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Why Free Estimates?

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Posted by: from Pickering
2/5/2013 at 8:07:09 PM

I have a question for all contractors in the Toronto area. I have been in the home improvement business for over 40 years and ever since I can remember we give free estimates (why I dont know). So, why do we do it when plumbers, electrician, tv repairmen and heating and air conditioning contractors always charge a service call anywhere from $85 - 125 per service call. I think our gas for our trucks are as important as theirs.

Lets all get together and start charging for our time!!! Most home owners are shoppers and a lot of them waste our time and gas giving them free estimates.

Let me know your thoughts on this. And be honest (maybe i'm wrong).

Thanks

REPLIES (33)
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Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:09:40 PM

I agree with you 100%. We do spend a lot of time and gas driving to estamate a job that sometimes the homeowner will also take to another contractor and ask to beat our price that we quoted.

Even if we charge a quoting fee that gets reimbursed in the quote if they choose our company to do the work, limits a homeowner to get a couple prices as opposed to 50 trying to get the (cheapest) price witch is sometimes a nightmare for some homeowners in the end.

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:19:21 PM

James,

Just so you know, most sub-trades do give free estimates as well. In fact, I do not know anyone who charges for a quote and gets paid for it without getting the job, residential, commercial or industrial.

I know as a home-owner myself, if I paid $50 to each guy I asked quotes from, it would jack the price of the repair up as well. Most of these fees have to be eaten by the company or raise your rate by $1-$2 per hour to cover the free estimates. Burying it in the quote is the only way it could work.

I charge quotes for anyone outside of 25kms of my office area and am up front about that as well. 90% of the people say, "No thanks then", but most of those jobs are just people tire-kicking anyway. The other 10 say "add it in the quote then".

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Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:19:29 PM

I'm located in Woodstock, ON and I know that some guys around here charge between $40 - $60 (it's a bit cheaper around here simply because we're not in the big city) to come measure up a job and then do all the leg work that is involved with the quote process. Most guys will give the prospective customer a promise to apply that charge to their bill IF they are hired. Others just charge it and keep it.

One thing though around here some customers won't ask you to come quote if you have a charge (like I said, this isn't the city). For those people you pretty well either got to bite the bullet, add it into the finished price, or be quick on your toes and start talking good numbers over the phone to try to entice them to invite you to come.

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Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:20:47 PM

You go First Eh!

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Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:26:18 PM

I think its about time we charged for estimates.

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Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:33:08 PM

I agree with you wholeheartedly! I too have been in the renovation industry for 25 years and am a third generation contractor. We have never charged and should. I'm sick of the calls that start out with " your quotes are free right" and when I show up there is a line up of contractors giving each other the evil stare on the street. I just drive off. I'm not participating in the three ringed circus.

My name is Paul and I run Durham Kitchens and Renovations. I think you have something here so let's get the ball rolling because I'm sure there are a lot of contractors out there who have been waiting for someone like you to start this conversation.

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Date/Time2/5/2013 at 9:33:09 PM

Hello fellow contractor.

I've been saying this for years now. The only reason I don't charge for estimates is because everybody else offers them for free and if I charge then I will not get the calls if everyone else is offering free estimates.

I feel we should be charging for estimates because it takes at least 2-3 hrs to complete (including the drive there and pricing out the materials based on square footage) and as you said the gas in my truck isn't free and trucks are not easy on fuel.

A lot of potential clients already have an idea of cost or already have a contractor they favor and just call for free estimates to compare prices or to use as negotiation power with their contractor. I understand the client should get at least three qualified comparable estimates but these days people call more than 10 contractors and don't care becauee it's free for them.

I think we should make a pact and start charging minimum rates for such services. I'm on board.

Two eight nine four zero zero two two zero six.

HomeWorks by Design

Jay - Owner Operator

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 12:08:36 AM

I think the stigma of not charging our potential clients for estimates is because the contractors that fly under the radar, the ones that aren't truly contractors and don't have their companies registered, pay wsib, have insurance and continually drive the prices down because of lack of overhead, constantly get the work over legit companies because clients want to save money.

