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Old 01-28-2015, 03:34 PM   #41
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We haven't run into those issues too often but have some. One of my quasi-distant relatives grew up in a wealthy family and never adjusted to the reality that she did not have the income to support a luxury lifestyle. When she went BK a few years ago her daughter, my niece, asked us for a $5k "loan" for a bankruptcy attorney that given her history I knew we'd never see again. She was disappointed but sort of understood when I explained that when the dust settled her mother would still lose her house and I'd be out $5k and I didn't see the point in forestalling the inevitable.

Another SIL has had mental issues for decades and has been on welfare since shortly after high school. She thinks we're "cold and uncaring" since we won't keep her in the style to which she would like to become accustomed. My take is that she was sleeping in when we were scraping ice off the windshield at 5:30 AM to go to work. Frankly, I don't feel the least bit sorry for her mental issues or no. That's the one who in HS got mad at DW when DW spent $5 of her earned baby-sitting money on a new blouse and she couldn't have one too.
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Old 01-28-2015, 03:54 PM   #42
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We get many estimates for contractor work. Some will jack up the price based on our address and some will not, and of course some never show up or never send an actual bid after showing up. It is wild how big a difference there usually is in bids. Having the time to get many bids and go over them in detail has been a real money saver for us in our semi-ER.

Otherwise we just tell people we work at home, which we do part-time. No one knows if we work a total of 5 or 200 hours a week.
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:05 PM   #43
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We get many estimates for contractor work. Some will jack up the price based on our address and some will not, and of course some never show up or never send an actual bid after showing up. It is wild how big a difference there usually is in bids. Having the time to get many bids and go over them in detail has been a real money saver for us in our semi-ER. ........
Similar experience here. I think many contractors just toss on an extra charge to see if they can get away with it.
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:22 PM   #44
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I probably didn't help things. I just verified that our neighborhood will overpay. I just overpaid for some minor contract work on my roof.

I'm still w*rking and didn't have time to deal with multiple estimates for fairly minor work. Plus, damage was occurring. So, yeah, probably overpaid $150.

Oh well. He comes highly recommended and the work looks good.

When I FIRE, I look forward to being more deliberate about such matters.
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:22 PM   #45
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Wait a minute... You can get contractors to "ARRIVE"?
I rarely get anything but an answering machine when I call a contractor. And even then, rare is the return call. And it seems less than half that I actually talk to come out for an estimate.
I've often wondered if I've been blackballed. I've never outright told them I have an opinion of them somewhere in the range of used car salesmen and members of congress, but maybe they sense I'm thinking it.
My apologies to FIRE'd contractors out there, leave me a message and I'll get back to you to discuss.

Yep, no answers, no shows...

I had a "roofer" come by to look at the shingles and flashing around my chimney. He had to borrow my ladder... He didn't get the job.


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Old 01-28-2015, 04:35 PM   #46
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Similar experience here. I think many contractors just toss on an extra charge to see if they can get away with it.
We had one guy give us a a very high bid on some dry rot repairs and then said to let him know if we got a lower bid and he would work with us on the price. Isn't that like saying I'd like to charge you as much as possible but not a penny less?

We went with a company that had honest prices upfront and tipped the workers several hundred dollars extra as they did such a nice job, even on all sorts of extras that weren't in the contract.
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:09 PM   #47
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I had a "roofer" come by to look at the shingles and flashing around my chimney. He had to borrow my ladder... He didn't get the job.
Maybe I didn't overpay.

My guy had a ladder, tools, supplies, insurance, safety in mind and decent skills.
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:11 PM   #48
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There are all sorts of ways to jack up the price once you are into the job, and if the job is ongoing, it's hard to just say "Stop, no, get out of here."

When that has happened, I tell the truth on Angie's List and never call those people again. They may have gotten quite a few extra bucks out of us, but they've killed the goose and won't get any more golden eggs. They may not care during boom times, but in 2008 the contractors were crying for business, and they will again one day.
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:05 PM   #49
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Number 5&6. Last year I helped my mom who reportedly had problems paying for necessities with her "fixed income". I recently found out that I was played for a fool.


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Old 01-28-2015, 08:27 PM   #50
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Wait a minute! You mean we're supposed to notice and care what other people think? I've been doing it wrong, I guess.
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:54 PM   #51
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Marko's neighbor made me think of a woman we met on vacation last year. She was going on at great length about all the things government should do for people, and DW asked her how those new services would get paid for.



Her response just floored us: "Don't you understand? The government has unlimited money!"



This was from a woman who has a well-paid job at a college.

I used to work with a fellow who was constantly criticizing the government for spending to much. He had six kids in the public school system. Who did he think was causing all that government spending?
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:55 PM   #52
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I have since recruited my gardening buddy to be my "Elf" to give out small amounts to that mature person struggling to pay for all of their groceries or the waitress at Denny's who is going back to school. He goes to the Salvation Army to visit a friend who w*rks there and has already paid for a few small purchases.
He does the good deeds for me and tells me afterwards. He's having a blast doing this.
I have become my own "elf" in a way. Had a couple awkward situations where people told others that we did something nice for them (and I know they meant no harm).

