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The air of desperation...
Old 05-02-2008, 08:30 PM   #1
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The air of desperation...

...what I said a few weeks back about now being a good time to get work done on your house is definitely becoming a fact...at least around here.

I pulled a building permit about 10 days ago. That must be public information thats posted somewhere, and the local contractors must be watching it.

I got hand addressed letters in the mail from an electrician, a plumber, a tile/stone guy and an HVAC guy offering to sub for me on my project. The tile/stone guy was sort of begging, saying he was a two man company and could really work on the price to get the job.

A long way from a couple of years ago when you couldnt get contractors to even return your calls, let alone submit a timely bid, let alone show up and do a good job.
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:33 PM   #2
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Good! good good. Thats all I can say without spouting venom about that. ...breath deeply.

Oh I remember calling a couple years ago just trying to get an estimate to get some work done...oh ya I remember you slugs.

Ya im not bitter at all

Bah I really tried honestly. /wipes venom
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:37 PM   #3
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Unfortunately for them I already have all the subs I need. I might give the tile guy a little job. I bought a bunch of marble for my two fireplaces and already cut it, but I've been putting off scraping off the old tile and setting the new stuff. Nice day job for someone who wants to make a few bucks and is going to charge me a rate that makes me not want to do it myself.

Funny, when I chatted up some of my neighbors about my BIL being around doing work on my place and did they need anything done on theirs? I got what I expected..."Oh no...we're not spending any money until the economy picks up and our house prices start going back up".

At which point the good contractors will once again be slammed and unavailable.

Isnt this kinda like selling all your stocks when the prices go down and then racing to buy them when the market is already up 25%?
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:42 PM   #4
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We are having work done. Guess what. Its the guy who took care of us on a simple job during the busy years. Works for me
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Old 05-03-2008, 02:08 AM   #5
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We've decided that we're staying in our house for the long haul and should remodel it to fit our needs, so we called the architect and hope to get permits soon... slowing moving though, but thanks for the reminder of how contractors may be slow now but will get busy later and not ever call me back - ugh, I never pick up on stuff like that!
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:09 AM   #6
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I remembe a few years ago my wife and I couldn't find an electrician to do a small job. They were all out working the developments. Same for plumbers etc.

I think I'll look at getting a well drilled at the camp this summer. I got a bunch of quotes from last summer. I wonder if the well drillers are less busy since new housing starts are down?
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Old 05-04-2008, 10:16 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
Unfortunately for them I already have all the subs I need. I might give the tile guy a little job. I bought a bunch of marble for my two fireplaces and already cut it, but I've been putting off scraping off the old tile and setting the new stuff. Nice day job for someone who wants to make a few bucks and is going to charge me a rate that makes me not want to do it myself.

Funny, when I chatted up some of my neighbors about my BIL being around doing work on my place and did they need anything done on theirs? I got what I expected..."Oh no...we're not spending any money until the economy picks up and our house prices start going back up".

At which point the good contractors will once again be slammed and unavailable.

Isnt this kinda like selling all your stocks when the prices go down and then racing to buy them when the market is already up 25%?
I looked at some of these small buildings-trade companies with revenue in the $500k - $750k range. If the owners weren't stupid, they were each netting $200k - $250k per year personally. Considering how long the real estate boom lasted from 1997 to 2006, if they saved 1/2 of their net income, they should all be millionaires.
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Old 05-04-2008, 11:33 AM   #8
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I call this karma, I'm all for everyone making a good living, but tradies seem to think they are above all the laws relating to customer service.

Maybe it's no coincidence that I don't think we have any tradesmen on this board talking about their impending FIRE.
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Old 05-04-2008, 12:18 PM   #9
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A local finish carpenter at our dojang has been working 50-60 hour weeks for years. He knows to work hard when the market's good because no one knows how long the market will be bad, but this peak has lasted for far longer than anyone expected. He says he's really looking forward to some down time.
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Old 05-04-2008, 09:54 PM   #10
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if they saved 1/2 of their net income, they should all be millionaires.
Based on my experience, they saved bupkus.

My BIL bought a hummer, a bunch of land he cant afford to develop, and leased a restaurant for his ditzy wife who ran it into the ground in two short years.

Then because the ditzy wife was getting a bit chubby, she got a second boob job to make it harder to notice the chubbiness, that being easier than losing ten pounds.

The other guys that work with him bought extra quads, boats, new cars, etc and when that ran thin refinanced their houses up to their new high values, which is generally 50-80k more than the homes are worth right now.

They're all sitting on their hands trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage this month.

For the time being, I'm the cash source. But thats only good for the next month or so...
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Old 05-04-2008, 10:16 PM   #11
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Our doorbell's been ringing a lot lately. If you're a little slow getting there some guy is usually heading down the walk to the neighbors and you typically find a flyer stuck behind the mail box advertising all types of home improvements.