I think if we charge a flat rate of $100.00 to any potential client to quote a project would be more than fair. Now if the client gives you the project work the $100.00 into the cost of the project and if you don't get the project at least some of your time preparing the construction agreement and time and gas is covered.

I don't know, this is just an idea.

Cheers

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 12:36:05 AM

I believe your ability to do this depends on a number of things:

1) Your trade.

2) The volume you do

3) The type of people that contact you.

4) Your closing rate.

The big box stores charge for most estimates. $50 I believe. But the volume and type of people they get must just be astounding. I think paying for anything makes people a bit more serious. A friend once told me the best way to learn to play poker was to play for money (he might have just been trying to get my money). But money does bring a certain seriousness to the table. So even a small fee would make people think before calling 10 people.

I would love to charge something. However with most companies business models stating free estimates I think Robert is right and you just have to build it into your pricing. Liike WCB, Insurance and all your other overhead.

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Brian from DreamBuilders Renovations and Repairs in Port Rowan
Date/Time2/6/2013 at 10:23:38 AM

Although we have been doing renovations and repairs for several years we just moved back to Ontario over a year ago and officially started our company business last April. The reason we promote free estimates on our advertising has been just to remain competitive with everyone else hoping for the opportunity to get their foot in the door. It is also something I think that customers have come to expect.

Up until now I hadn't considered it an option to do anything else but viewed it more of a tax write off and cost of doing business to stay competitive. However an associate in the landscaping business advised that I consider charging a minimal fee for an estimate and if chosen for the job the fee would be waived. I think that is a great idea and is as close to free as one could get while covering the cost of gas or perhaps it is something to apply if over a specific distance from your business.

We had a potential client who was going to be charged by a contractor to provide an estimate even though he lived nearby within the same city so she refused him and called us instead although we lived 45 km away. Her first question was "Do you charge for an estimate?" and our answer was "No, our estimates are free and with no obligation". As it turns out we did not get the job either because in the end I believe money was the issue and she was looking for the cheapest price available.

Our prices are very competitive and we believe in the philosophy that you get what you pay for. Since we refuse to provide a cheap-looking result we are not cheap but strive to be competitively affordable. In this particular example we didn't get the job either and I didn't get a good feeling with this potential client so it was considered the cost of doing business. I would like to change our policy on this but would have to have my husband in agreement.

I am curious to see what other people have to say.

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 10:48:06 AM

The way of most of the contractors are controling this matter. We could not able to do it individually as this is will afftect the numbers of contact customers. The customers used to do it the way of free estimate and it is kind of hard to control the issue and do it as a part of the business roll .....which I like to!

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 11:48:03 AM

I agree with all of you. The feasibility of implementing such charges will not be an easy task. Consider the leads generated from this website. Each lead generates 20 to 30 responses to the project posted. If the consumer selects 5 companies to quote and each charges $100.00. The consumer now has added $500.00 to the project before selecting a contractor.

There is so much competion in our industry that we have no other alternative but to offer free estimates. Free estmates are a cost of doing business.

Count me in if anyone has a way to implement these charges.

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Maxi Construction Limited in Woodbridge
Date/Time2/6/2013 at 1:00:42 PM

Do like lawyers do. Give them a higher than normal quote and put in the contract that if it takes less to do the job you will refund them or consent to lower the contract price.

No need to drive anywhere, because people nowadays like to auction backwards. All you do driving is make oil companies make even more money.

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 2:04:22 PM

As of today I am going to start charging for my estimates. This way it will stop all the shoppers and only the serious people will ask u to come over. I believe $75 is a fair price. If they don't want to pay they can go else where.

Ask them if they like to get paid when they work !!

I can no longer drive around the entire city wasting my time because that what 95% of people do when getting free estimates.

Who's on board ?

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 3:59:04 PM

James,

A whole lot of responce, huh? Great to see.

So here is my opinion. I don't charge for estimates but I am considering it. The issue is that many of us do small jobs so the added cost of a estimate may be a deterrent. What I try to do is get as much information about the project over the phone and do a mental calculation on the potential cost ... and the distance from my base. If it is worth while, charge for the time & travel. What I also have done is to suggest that a fee for the estimate would be deducted from the project cost, if I am awarded the contract.