Now when we want to help someone directly I either get a prepaid Visa or cash, and when delivering it I just say "I was asked to get this to you and not disclose who it was."

It's truthful - my wife and I discuss if we're going to help, if we agree then she tells me to give them the money and not tell them the source.
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:43 PM   #53
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I used to work with a fellow who was constantly criticizing the government for spending to much. He had six kids in the public school system. Who did he think was causing all that government spending?
Good example of how messed up our tax system is. Each of those children are a tax deduction, yet, they create extra government expenses. I don't understand why children are tax deductible (and I have kids, so I'm not coming from that angle). If we are going to use 'income' as the measure of taxes paid, then pay based on your income. Having kids or not is your business.

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Old 01-29-2015, 12:19 AM   #54
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I have become my own "elf" in a way. Had a couple awkward situations where people told others that we did something nice for them (and I know they meant no harm).

Now when we want to help someone directly I either get a prepaid Visa or cash, and when delivering it I just say "I was asked to get this to you and not disclose who it was."

It's truthful - my wife and I discuss if we're going to help, if we agree then she tells me to give them the money and not tell them the source.
"Elf"-ing is a good thing to do. Instead of writing a blanket check to god-knows-where or god-knows-who, it's fun to have a trusted buddy who "Elfs" for you.

Generosity is a blessed thing. Carry on, friend.

I got "Elf"-ed many times in my younger years, struggling for bucks but w*rking my butt off for a higher goal. It's all good.
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Old 01-29-2015, 01:56 AM   #55
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Wait a minute... You can get contractors to "ARRIVE"?
I rarely get anything but an answering machine when I call a contractor. And even then, rare is the return call. And it seems less than half that I actually talk to come out for an estimate.
I've often wondered if I've been blackballed. I've never outright told them I have an opinion of them somewhere in the range of used car salesmen and members of congress, but maybe they sense I'm thinking it.
My apologies to FIRE'd contractors out there, leave me a message and I'll get back to you to discuss.
Being a contractor in a skilled trade I may be able to offer an explanation as to why some contractors do the things they do. You never want to tell a contractor that you are getting several bids or estimates. This is huge turn off, simply say that you are thinking of doing a project and are looking for a professional to do the job. Why would I want to come out and educate you on how your project needs to be done, share my ideas, spend all of the time to properly estimate the job, put it in a form that you can understand, then present it to you when you have already done this wasting the time of numerous other people? If I feel like I have a legitimate chance at getting the job and the customer doesn't talk down to me like I am a used car salesman or a member of congress I will do whatever I can to get the job.

My business has been thriving since I started 17 years ago. I still find it amazing how busy I am every day. One day recently I had 87 phone calls on my cell phone. We are a small company and I still where my tool belt every day. If my phone rings that many times of course I don't have time to answer it and still be productive. If you combine the amount of calls with all of the other hats I have to where (accountant, bill collector, estimator, project manager, engineer, equipment mechanic, parts delivery etc.) its difficult to cater to everyone's needs; so I find myself taking care of the low maintenance customers first. If you call a contractor and he doesn't get back to you right away he may be just that busy or you fall into the high maintenance category.

Another way to increase your chances of getting a contractor to come out is to ask him when it works for him. This might require you to have a little flexibility. He might not bother to call you back if you want to meet up after supper when it's convenient for you. Keep in mind that he probably started at 5:00 am worked his tail off all day in the outdoor elements and might just want to go home, shower and eat rather than be all smiles for you until 8:00 that night.

I know from a consumer standpoint (especially ER forum members) it makes sense to price shop. However, from a contractors standpoint there is nothing more annoying than someone getting numerous bids on $200.00 job. I have had this happen to me several times. This is the type of project that you need to find someone you can trust by asking your friends, neighbors, coworkers, the guy at the hardware store, or whoever who they can recommend and just have them do the job.

In an earlier post someone mentioned how much money they have saved in their semi-ER by obtaining several contractor bids for each of their projects. This got me to thinking on how much I could lower my prices if I didn't have to waste countless hours, pay office staff, pay for fuel, have an estimating program. etc. etc. etc. just to do estimates. So, I basically have to charge more to cover the elevated expenses therefore everyone pays a higher price because a few need extra services. Kind of has a governmental type ring to it!

I cant say whether a contractor would change his pricing in an upscale neighborhood. It would be hard to compare cost of a similar projects in a lower class area because of the different challenges of each project. I think this is more of an emotional feeling. I wanted to charge one woman a little extra a while back when I was doing a project for her. I was working in her house in an upscale neighborhood, when she got home from work she walked in and asked if it was normal for "you people" to park in the driveway! Apparently she had to park on the street because I was parked in her way. I didn't bother to answer her and didn't charge her any extra.

I feel better now!
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Old 01-29-2015, 02:21 AM   #56
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Being a contractor in a skilled trade I may be able to offer an explanation as to why some contractors do the things they do. You never want to tell a contractor that you are getting several bids or estimates. This is huge turn off, simply say that you are thinking of doing a project and are looking for a professional to do the job. Why would I want to come out and educate you on how your project needs to be done, share my ideas, spend all of the time to properly estimate the job, put it in a form that you can understand, then present it to you when you have already done this wasting the time of numerous other people? If I feel like I have a legitimate chance at getting the job and the customer doesn't talk down to me like I am a used car salesman or a member of congress I will do whatever I can to get the job.

My business has been thriving since I started 17 years ago. I still find it amazing how busy I am every day. One day recently I had 87 phone calls on my cell phone. We are a small company and I still where my tool belt every day. If my phone rings that many times of course I don't have time to answer it and still be productive. If you combine the amount of calls with all of the other hats I have to where (accountant, bill collector, estimator, project manager, engineer, equipment mechanic, parts delivery etc.) its difficult to cater to everyone's needs; so I find myself taking care of the low maintenance customers first. If you call a contractor and he doesn't get back to you right away he may be just that busy or you fall into the high maintenance category.

Another way to increase your chances of getting a contractor to come out is to ask him when it works for him. This might require you to have a little flexibility. He might not bother to call you back if you want to meet up after supper when it's convenient for you. Keep in mind that he probably started at 5:00 am worked his tail off all day in the outdoor elements and might just want to go home, shower and eat rather than be all smiles for you until 8:00 that night.

I know from a consumer standpoint (especially ER forum members) it makes sense to price shop. However, from a contractors standpoint there is nothing more annoying than someone getting numerous bids on $200.00 job. I have had this happen to me several times. This is the type of project that you need to find someone you can trust by asking your friends, neighbors, coworkers, the guy at the hardware store, or whoever who they can recommend and just have them do the job.

In an earlier post someone mentioned how much money they have saved in their semi-ER by obtaining several contractor bids for each of their projects. This got me to thinking on how much I could lower my prices if I didn't have to waste countless hours, pay office staff, pay for fuel, have an estimating program. etc. etc. etc. just to do estimates. So, I basically have to charge more to cover the elevated expenses therefore everyone pays a higher price because a few need extra services. Kind of has a governmental type ring to it!

I cant say whether a contractor would change his pricing in an upscale neighborhood. It would be hard to compare cost of a similar projects in a lower class area because of the different challenges of each project. I think this is more of an emotional feeling. I wanted to charge one woman a little extra a while back when I was doing a project for her. I was working in her house in an upscale neighborhood, when she got home from work she walked in and asked if it was normal for "you people" to park in the driveway! Apparently she had to park on the street because I was parked in her way. I didn't bother to answer her and didn't charge her any extra.

I feel better now!
+ 1,000,000 and then some...


I have 2 trusted contractors who give me a fair price.

I do not jerk them around, ever. Time is money, after all.

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Old 01-29-2015, 05:22 AM   #57
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I know from a consumer standpoint (especially ER forum members) it makes sense to price shop. However, from a contractors standpoint there is nothing more annoying than someone getting numerous bids on $200.00 job. I have had this happen to me several times. This is the type of project that you need to find someone you can trust by asking your friends, neighbors, coworkers, the guy at the hardware store, or whoever who they can recommend and just have them do the job.

I feel better now!
Thanks, some good points. I think price shopping for small jobs is a real turn off for a lot of small contractors- we live in a rural area and travel time alone between jobs can make a big difference on a small job.

We're building a house for in-laws and I'm planning to use a couple of the contractors who did work on the guest cabin we built last year. Yesterday at lunch time, I left voice mails for the drywall, HVAC, and insulation guys that we were to the point where the house had walls framed so anytime they wanted to stop by to give me an estimate, it would be appreciated. 2 of the 3 were there yesterday afternoon and gave me what I consider reasonable estimates so they got the jobs. I kidded them about how slow they must be since they got here so fast and I must have over payed last time! One started explaining their business and costs to me and I had to tell him I was kidding after I listened to enough to feel his prices were in fact reasonable.

I think flexibility in scheduling can be a key for getting a contractor out to give you an estimate, since I'm retired, it's pretty easy for me to be the one to give a little on timing. As for raising the price for the neighborhood, I guess it might happen but I never did that when I had my part time business.

To the OP- I've really never run in to situations where I received comments about how lucky I was to be retired or how rich I might be- maybe they think it but the most common response was "good for you" or "I wish I was in that position".
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:35 AM   #58
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I feel better now!
And I feel better too!

You would have liked me as a customer. A $425 job and I took his offer on the spot, and he started work on the spot. All around we were happy.

I may have "overpaid", but so far I'm happy. He's happy. Etc.

However, on projects north of $2k, you can be sure I will get more estimates.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:39 AM   #59
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Being a contractor... <snip>

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Old 01-29-2015, 10:21 AM   #60
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We went with a company that had honest prices upfront and tipped the workers several hundred dollars extra as they did such a nice job, even on all sorts of extras that weren't in the contract.
So were the workers also the owners? Sounds like you tipped employees to do extra work for you that they didn't charge you for - but if that was the case, you ended up shortchanging the owners! Not fair at all to the business owners....unless the workers stayed late on their own time and didn't charge the business owner for time and used their own personal materials (which I doubt).
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