Need advice on our building "liaisons"

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by heather, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. heather

    heather Well-Known Member

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    Many of you know we are building our house this summer -

    We are the general contractors but we hired 2 men who own their own consulting company to be our "liaisons"

    What that entails is getting us quotes, scheduling all subs, making sure work is done timely & efficiently, overseeing work, etc....

    In the process of them getting quotes, we were blown away by some of the charges coming in & I decided to do a little quote digging on our own

    I have since found better prices on trenching, excavating, electric, HVAC, roofing, etc...and hope to find one on plumbing

    We have also discovered that we have been lied to.....for instance, we had a friend of a friend that was recommended to us to do excavating......we wanted our liaison to call him, arrange to get him the prints & get a quote.....he said he called & left msgs "numerous times" and never heard back.....Well, we heard through the grapevine that the excavator has been wondering why no one ever got in touch him about the job......so, I called him & he said our "liaison" never called him - not once.....hmmmmmmmm.......he explained that often these guys get kickbacks when they get someone a job.

    The other issue is that 1 liaison is the plumber & the other liaison is the electrician -
    I will say right now that the electrician gave us a quote of $17,700 & I got another quote, made sure we were comparing apples to apples & this guy turned almost white & said he could do the job for not more than $7000.
    So, now I really want to get another plumbing quote too!

    Now I'm really ticked

    We signed a contract with the liaisons & paid them up front

    So, is this just a lesson learned & we let them go & keep going on alone
    OR ????
    do we try explaining that hey, we're ticked, what's up? & keep them on?
    OR ????
    sue them to get our $$ back??
    OR ????

    We're not quite sure what our next step should be -

    Any advice will be WONDERFUL
    THANKS in advance
     
  2. Grizz

    Grizz Well-Known Member

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    Iv built al types of building and done lots of exavating!
    Talk to ALL the contractors u can!!Then ask for a list of who they did work for and CHECK them out!!
    There are good and bad out there feel free to pm if ud like!
     

  3. kppop

    kppop Well-Known Member

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    The other issue is that 1 liaison is the plumber & the other liaison is the electrician -
    I will say right now that the electrician gave us a quote of $17,700 & I got another quote, made sure we were comparing apples to apples & this guy turned almost white & said he could do the job for not more than $7000.
    So, now I really want to get another plumbing quote too!
    *********

    You aren't paying the electrician to do the work are you? If you are I will bet the farm that he's hosing you on supplies...tell him you want all invoices from all the supply houses he buys from. If he refuses...fire him. We are building a 4000sf home and the electrical..top of the line..is roughly 15K.
     
  4. kmaproperties

    kmaproperties Well-Known Member

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    I'm a builder in ohio. FIRE the bumbs and get a lawyer and nail em to the wall. they are taking you for a ride. 6-7000 for electric on a 2500 square foot house. 3.5 bath with jet tub and oversized shower in master 10500.
    you already started doing the liasons jobs so you do not need them. they are crooked and need to be taught a lesson. good luck arnie
     
  5. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In reality you hired those 2 guys to be the general contractors! That's what general contractors do - get quotes, schedule the work, and supervise. I would pay a visit to your local district attorney with your general contractor quotes and the quotes you got for they exact same work. You MAY have legal recourse.
     
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Wow, somebody should have told you up front beware of plumbers or electricians posing as consultants. You are really asking for trouble in most cases. Actually you have to beware of them as just workers too. They love short hours and high pay for work that may or may not be suitable.

    I never met a plumber who was worth a damn just to do the plumbing. All seemed to always have issues about something and did substandard work. A couple spent most of the time debating what they could steal from the jobsite without getting caught. On most of the remodel jobs I did, always tried to do the plumbing ourselves because it was usually not that big a deal. Same for electricians, you can find some good ones but really have to sort them out. Most from my experience were about like the plumbers. Those two trades are the Prima Donna's of the building business. Most will make horrible GC's if they tried it themselves. How could they tell someone else to do it? About like having foxes stationed inside a hen house. Overcharging is what they normally do as a standard business practice. Glad I don't have to have any of them involved in anything I want to do now.

    Never get specialized folks to do general work. You are really lucky you didn't select some of those HVAC guys for your "liaison". You really wanted somebody experienced as a GC to look over your shoulder. Was probably going to go wrong from day one.

    Yup, get a lawyer and demand your money back.
     
