Best to pay a contractor hourly or fee based on their quote?

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Posted by: from Medicine Hat
11/8/2014 at 12:40:54 PM


I'm trying to reno my house on a modest budget. I need stairs to the basement removed and filled in; and dropped in another section of my house. Also, a support wall opened up. The support wall opening would span 6'.

The contractor I'm looking to hire says $50/hr for him and his partner each and $15/hr for their helper. I would be responsible for all material costs and waste bin fees.

My question - is this standard?

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Date/Time11/8/2014 at 2:30:55 PM

Hi Sandi,

While handymen seem to be billing themselves out at this rate, whether they have the qualifications or not is another question. Based on the prices your paying, which is $115 an hour, a competent contractor should be able to quote on the work involved. You would be best served to acquire several quotes and compare. They should be able to demonstrate the cost with reasonable certainty thus removing any uneducated budget overruns.

The last thing you want is an unfinished project that someone told you would take three days and may realistically take 6.

As an example, at the rates your paying that would be an over run of $2700 or so. No one I know would be worried about quoting a job similar to yours.

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Date/Time11/8/2014 at 2:42:32 PM

The hourly rates depends on individuals expertise of the work, number of years of experience and quality done in given time.

The rates for Finish carpenter can be as low as 28$ to 40-45$ per hour max the helper can be as low as 12$ to 18$ per hour max also depends on how much help full he is just fresh or can he measure cut some thing, knows some thing about the trade and how to operate tools? Can he think ahead of time what is the next step and is prepared even before his senior ask him to do?

Bottom line for your project would be to hire some one who is experienced and expert in the area of the work you want to get it done.

Get both rates go over with the hourly rate guy and evaluate with him how much time he thinks he would take it to finish the job and keep a cap total value so that he is not under paid and you are not over paying. Leave some room for surprises so that you are covered just in case.

Hope this helps. The above is based on Toronto market.

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Date/Time11/8/2014 at 3:30:06 PM

There is a difference between a Contractor and a Handyman. While hiring a handyman has its merit, a professional contractor would be able to provide a comprehensive quotation on the entire project. If it is a considerable investment the best way is to use this method. It will save headaches and protect both parties involved. It is also mich easier to manage your budget with a comprehensive contract. The last thing you want is an unfinished/ unsatisfactory product without being able to hold someone accountable. Its a common reno horror story.


Future Perfect Construction

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Jon from Bennett Reno's in Hamilton
Date/Time11/8/2014 at 6:13:41 PM

It would all depend on the contractor because giving you an hourly rate would seem good and all but if he and his partner are not experienced enough it could end up costing you more.

For example most experienced contractors would be able to give you a price right off the top then you would know how much you are spending but when someone gives you an hourly price it could end up costing you more because they take too long doing the project or they charge more hours then they actually being or they could have more guys on site then needed.

Jon Bennett

Bennett Reno's

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G A Fraser Custom Contracting Inc in Norwood
Date/Time11/9/2014 at 2:03:34 PM

Hi Sandi,

- Experienced contractors can provide a quote for this work. The only reason for using time and material is if there are variables or unseen (ie hidden potential problems) which cannot be quoted. At the very least you need an estimate of the number of hours involved (preferably "capped") and, most important, you need to be on-site with them every single day to ensure your time and money are not being wasted. If you will not be available do not even consider time and material unless you have an established relationship with the contractors and trust them.

- Always obtain 2 or 3 estimates; do not feel you are wasting contractors' time by doing this, it's part of our job to provide quotes (some we win some we lose, that's just the way it goes) but it's the only way to get a true "feel" of the value of the work to be carried out.

Other points to consider:

- Are you paying cash? Do not even consider "cash cowboys" for structural work; it is a false economy that may end up costing you thousands.

- Ask for proof of their commercial liability insurance & WSIB coverage

- Please obtain a building permit to ensure this structural work meets code; otherwise you may become liable upon sale of the house; also if you need to make an insurance claim at any time in the future you will not be covered.

Good luck with your project!

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Sandi in Medicine Hat
Date/Time11/10/2014 at 2:10:47 AM

Thank you everyone for all your informative responses. I have since contacted other contractors to supply estimates.

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