosmo. I agree with everything you just said. Probably because you are right. I think you just said it better then I did.

The part about telling the contractor you are not a tire kicker and to work out the details works great if you like the contractor. Everyone here should know this. If a contractor thinks you are a tire kicker gathering 25 estimates then he will either never contact you after he leaves or he may just give you an off the wall verbal sky high price that requires no thinking.
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