Again, it depends on the circumstances and your competition. It isn't a level playing field. At the very least, you should ask for "gas money", the time is considered a learning experience.

Regards,

Mark

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 5:30:41 PM

Yes, all estimate cost $75 but if and when they sign a contract I would deduct the service call from the price.

Come on everyone get on board !!!

Thanks

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John in Aurora
Date/Time2/6/2013 at 6:45:49 PM

There is no such thing as a free estimate. It costs money. I started my business in 1971. We created this problem; we have been acting like a pack of Wolves against each other. We gave the customer everything they asked, for nothing in return.

I took part in this foolishness, but stopped many years ago. I reduced my expenses and increased my profit. If I turn down 4 customers a week because they don't want to pay a fee, on an average cost to me of $50.00, travel time, time on site, plus gas, multiplied by 50 weeks, I save $10,000 a year. How many jobs do I have to complete to make that money NET.

Customers who pay are serious about having work done. They have kept my company prosperous for years. This is a SERVICE INDUSTRY. We provide a SERVICE. Your company is a service provider. Your services are a valuable commodity worth compensation. There is nothing wrong with it.

I understand why some people don't charge. If you do charge, at first it will be hard. How much does it cost to drive around to satisfy curious customers.

Big box stores charge $50 - $75. If customers pay them they will pay you. Trust me.

Free estimates has nothing to do with being competitive, if everyone charged a fee, bar none, we would all still be competitive. Free estimates are not a tax write off or a cost of doing business. Driving to give free estimates is the same as running the engine of a truck for hours while it is parked. Driving a 90km round trip only to be told NO THANK YOU is not profitable.

If customers are asked to pay, time wasters will disappear leaving the serious ones. Customers only need 3 estimates, anything more will be a waste of their time and money, and they know this. The winning contractor will refunded his fee; the customer will incur the cost of the other two fees. They will see it as an investment. Win win all around.

Being busy and making money is not the same. Some work day and night with no time for anything else. They start with a rundown truck and years later are still running around in a rundown truck. They have not made any money, they have not grown. They constantly price, give free estimates like candy, under cutting the next guy, NEVER taken seriously by the customer. They do not command respect. They give everything for free.

Start charging, you have nothing to lose. The customer will realize this is the new normal.

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 8:22:47 PM

Posted 2/6/2013 at 11:48:03 AM

I agree with all of you. The feasibility of implementing such charges will not be an easy task. Consider the leads generated from this website. Each lead generates 20 to 30 responses to the project posted. If the consumer selects 5 companies to quote and each charges $100.00. The consumer now has added $500.00 to the project before selecting a contractor.

There is so much competion in our industry that we have no other alternative but to offer free estimates. Free estmates are a cost of doing business.

Count me in if anyone has a way to implement these charges.

The idea of charging for an estimate is to get the homeowner to stop calling 5, 6, 7 , 8 contractors for the same job to compare prices.If the homeowner knows its costing him $75 to have someone come to their home to give a quote they will only call 3 like they should, and the one who gets the job doesnt charge for the quote.

I had a call for to give a quote on a shingled roof. I forget how many sq were there but my cost was $3500 so i quoted $4300. After spending my time, gas and such he told me i was the 8th person there and i was one of the top prices. He told me one guy wanted $1800. I asked him why wasnt it done yet?

Now if he was paying for a service call I gaurantee he'd only get 3 prices and his roof would have been done !!

Thanks

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Date/Time2/6/2013 at 8:43:26 PM

Check out this post, this is what i'm talking about ::

AUTHOR Question: Cost-Effectiveness In Basement Waterproofing And Crack Repair

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Sarah

Windsor

Posted 8/3/2012 at 10:42:43 PM

Could someone advise me on which method of basement repair is the most cost-effective?

Previously I have posted a question on the direction of basement repair. Thanks all knowledgeable contractor. All strongly suggest that I should fix the crack and prevent water from coming in before attempting anything further. Which led me to contact a number of contractors specialized in basement repair and waterproofing. In one week, I got five contractors giving suggestions and estimations. Bless them all for their professionism.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There's just one person who in 1 week had 5 different contractors at his home. So if he gave the job to 1 of them, he then wasted the time of 4 others.