One recent day we had five different people, they all looked like hungry contractors.
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:42 PM   #12
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Based on my experience, they saved bupkus.

My BIL bought a hummer, a bunch of land he cant afford to develop, and leased a restaurant for his ditzy wife who ran it into the ground in two short years.

Then because the ditzy wife was getting a bit chubby, she got a second boob job to make it harder to notice the chubbiness, that being easier than losing ten pounds.

The other guys that work with him bought extra quads, boats, new cars, etc and when that ran thin refinanced their houses up to their new high values, which is generally 50-80k more than the homes are worth right now.

They're all sitting on their hands trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage this month.

For the time being, I'm the cash source. But thats only good for the next month or so...
Holly crap. I always wonder how some people drive those shiny new pickup truck while I'm stuck driving a 6-year-old car. This kind of information is nice to know. It will be useful for me in negotiations.

BTW, I didn't know that boob jobs cost a lot of money. I have heard that they cost $5000 to $8000. I could be wrong.
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Old 05-24-2008, 11:32 PM   #13
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We had our fill of subs. I fired a couple during our recent house updating exercise. The main contractor usually required a couple of calls to get the subs. here and on time. I got the subs' phone numbers and called them myself. The beauty of being RE is you can be there and make sure stuff happens and is done right. The couple of times I was not there they screwed up and had to tear out a wall of tile or a countertop. The subs. here still seem to be doing well as building homes seems be continuing at a steady clip.

CFB, you are fortunate you can do a lot of the work yourself. I am no longer able to do it to my standards so I find it easier to just hire folks and then keep an eye on them. I agree that now is the time to get stuff done. Nothing like a pile of unpaid bills to get your calls returned and a decent price on a job.

Good luck with the renovation.
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Old 05-25-2008, 12:35 AM   #14
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I'm tempted to do some work, we just realized our petty cash account climbed north of 20k because we were too busy to move it somewhere, and I'm thinking rather than pay off the rest of the HELOC we'd get some windows replaced, get a drop down ladder installed for the attic, get the destroyed carpet on the first floor removed and replaced with hardwood, something like that. Next door neighbor is a contractor on hard times, and we've had him do some odd jobs (install built in microwave, garage storage). But I'm concerned about having him do a big job and messing up our current comfy neighborly relationship if it doesn't go well.
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Old 05-25-2008, 09:14 AM   #15
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Definitely noticed a big difference in the phone calls my BIL is getting. Last month his phone rang off the hook (okay, that doesnt work anymore, 'out of the pocket'?) with customers and subs on the job.

Now its 2-3 times a day with subs looking for jobs. Had a call when we were going to the dump last week and he listens a minute and says "You want new garage doors? This guys hungry. You can get them for $350 each, insulated dual layer...installed."

Maybe my favorite call was from a plumber who did a job for him at my SIL's house. He's wanting to know why my BIL didnt pay the bill yet. "Cuz I didnt like that bill, I want another one. Your guy only worked 7.5 hours, not 8. And you charged me too much for those fittings." New bill on the way.

How would that conversation have gone 2-3 years ago?

Bearing in mind that my house right now has all new windows with asphalt tape on them, and is foamed and chicken wired about 2/3 of the way up, and theres $4000 worth of wood and concrete on pallets in my driveway...lady comes walking up the driveway with a clipboard. She says she represents a company that does siding, windows, roofing, etc. I just turned around and looked at the house and turned back to her and said "does it look like i'm having trouble with getting my house torn apart and put back together?" :

I've had contractors leave flyers and cards at the door, but so far I havent had the clipboard carrying "Interested in any remodeling?" lady from the hardware store hit me up in the driveway.

These guys all think the works going to pick up in a couple of months, but I doubt it. My BIL was trying to get a loan to build 3 homes when he's done with mine, but he didnt get the loan. Seems the bank has doubts about things picking up too.
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Old 05-25-2008, 09:50 AM   #16
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I'm tempted to do some work, we just realized our petty cash account climbed north of 20k because we were too busy to move it somewhere, and I'm thinking rather than pay off the rest of the HELOC we'd get some windows replaced, get a drop down ladder installed for the attic, get the destroyed carpet on the first floor removed and replaced with hardwood, something like that. Next door neighbor is a contractor on hard times, and we've had him do some odd jobs (install built in microwave, garage storage). But I'm concerned about having him do a big job and messing up our current comfy neighborly relationship if it doesn't go well.
I'm not saying I have a good answer to this, but if your neighbor is "a contractor on hard times" then I would think not having him do the work is guaranteed to strain your relationship.
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