  7. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Knowing a few plumbers and electricians personally I can fully agree on that.

    The ones I know are very good at what they do but man are they a pain to deal with.
     
  8. Lerxt

    Lerxt Well-Known Member

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    Having been in one of those 2 trades and working for a plumber acting as a GC I can say you hit the nail on the head. :)
     
  9. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    hey i have been running pipe for 30 plus years and there are fair ones out therei have never snowed anyone always have been fair and honest even went as far to put old people gas back on by cutting locks of when the weather was getting cold so they can have the heat with no charge being fair i had all the work i can handle

    jim
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Something went wrong here. How are they charging you for being the general contractor - that is what they are posing as?

    My guess is having their buddies overcharge you for any work done on your house.

    Either you need to be GC, or you need a real GC. This deal is not right from day one. you got took. Not sure what to do about the past, what's done is done & you are responsible for it in part. From here on out I would do things differently, but that likely means delays as you find your own real electrician, plumber, & so on. Kind of a tough spot, more money or more time no matter what you do now. I think shopping for a real GC would have been money well saved in your case.

    --->Paul
     
  11. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    this case is differant but you dont allways go with the cheaper bid nyou allso go on past reputation sometimes cheap means just that you started saying you were to be the gc you should have stayed that way anyone can make phone calls
     
  12. heather

    heather Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for your comments -

    Yes, Paul - we are definitely responsible for this in part - we acknowledge that

    And, yes, Jim - we know there are certainly honest plumbers out there & you must be one :angel:
    And I do understand not to go with a certain quote just because it's cheaper - that's a good point - the other quotes I've gotten are all from people who've been recommended by someone we know -
    Our quote from him is $13,200.
    Our house is 1680 sq ft with full basement
    3 baths but nothing fancy - nothing fancy at all

    Now, in all fairness, we are building a Deltec - it's round & not many people have worked on them - so maybe these guys are upping their charges just because they're doing something "new & different"
    However, the other guys we've talked to just say "you do it the same - it's just a round house"

    Anyway, this should be interesting -
    We slept on all of our (and your) ideas last night - or rather, I should say, I didn't sleep!!
    Basically, we're thinking of sitting down with them & saying "Look, this is how we see things at this point.....how do you see things?" And then see what transpires -
    If they say one wrong word, they'll know they've tangoed with the wrong lady - I'm not in the mood for anymore lies -
    THANKS for all your help guys - I really appreciate it!
     
  13. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Your quote differences shouldn't be that high on new work. Everybody who is competitive should be in the same ballpark. Things like driving distance / amount of work they already have booked / who they are using for a supplier / size of operation and how "Legal they are", insurance, etc will generally explain most differences.

    You expect larger differences in remodel work, new work is pretty cut and dried to estimate. They all should get the same take off amounts of materials almost too the last fitting. In order to get consistent work their labor and profits have to be in the same range as everyone else. Be interesting to hear the bogus excuses for wildly out of range quotes. The better ones will always be trying to be more productive and make "Extra" money that way. In the bigger cities and boom areas, they have been doing it by cutthroat hiring of illegal imported labor and ever falling wage rates. Has its pluses and minuses.

    It is not just the costs, the other place subcontractors vary are in performance. Things like trying to work too many jobs at once and not doing very well on any of them. Not finishing or failing to support the schedule. Most have little appreciation of the job as a total picture. Lot of them plain don't care, they focus on only their small World viewpoint and want ideal situations for their end of the job.

    Exactly why you want someone experienced as a working GC in your particular area. They will have the overview type outlook, tend to be very orientated to the things it takes to get a job done on time and budget. Plus they will have seen the performance and cost structure of many of the people bidding on the job a number of times before. Probably heard all the stories and excuses from them one to many times too. Tends to be a balancing game to get everybody somewhat happy.

    GC is really about management and paperwork and being able to ride herd and get things done by the right people in the right sequence in a timely manner. Know a little about a lot of things. Just not what most plumbers and electricans do well. Kind of like getting the right tool for the job. Most folks who work as subs will be hard put to change their stripes and see the World as a GC must.
     
  14. froggirl

    froggirl Feelin' Froggy

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    Wow...I had to take a few deep breaths before writing my response. It really burns me when folks make rude statements about a group of people....

    As a plumber's wife and owner of a plumbing company I have to say I'm sorry that your experiences were so terrible with your plumbers. Let me also say that all the work my husband does is to code or above....never substandard. In fact, he has taught the inspectors in our area a thing or two about plumbing.