This madness has to stop people !!!!!!!

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John in Aurora
Date/Time2/6/2013 at 11:01:31 PM

James,

You mention the feasibility of implementation of those charges will not be easy. You give an example of a consumer adding $500 to the project before selecting a contractor. That is not our problem. He may call 10 contractors and add $1000 to the cost of the project. That is his problem, at least the contractors are being paid for their time and service which they provided. Like I said in my previous post, 3 quotes should be enough.

First you agree with all of us, and then say we have no alternative but to offer free estimates. I understand your frustration, but we do have a choice, we should just say NO. Free estimates should not be viewed as a cost of doing business; it is a drain on businesses, we have to understand that.

You lost your bid for the shingled roof. If all eight bidders were to charge, I bet the customer would call only 2 or 3 contractors, (you said so yourself), you may have been one of them, and may have got the job. See how it can work. James, you are right, this madness has to stop.

I would like to suggest, and hope to see, those contractors who wish to take part in this discussion and are strongly committed in making a change to actually say so.

Here is a suggestion to all out there. If you are serious in this subject and actually want to make a commitment to end this madness, and want to arrange a time and place to meet with like minded contractors, perhaps you should post it on the site, that way we could have an idea of the numbers of people who are truly interested.

Let's not just talk about it, let's get together and discuss our concerns face to face over coffee. We could select a central location suitable for all. By meeting we could exchange ideas and concerns, and make new friends. Perhaps we could create some sort of contractor's membership to work towards the betterment and the benefit of its members. Networking is a powerful way to enhance businesses.

Put the word out there to your fellow contractors and ask them to participate.

It does not matter if you are a one man organization or a large company, our concerns are the same and objectives should be for the betterment of all. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. There is strength in numbers.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.

John

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Date/Time2/7/2013 at 11:25:09 AM

As a landscape contractor for over 40 years, if you can present your company in the right light keep giving a free estimate.

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Date/Time2/7/2013 at 1:37:00 PM

John,

No, I want to charge for my time for sure.....I believe charging a service call fee will stop people calling 5 - 10 contractors and wasting their time. If they have to pay for a service call they will most likely only call 3 like they should.

Nothing worse than answering a call and the first thing we hear is " Do you give free estimates ".....all that tells me is that they are shopping and will most likely call 6 - 10 other contractors to get the cheapest price or the one that fits their budget. Most customers when they want work done have a price in their head already and 99% of the time they are shocked when they get a price because they are usually really low in their thinking.

Let's all start charging a service call anywhere from $55 - $75, you decide whats best for u.

Thanks

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Audio Authority in Vaughan
Date/Time2/7/2013 at 5:32:34 PM

I whole heartedly agree, tired of shoppers for the lowest price. If some one isin't willing to fork over $50 for my time (wich I will gladly discount upon signing a contract) then what makes you think they are serious about dishing out thousands for their project, they are just window shopping.

I have been speaking with many people in the trades and all are starting to agree. We hold lawyers to such high standards (because they went to school) and give huge down payments, and I see customers feeding $100 dollar bills into a casino machine but yet my time/designs/effort/sourcing and fuel for at least two visits to the customer's home aren't worth a ferw dollars? Then I'm sorry but they should not be worth MY time away from MY family either! Fair is fair. I paid $85 for a service call for my dishwasher, and that was just because he showed up, parts and labour were extra. (but I understand this).

Almost forgot to mention, I too went to school for my trade and paid a lot of money and I have certifications and continue to attend seminars for new products and knowledge upgrading. I think I'm worth getting paid, for both my time and most importantly my knowledge. Shoppers get my knowledge but rock bottom pricing from others (who by the way cannot duplicate my services).

This practice has to stop. Enough said. You go with your gut for charging. Why isin't this all over the internet already?

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John in Aurora
Date/Time2/7/2013 at 7:41:43 PM

Eli,

I am glad to see people beginning to be vocal, but a few is not enough.

We can all sit back vent and complain, but what are we going to do about it?

