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Construction question

by Rick S / April 17, 2004 3:09 PM PDT

I know most of the particulars don't apply, I posted this on a locals website that I frequent but all opinions are appreciated. I'm spending a lot of money for us and don't want to make a serious mistake.


Is anyone familiar with FST Construction or Preferred Exterior Designs, LLC???

We are getting our house resided with James Hardie siding. We are currently getting estimates. Jack Silas recommended Excel. Excel bid $15000 without including the wrap. The compnaies mentioned above, one is commercial the other residential, bid $12500 icluding wrap and more. We really liked the guy, he sat down and talked to us for a good two hours overall.

We are getting another estimate Wednesday. My neighbor sells James Hardie siding. I went to the James Hardie website and th first company I called happened to be next door.

Anywho, does anybody (clam, beef, iptay, etc.,) no this company and their work? I know that the hardie plank stuff is only number two to brick and supposedly should desrease our insurance, it's fire proof, and descrease our termite bond since it's cement.

The guy we talked to today has no sales team he is the owner and, miraculously had a cancellation and can start in less than two weeks.

Once again we really liked the guy, he spent a lot of tme with us and we both felt he as being honest. He said they would paint two coats on the siding, i sthat enough?

The guy from Excel answered every question I had, insisted I get more quotes and said he'd beat any other quote I got. I'm not keen on bidding one against the other. I just want a quality job at a fair price.

Thoughts???

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References
by xerpor / April 17, 2004 3:31 PM PDT
In reply to: Construction question

Ask the man for the names of some of his customers that you can contact, talk to and see his work.

Richard

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Re:References
by Rick S / April 17, 2004 3:51 PM PDT
In reply to: References

He actually supplied a list of references. But you are only going to give a list of customers that are going to support your cause, yes?

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Weeeeeell, yes but ...................
by xerpor / April 17, 2004 3:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Re:References

You can tell a lot by talking to the people in person and looking at the work. That's a good sign that he was ready with references.

Richard

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Re:Construction question
by Evie / April 18, 2004 5:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Construction question

Hi Rick,

I know nothing about the various brands, etc. But it helps to get lots of bids (don't be shy, that's how it's done and most contractors expect some haggling over the price). Also verify their license with your state, any problems will show up there. Yeah, they aren't likely to refer you to disatisfied customers, but that they have people willing to vouch for their work at the ready that IS a good sign.

Evie Happy

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Re:Construction question
by Angeline Booher / April 18, 2004 6:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Construction question

Hi, Rick,

The 2 additions added to this house last year were sided with a cement product. It came pre-primed, and took the paint very well.

However, it was all done through the builder, and he uses only certain suppliers.

In my area, LLC stands for Licensed Landscape Contractor. So, I looked briefly in Google, and found:

Limited Liability Company. A type of company, authorized only in certain states, whose owners and managers receive the limited liability and (usually) tax benefits of an S Corporation without having to conform to the S corporation restrictions.

What I advise is for you to contact your Better Business Bureau, Home Builders Association, and Home Remodel Association. Also, whoever issues the licenses for your state. They can all tell of any complaints.

You will want to see proof that they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Good companies are happy to provide it. (neighbor or not, that is a lot of money you are going to pay.)

Of course, take care re: the pay-out of money. Around here, it is common to ,ake a down payment on custom stuff, like doors and windows. You can ask the above groups what is usual where you live.

My guess is that at least half, if not more, of the cost is for labor. (Who is going to paint the siding?)

What any of them say doesn't mean spit unless it is in writing..

Sometimes I get a little nervous re: "lucky cancellations". Like, "we have this as[halt left over from another job, so can do your driveway cheap."

Good luck!

Angeline
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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The more quotes the better. However........
by lylesg / April 18, 2004 9:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Construction question

more times than not three quotes will typically give you the high, the middle and the low. Comparing apples to apples and what I call *honest quotes*, they should only vary between five to seven percent of the total cost. A really low quote definitely raises a red flag. If one encourages you to get other quotes and that he will beat the lowest--a definite red flag is raised. It's almost certain he will have to cut corners to match the low one. The middle of the line quotes are typically the most honest. Again, most of your quotes should only vary five to seven percent.

I know nothing about siding costs, but I do know construction contractors and what to expect when seeking bids.

It seems to me that you are going in the right direction and others here at the forum have offered some worth while advise, too. Happy

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Gotta differ with you a little there ...
by Evie / April 18, 2004 10:26 AM PDT

... when my husband had his own business he typically could underbid other contractors by 10% or more. Bigger firms hire workers as employees and thus must pay higher labor costs. My husband generally hired subcontractors when he needed extra help on a job -- IOW they took care of their own insurance, etc. Yes, he had to pay a higher hourly rate, but still generally came out ahead. I agree that assuring that he could beat a low bid sounds suspect, but given the range of overhead costs for contracting businesses, it doesn't mean necessarily having to cut costs to meet the price. There is a LOT of play in construction costs!

Evie Happy

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Re:Gotta differ with you a little there ...
by lylesg / April 19, 2004 11:50 AM PDT

Hi Eve,

What type of work did your hubby do when he had his business?

There are always exceptions with bids and sometimes the lowest bidder has simply found an economical way to perform the work and the quality is still second to none. However, my having spent more than thirty years submitting and receiving construction bids, I have learned how the bidding process varies. There was a time when prime contractors would notify a subcontractor if the sub's bid fell ten percent below the second lowest quote. A really low quote possibly means that the sub. missed a portion of the work and to curb troubles down the road for all concerned, the courtesy call helped.

I quoted a project back in the eighties for seven miles of industrial fencing. Approximately half of the fencing was to be installed along the top of concrete retaining walls. I was the low bidder by approximately fifteen percent. The Contractor questioned my quote. Materials for the project was to be lab tested before installation so we ruled out the possibility of inferior materials. The next issue was labor. For the wall fencing, I convinced them that my installation process would be at least twice as quick as others and would save the Contractor man hours as well. I presented to them that their labor would install our posts as the walls were being poured. This cut their man hours as opposed to the alternative method and it saved me thirty percent in labor costs. I also explained to them that I would build a machine that would cut my man hours for the wire installation by one half for the walls. The project was completed as planned. What should have been a twenty-eight percent profit margin turned into forty percent margin for me. The Prime Contractor saved as well.

The short of it is?I agree, sometimes the low bidder does have a better way. Happy

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Re:Re:Gotta differ with you a little there ...
by Evie / April 19, 2004 12:12 PM PDT

Hi mojo,

Pretty much general construction -- everything from roofing & siding to kitchens & baths to small concrete work to complete home construction. Mostly him and a partner. In this area you had a lot of "freelancers" after the defense industry laid off the skilled trades, and a few big "family" construction companies. Being an independent but licensed contractor filled a niche. Also, they only hired additional help as needed. You can pay pretty darned well and still save if those people are paying their own insurance, etc., rather than trying to carry employees through all the jobs. And I made a good helper Happy

Evie Happy

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Re: Construction question -- Check all out with BBB for complaints, and...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / April 18, 2004 1:39 PM PDT
In reply to: Construction question

Hi, Rick.

Another possibility is to look on "the troubleshooter.com" and whatever Tom Tynan's new web site is and see if any are particularly recommended (or the opposite). Finally, ask around and see if anyone you know has friends "in the trade" that will tell you about the companies' reps, knowing you're not planning to come to them (the friend's contact) for a bid either way.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
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