    We are nothing without our reputation. We never steal from our customers or cheat them in any way shape or form. Wouldn't think of it!

    The trend that I see in our area are contractors dumping their licenses due to the incredibly high cost of insurance...they then become "consultants". Our state is very strict about who can general and who can't...thus these consultants will coordinate and schedule, get bids etc. but then the bill AND the bid are sent directly to the homeowner and the consultant sends a seperate bill for his time.

    As plumbers we are not licensed to general a job and would NEVER WANT to. We concentrate on doing a great job for the customer and try to make the experience a good one.

    My husband went through 4 years of school plus an apprenticeship to be a plumber. He also had to take various state tests...plus we pay a huge chunk of our income to insurance. We are not making a killing. We earn a fair wage doing an honest days work and I KNOW that any of our customers would say the same about our company. We typically work 14 hour days...usually 6 of those are billable hours.

    My husband frequently comes home with other people's crap on him...he's been to houses where people have allowed their children to urinate in the corner of the same room he was working in. People expect him to crawl around in the sludge under their house to find the leak and balk and think a plumber a prima donna because he wants it to be cleaned out first...ever heard of Hep C??

    People always pay the plumber last since the plumber can't turn off your electricity or your cable...priorities, right? We give senior discounts and have been known to trade a dozen cookies for a service call when it was obvious the customer couldn't afford the work that was done.

    If all of your experiences have been negative when it comes to plumbers and electricians maybe they're not the problem. :mad:

    A very offended plumber's wife,
    --f.g.
     
  15. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    Heather,

    You are NOT building a house, you are having a house built. Stating that you are building a house means that you are doing the work. Having a house built for you means you are hiring people to build it for you. There is a huge difference.

    In the contract you signed with these "consultants", what did you agree to pay them for their time and services for getting quotes, hiring subs and overseeing the building process? Basically, the job you have hired them to do is to act as the General Contractor------but then you said that is what you were doing. I don't understand then what it is they are doing and what you are doing. An experienced General Contractor would know what the going rate is for plumbing and electrical and would know who does good work and who doesn't and know when a bid is reasonable for the quality of the work being done.

    When you have houseplans done, that houseplan is "red lined". That means that you go through the plan and establish materials and budget. The General Contractor then knows what the budget is for each step of the process to keep the house price from getting out of control. I can go to Lumber Liquidators and get kitchen cabinets for about $75 a running foot. I can go to Lowes and buy top of the line Kraftmaid with all the bells and whistles for $250 a running foot. I can hire a cabinet maker to come in and hand make cabinets for $500 a running foot. If my budget is $75 a running foot, I don't hire the cabinet maker!! Ditto on everything in the house. If I want Kohler cast iron sinks, I don't budget for bottom of the line stainless steel. This is why a lot of Builders can't give you an exact price per sq ft they can build a house for because different materials cost different amounts. This is also why people hire a Builder/General Contractor and they go to buy carpet or light fixtures and he says "you can only spend $400 for all the light fixtures" and you are mad because one of the lights you want costs $500.

    In answer to the question of what to do? A lot will depend on the contract you signed with these men because you are obligated to fulfill that contract. If you are going to be the General, then be the General. Otherwise, I would recommend you find a General Contractor that is highly regarded in the area and use him. Establish your budget before you start building.
     
  16. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Very offended plumber's wife:

    Sorry if you take any of this personal. The former was not rude statements about a group of people.... It simply was the truth as I have found it. I never met a plumber worth a damn, especially on larger jobs where interaction and coordination to meet a common goal was required. Most couldn't even show up as required to meet their contract obligations.

    Basically I did remodelling and repair type work for about 15 years with a partner. Before we both had worked for some of the major Engineering A-E type companies. My experiences well suited me to be a GC but basically I did everything and got plenty dirty. Jobs were very small one day affairs to sometimes over a year. Usually we avoided using subcontractors of all sorts like the plague, if possible in the old dazes, never got permits, (nobody did) for repair or smaller remodel. I did it all hands on. We had hired help but led from the front.

    In the time I was working never had a customer complain, never got sued, never had to advertise, always got the next job from the prior customers referrals.