Like I said before, I have not given a free estimate for years and never looked back. At first it was tough, I explained to the customers that there would be a small fee for my service, and the fee would be refunded off the final payment, they started laughing at me. Some people actually were angry and some verbally abusive. NO JOKE, I am not kidding.

At first customers use to ask "Do you give free estimates?" The answer was "Yes, but there will be a small charge for the service". They use to ask "Well, what's the difference, it's the same thing". My answer was always the same, the estimate is free, but my service which I provide is not. I always informed the customer that I don't make money on the fee, and that the fee would not even cover my travel time there and back, my time spent on site and my gas. The fee was merely a small payment towards the expense I would incur in order to provide them with my service.

Many would say to me "But you're the contractor, it's your job to give free estimates".

Or "Everyone gives free estimates, if you want the job you have to give me a free estimate" I always thanked them for calling and left them with "If there is anything I can do for you in the future, please call me, I will be there for you and happy to assist".

This went on for about 2-3 weeks, but I was determined. Eventually some customers began to see the logic, not many, but a few, it was then that I knew this thing works. Steadily customers that were willing to pay grew and my success rate in getting the jobs also grew. Some customers who turned me away eventually called me back, because they understood the situation and how hard it is to find a good contractor.

Now, every time I start my truck I know I will break even by giving a free estimate or make a profit if I get the job. I refuse to take money out of my pocket just to satisfy a customer's "I WONDER HOW MUCH IT WOULD BE FOR A BATHROOM RENO". "The customer is not stupid" good ones value a great service and are willing to pay for the right contractor who puts value on their service.

To contractors who give freebies in ratio terms. Jobs:free estimates. 1:8 and above, quit and get a job. My rate is an average 1:3 and they pay for it.

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Audio Authority in Vaughan
Date/Time2/8/2013 at 7:47:22 PM

Hi John and thank you for the great and intelligent responce. Any time you would like to meet for coffee and discuss this further, I'm on board, heck I will even buy the coffee.

We need to stop consumers who aren't serious. The are simply waisting our time and resources and actually making it more expensive to do business, wich cost them in the end.

You may look me up. I am all for creating (an organization) for the trades. We need representation and support for the serious trades people. If all the proper trades charge then we will weed out the fly-bys.

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Date/Time2/11/2013 at 3:06:08 PM

Well everyone that has been following and posting on my post. Today I got 4 calls and 2 asked me if I gave free estimate and I told them YES, however my time to come out to see your job was $65.00. 1 said forget it and the other said ok after i explained that I am no different then you, I like to get paid when I work as well.

Then I told him that if you give me the job I do not charge for the service call.

We signed a contract on the spot. He was happy and so was I !!

Oh and I have appointments for the other 2 calls too, with a service charge of $65.00

Stop giving FREE ESTIMATES !!!!

If you value your work then $50 -$75 is not too much to ask for !!

Thanks

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Date/Time2/12/2013 at 9:46:00 AM

I'm just about seven hours away from Toronto but I believe this subject applies country wide.

Technically speaking, I wish I could agree with you and start charging for all estimates done however this would very quickly escalate to an industry disaster.

Have you ever imagined if all sub-trades were to charge an estimation fee and start charging every time a general contractor request a quote? Quickly, a standard house renovation could cost over 1,000$ of estimation charges without even knowing if you get the job. This same fee would then have to be passed over to the client along with your estimation and administration/profit charges. Roughly here we're talking about more or less 1,500$ to estimate the cost of a 30,000 - 50,000 residential reno, and that excludes any other general contractors who were asked to quote in comparison.

I think we're better off to absorb the cost of estimation and assess the yearly value to our overhead charges.

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John in Aurora
Date/Time2/12/2013 at 11:24:44 AM

Well done James, that makes two of us, any more out there?

You see it does work, you have proved it. It's just a matter of being prepared to lose in the short term, to gain in the long term.

For the contractors who continue to give their time and service for free and encourage others to do the same, "Because they have been doing it for years and it works for them" are cutting their own throats, encouraging others to do the same and are doing a disservice to the whole industry. Just because you have been doing it for years, DON'T MAKE IT RIGHT, it created the mess we are in today. I took part in that nightmare and I take blame for being a part of it. But that was then, this is now. Things MUST change.

You have the power to change this industry and your business, in turn it will affect your life and how you live it in a positive way, but first you must make a conscientious decision to do it. It will be hard, but worth it. You must decide from this point forward that you and only YOU must be in total control.

Some of you reading this will think I am not taking into consideration the fact some will continue to give free estimates. I strongly believe, and this is my personal view, I am quite sure many people out there will disagree with me, and they have my respect, that contractors who will take advantage and continue to give freebies will eventually see that they are actually no better off.

Think what would happen if EVERYBODY stopped TODAY, and charged a fee. The majority of the customers would tell us to go to hell. Fine, we are already in it, we should expect that, BUT we should not panic, instead we should be happy and resolute, because we will be sending out a powerful message, and that customers at last will begin to understand.

The customer will call around and find no contractor is willing to come out for free, and eventually run out of people to call. At that point the customer will begin to panic, as they will have NO OPTION. They will either have to do the work themselves, or sign up with Home Depot for a Saturday afternoon How-To workshop and start banging nails into a piece of wood along with all the 5 and 6 year olds, or they may decide not to have any work done at all, or, and here is the icing on the cake, are prepared to PAY a service fee.

I hope more of you commit to this principal and post your results.

John

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John in Aurora
Date/Time2/12/2013 at 2:49:05 PM

Carl,

I respectfully disagree with you regarding the disaster this may create in the industry. Instead it will iron out all the discrepancies and actually put some order in it, create some form of expectancy, guidelines and strength.

Allow me to explain. You may be referring to the relationship between sub-trades and General Contractors (GC). What I have been, and believe the majority of the others have been talking about is the relationship between a contractor and a customer one-on-one. Residential only.

The two relationships (Contractor V Customer & Sub's V GC) are not the same thing at the moment, but it should be.

First, the relationship between sub-trades and GC's. We should stop looking at the GC as a GC, but rather as a CUSTOMER. GC's need trades as much as trades need GC's. They are not God, and should not expect the trades to supply them with free quotes to do their job. Remember we are ultimately working for the home owner no matter what. Treat your GC as you would a homeowner. If GC's were not to pay the trades invoices, the trades will go after the home owner, so who is working for who? Remember, the GC is a middleman, thats all. The home owner has to absorb the cost of the GC's and the sub-trades expenses in providing a professional service, why not? When did a service stop being a service, A SERVICE IS A SERVICE IS A SERVICE.

Second, the cost of estimation charges added to the house Reno that may cost $30.000 - $50.000. You estimate roughly $1500, let's say $50 per estimate, the GC would need 30 quotes from his trades, ridiculous. On an average of 3 per trade, he will need 10 trades. That is 30 guys making trips to the site, (imagine 30 people visiting a home owners house to see the job, it's not going to happen) or, to the GC's office to get the drawings, making copies of the drawings and burning fuel at their cost, crazy.

Many GC's sign an agreement of retention with the customer to retain their services to provide a full estimate. That's how they cover costs and stay in business.

What if the GC did not get the job, should you share in his loss, you certainly do not share his profit.

Most GC tend to use the same trades most of the time, so trades are pretty much guaranteed the job, all others will be told to get lost. If the GC needs thirty quotes he is using you to brow beat his regular guys to a lower price.

John

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Lou in Colbourne
Date/Time2/13/2013 at 3:39:44 PM

I'd like to comment from the customer side: I get at least 3 quotes for everything that is going to be costly, and I tell them that on the first call; without more than 1 quote, as a non-professional I have no way to know if i'm getting hosed or not. I want to see & talk to the tradesman to assess him as an individual and as a professional.

I've had guys show up that make about the worst impression possible: dirty, smoking, throwing their butts on my lawn, junky ill-maintained vehicle, cursing, etc. These guys are hardly out of the vehicle before I send them on their way.

Feel free to charge for a quote, but you will not see me. A successful contractor will have no problem getting steady jobs with fair pricing. I remember what one fellow said: you can get it cheap job, a fast job, or a professional job: pick any two and I will give you a quote.

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Date/Time2/13/2013 at 7:06:28 PM

Lou, you posted the following :

Posted 2/13/2013 at 3:39:44 PM

"I'd like to comment from the customer side: I get at least 3 quotes for everything that is going to be costly, and I tell them that on the first call; without more than 1 quote, as a non-professional I have no way to know if i'm getting hosed or not. I want to see & talk to the tradesman to assess him as an individual and as a professional.

I've had guys show up that make about the worst impression possible: dirty, smoking, throwing their butts on my lawn, junky ill-maintained vehicle, cursing, etc. These guys are hardly out of the vehicle before I send them on their way.

Feel free to charge for a quote, but you will not see me. A successful contractor will have no problem getting steady jobs with fair pricing. I remember what one fellow said: you can get it cheap job, a fast job, or a professional job: pick any two and I will give you a quote."

First of all you are a very rare person these days who only get 3 quotes. I have a question for you Lou. When you go to work ( being you do ) Do you like to get paid ?

Part of our job is to get in our vehicle, travel to see people, spend time with them giving them our professional advice, sit and figure out a material list, figure out our labour costs, add in our overhead, and people want all that for FREE ! As for being hosed, the client is more educated today than ever before about what it takes to do their job, so if a client gets hosed it's because of their lack of educating themselves.

Now that I have asked you a question about being paid when you work I bet your answer is YES YOU WANT PAID WHEN YOU WORK !!

Why shouldn't we ??

Please call me for a quote, I charge $75 for my service call (my time and expertise)

Have a great day

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John in Aurora
Date/Time2/14/2013 at 12:02:03 PM

Lou,

You get at least 3 quotes, what is your maximum. It's your right to refuse to pay for a quote. It's our right to charge for our service. You fail to see the difference between a quote and the service provided by a contractor at his expense.

You admit to being a non professional and are worried you may be hosed, you seem to mistrust people, which will naturally make you biased, but you call us because you know you need a professional.

Like minded people are convinced only contractors owe you something for nothing. When your car fails you, do you ask 3 mechanics to come to your house for a free quote, or do you take your car to 3 garages, using your gas. I bet you pay for the diagnostic charge to find the fault, and when given a Bill of $2000 - $3000 for a repair completed in one day, you willingly pay. If a contractor quotes you the same for a day's work you would be hopping mad and ask "How can you charge me that much for a day's work, what do you charge per hour?"

Lou, what would you do if every contractor were to charge for a quote, would you say "You will not see me" or would you live with a leaky roof, a flooded basement, a washroom that is unusable, no lights or power, a damaged wet ceiling with signs of mold because your toilet overflowed or your bathtub is leaking. I bet you would soon see the light and accept the inevitable and show us some respect.

You also say "A successful contractor will have no problem getting steady jobs with fair pricing". Don't confuse fair pricing with freebies, if you paid for his service you will still get a fair price.

We are and always will be there for customers, even for you, but we ask to be taken seriously for our knowledge and professionalism. Not all contractors are dirty smokers driving junky vehicles who curse while spiting a cigarette butt on people's lawns. Don't put us all in the same basket. How can you asses a person when you send them away before they are hardly out of their vehicle, are you peering from behind your curtains, making a judgment then running out and telling them to go away.

O.K, send away those who do not impress you, but pay the man who does and gives you a service. You sound precisely the type of customer that would benefit if you were to change your outlook, and I mean that most sincerely.

We are hard working people who deserve to cover our expenses, this is a business.

John

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Herbert from Bert'll Do It in Mississauga
Date/Time2/25/2013 at 8:56:04 PM

I always give one site visit for free to survey the work, meet the prospective client and get a feel for the client and the work to be performed. From this I provide an estimate only. I do not provide quantities, plans or anything that can be used by the next possible contractor. As well if I arrive on site and there are multiple contractors on site. I leave. I do not do bargain basement work. I will not compete like Walmart.

The initial visit is unfortunately an overhead that I have grown to accept. They often eat into my evenings and weekends.

As for certain sub trades, airconditioning, try ans get one or more to come and give a free quote. Mimimum $100 just to get them on site. The repair is always extra. I know. I have experienced it first hand.

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