My Client Wants To Get Their Own Materials!

not penny's horse

“No you cannot have a pony…”

I have a client that wants to remodel a small bathroom.  It is actually the second bath in the house, downstairs.  I went by Monday for our scheduled appointment.  The homeowners want to enlarge the sink area in this bathroom by knocking out a back wall.  There is an existing bedroom closet behind the wall, which will become half of what it is now.  It’s okay with them; its a small kids bedroom.

I checked the basement to see how I am going to reconfigure the water supply lines and waste line.  No serious issues;  I’ll tie into the old water supply lines, but will have to really give the drain line some thought.  Photo:

They also want us to re-tile the tub area with tumbled marble, install a low-flow toilet with heightened seating, add a new vanity, new fixtures, paint, and crown molding.  Basically a gut-job — which we recommended with new drywall.

We discussed the project time-frame, costs, and other minor details that need hashing out.  I advised them that I could start the project at the beginning of the following week, which was fine by them.

Then they dropped the “f” bomb.  They want to get their own materials. I advised them that in our contract we will present them, I will include an allowance for finishes that they could choose themselves.  But no they say, they want to go to the local Big Box home store, purchase their stuff, and have it delivered to their house before we start working next week.  They said they will save a lot of money that way.  That may be easy for them, but problematic for us.

Here’s some reasons why contractors should control their projects from start to finish:

  • The client buy the wrong stuff. I’ve been down this road a few times and choose to not take it.  I carefully pick my materials when shopping on behalf of the client.  A lot of times, these big box stores will take a returned item and put it back on the shelf for the next un-suspecting customer.  They’ll tape it back up.  Of course, it’s always missing something inside when you open it, or the darn thing is broken.  There are many different variables to consider in regards to measuring the project correctly, and returning a product that is not up to par.  That is why we mark-up materials to cover those hassles and unknowns.  We got the client covered.
  • I lose material mark-up. To procure, ship, deliver, and control materials for a homeowner’s project, there is a time factor involved.  The contractor’s time procuring materials is worth a percentage or part of the final product.  The goal in any customer’s experience with your company should be for them to relax; let us deal with any problems with materials.  It could be rather stressful for them if they must go back and forth with the suppliers if problems arise.  And they always do.
  • The project goes smoothly when you don’t give them a opportunity to mess things up. This is one of the huge no-brainers when it comes to contracting.  A lot of times, us contractors have a built-in relationship with many of our suppliers.  Whether it be the girl at the pro desk or the guy who bring materials to the jobsite, the process goes much smoother when you know who you are dealing with.  Also, we know what materials are crap and what materials are quality; we do this kind of work daily.

It is imperative to convey your services as a total-package experience when a client chooses your company.  Before letting the homeowner take the ball and run with it, let them know that you have their best interests at the forefront of your remodeling relationship with them.  They need to understand in plain terms that you’ve got them covered, and will back up all services rendered with an ironclad commitment: a well-versed contract.

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2 comments… add one
  • Robert

    It would not be an issue if contractors would use the Internet and give me a fair price on the materials. I know what things cost, so should the contractor. That’s fair. Specially today where zero sales tax and free shipping is offered almost everywhere.
    I do agree that I should pay for the extra service when I outsource it to a contractor.

  • The Official Contractor

    Of course the contractor should know his costs. But if you hire him he should make sure to sell his company as a package with material and labor cost for a flat price to the end consumer. Home improvement is not a commodity — where you can buy services at a discount. Thanks for the comment, Robert!

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