    Your DH may well be the exception. Probably even one good lawyer around, or it could be even two. Always those who break the mold. Who knows how many honest hard working really knowledgeable plumbers still lurk on these salt licked shores???? :shrug:

    Believe me you are not alone in insurance stories. What about a $68,000 job with an architect involved, the additional insurance binder required was $22,000 for that job alone. Finally the partner got it down to $2200. For every objecting offending question asked by the insurance company, he checked off "By Others, I have been called a lot of things. Tough to have folks on the jobsite told to go see "By Others". :grit: Glad somebody would still call me for chow.

    One of the bigger jobs that lasted over a year we cooked lunch on site and invited everybody to eat. Except the plumber. Best of bad choices, he could buy his own lunch. Didn't really matter, usually didn't stay around to lunch time, his hired help wasn't invited either. They screwed off after he left.

    Nope, I did have some positive experiences with electricians. Those ate lunch with us on that job. Never found a decent plumber, ever. You need to have your DH, go spread the word. Clean up the profession, be respectable enough to go to lunch with.

    Contractors dumping their licenses due to the incredibly high cost of insurance...they then become "consultants". Lord, can the rebirth of Lawyers be far behind?? I need to restart a business to consult with consultants about what they should consult to do. Stupid things like just get it done, on time and budget.

    Next time you are wondering aimless around a parking lot, ask yourself why are you not hiring a former bag boy for a store as a consultant as your guiding light. Nope, plumbers and electrician as other than those trades are a total non-starter to any logical discussion. But then again the World has gone to Hell in many ways, don't mean you have to understand any of it. :sing:
     
  17. froggirl

    froggirl Feelin' Froggy

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    it's a sad state of affairs when a person can find an honest and dependable plumber...guess it's time to move to Ohio. :)
     
  18. froggirl

    froggirl Feelin' Froggy

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    not to beat a dead horse but thought you could appreciate our New Construction Policies we send with each bid. After 3 years of being taken advantage of, stepped on and basically disrespected by GC's we typed up this:
    I _____________________________ have read the above policies. I promise to not act surprised when I get a bill for forgetting to call and cancel a scheduled 2-day appointment especially since many other people would have gladly taken my appointment but were turned away to other plumbing companies. I understand that the plumber’s time is worth something and will not call to complain when I get a bill for the plumber going out to a total finish set when only the kitchen sink has been delivered. I’ll do my best to educate my homeowners on the standards in this industry. I will let them know it is inappropriate to expect the plumber to drop everything to install their water heater that day so they can “camp out” in their unfinished home on Labor Day weekend. I will not moan, female dog, cry, yell , wail or make the dispatcher feel guilty when I have called 2 days in advance to schedule a 7 day project and I can’t be fit in. I will give at least 2 weeks notice when scheduling a major portion of my project. I promise to never knock on the plumber’s door at 7am on a Sunday wanting a clamp, fitting or pipe for my kid’s tree house. I will remember that neither the plumber nor his suppliers are on “island time” and will pay my bill on time or at least call to say the check will not bounce. I promise to remember my plumber is a man with needs, who occasionally appreciates a doughnut and a cup of coffee.

    Signed_______________________ this day, the _______ of _________, 2005

    Since sending this with our bids we have not had a problem with any of the above....go figure.
    --f.g.
     
  19. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Well said Mudwoman.

    Actually you can go to the Hometime TV show and get a set of documents that completely outlines what a GC does and lays out exactly how a standard house building project is supposed to work in all aspects and phases. Has typical paperwork used.

    It goes into the entire budgeting, scheduling, bidding, construction, inspection and management aspects that should occur. Think a number of building dept's in cities and towns also have this type info available in a packaged form that totally lays out the process a typical GC goes through to do the standard house building project.

    Maybe still not too late.

    If there is any secret, keep the number of subs to a minimum. Find GC's who have lots of integrated abilities. In Boston I got to know this one builder who was doing about 60 houses a year. Each house, he attempted to cut out the middleman and subs. Last I heard he only was using 3 subs total to do a house and was trying his best to cut that too none. Actually one was a captive concrete guy that did the foundations. So only left, you guessed it, the plumber and electrician. Still a lot of screaming to be done.
     
  20. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup, if I got that note, it would sure modify my business practices. No more bitching, crying , yelling or wailing. Moaning there is a different story. Don't think I would want to give up the Moaning.

    Still don't think that plumber is going to be getting the freebie doughnut and cup of coffee. Might have to make do with weak background moans to start his day. :goodjob:

    I would agree to tell him the Check was in the Mailroom. But not say who's. :buds: