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#206085 05/18/12 02:14 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,370
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Let me tell you a little story, from my house remodel.

I had two different contractors replace some windows. Here are the results:

Contractor "A" was the more expensive, by about $100/window. He called me moments before sending the crew out- not the day before, as I had asked. It two guys half a day to replace 3 windows, and the old ones were left at the curb for the trash guy to pick up in a week or two. Small debris was left in the grass.

Contractor "W" called ahead to amke sure I would be there. His one guy took about 90 minutes to replace four windows. He took his trash with him. He picked up his debris from the grass.

All employees, btw, were born-in-the-USA, dyed in the wool rednecks.

You'll have to trust me whan I tell you that all of the windows were the same size and equally accessible.

Contractor "W" wasn't perfect. His first quote was similar to that of the other guy .... until we noticed he had thrown in some 'options' that I didn't really need. That provided me an opportunity for some savings.

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Joined: Mar 2004
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twh Offline
So, contractor W should have charged a lot less because he took less than a quarter the time. 90 minutes for four windows is about 22 minutes per window.

I'm not a fast window changer, but the last window I changed took more than 20 minutes just to remove the old window. Installing, levelling, shimming, attaching and insulating the new window took more than 20 minutes. Clean up of the old frame and various parts was another more than 20 minutes. It took more than 20 minutes to repair the siding and it took more than 20 minutes to re-frame the inside.

I don't suppose you have a video?

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,370
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
No video, alas.

I wouldn't proportion the price according to the time, since the window itself doesn't change in price.

All of the windows were 'slip ins,' custom made to measure, to fit out-of-square into openings that had settled a bit over the years. Mind you, nothing was 'out' by more than a few gnat hairs.

"Slip-ins" go into the existing window trim work. There's no disturbing the siding; the old unit has a few screws / nails cut, the window is pulled out, the new one slips right into place. No insulating- just some caulk on the seams.

It's all a matter of, well, preparation and competence. It is possible that the first crew had to deal with windows that weren't quite right; they would have had to work harder getting them to fit right.

As simple as it sounds, I've seen far too many window and door jobs go south to take the chance; I let the pros do it.

So ... getting back on-point .... it is because of the perceived competence and housekeeping that I am now biased in favor of contractor "W" .... the lower price is just gravy.

I remember the times I did service changes; the absolute last thing I wanted to do afterword was deal with the old bits and pieces. I didn't even want to cut them up for the trash man. I really hated putting them in the dumpster- I just wanted to pack up and get out of there.

Now, as a customer, I see how wrong I was, just how self-defeating that attitude is.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,333
Likes: 7
'Slip-ins' at my daughters house averaged about 1 hour each. Remove molding carefully to re-install, remove lower sash, chop out parting strip, remove top sash. Test-fit the new unit; remove, caulk outer stop molding & sill; set new unit; chk level/plumb; set top trim piece; caulk inside; re-install molding. Carry two sashes to back of truck for disposal.

2-1/2 Saturdays...done.

I understand your logic on leaving a clean job!

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,291

So you had A&W change your windows.... and they didn't even leave you any Root Beer?

I try not to leave a trace of my visits. It was drummed into my head long ago. "The only thing thing that was supposed to be left on the job was the work itself."

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,370
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Yea ... we've discussed this before, and it's always hardest to be an honest judge of yourself.

This board is read by many folks - newbies, customers, even trunk-slammers. We hear quite often from guys who present their wisdom based upon their technical expertise.

What we rarely hear from is the customer. Indeed, everything seems set up to make sure that the guys on the shop floor are kept isolated from the customer.

"Joe Apprentice" has no idea how he looks to thecustomer. Far too often, things like clean-up are treated as punishment, or fit only for the guy at the bottom of the pecking order, and only when there's nothing else to do. We see this reflected in the business forum, where we have a few threads where someone asks "should the guys clean the company trucks on their own time?"

Joe Apprentice isn't making nearly enough money to be a customer himself.If he was, I bet a lot more start-ups would succeed.

Now .... I am currently in the position of being a customer to contractors. The experience has been a real eye-opener. My 'feelings' are a bit different that they were when I wore the contractors' hat, and I admit they may be a bit unfair and illogical. I hope that, by sharing them, some will enjoy greater success.

Along with taking away your trash .... well, you need something to take it away in. I, like most all of us, just tossed it in a pick-up truck. What I say next will be opposed by many, who will say they 'can't afford it.' If my feelings are any guide, I'd say they can't afford NOT to spend the monies I'm going to describe.

I'm simply not attracted to a beat-up, well-worn pick-up truck. Not one bit. A clean truck with professional signage does make me start feeling better .... a van with a decent 'wrap' reassures me. What really lights my fire, though, is an enclosed trailer with good signage.

Here's a specification: The signage simply MUST tell me who you are, what you do, and a phone number ... all in a font big enough for me to easily read as you make that left turn in front of me in traffic. White letters on a strongly colored background seems to catch my eye the best. Small type and involved artwork are negatives. Fancy lettering is a negative.

Such a trailer, and a clean truck or van, say "A real pro has arrived." OK, so I'll (as the customer) pay for that. Well, I don't want to pay anything at all for unprofessional work! I want a 'real pro.'

Ditto probably goes for your attire. OK, a suit is probably a bit much .... but there's a lot to be said for the guy showing up at our first meet in a normal car, wearing a shirt with a collar and something besides jeans. Likewise, the 'help' ought to be wearing reasonably serious clothing; a stained t-shirt and old jeans with holes won't make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

My perspective does change, depending on the work to be done. The concrete guys get to wear shorts and rubber boots. The carpet guy better not have dirty shoes.

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