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Working With Do-It-Yourself Homeowners

Do you offer to work with homeowners who want to do a portion of the project themselves? Or do you take a hard-line approach to construction project management?

I've encountered this a number of times on jobs, most recently it came in the form of one client thinking he could cut about half off the bid if he measured, figured, ordered and took delivery of all the materials. plus cleaned up the jobsite.

Cleaning up the site is something I always graciously accept help for but if I'm going to work with the materials, I want to be the one in charge of them. Otherwise, the job slows to a crawl.

This guy's misconception was that he decided he was going to spend as many hours with his self-appointed jobs as I would spend on the job. To him, this was equal to half of the amount he would pay me for my presence on the jobsite.

I almost chuckled but thank goodness I didn't. He was serious. If he spent 8 hours a day ordering, measuring and picking up trash, he wanted me to reduce my fee by half. I kid you not.

So we had a chat. I'm pretty easy going and I'll cut the paint or wallpaper fee out if you want to do that part of the job. I'll reduce labor hours if you want to clean up the site. But, you're paying for my expertise and I'm not going to cut my fee by half if you perform jobs that are very likely to increase my actual hours on the project.

We compromised. I would cut my charge for my lowest paid laborer, the guy who would pick up trash, on an hourly basis, as long as the homeowner could keep up (work-wise) with that laborer. In addition, the homeowner could order the materials, but if the wrong ones arrived, my crew pulls off and heads to another job. He agreed.

Yesterday, he approached me and asked me to reinstated the original deal with no reduced fees. It seems he pulled a muscle in his thigh and could barely walk. But that's not all. He also got his butt chewed by the manager of the local lumberyard for ordering and sending back materials three times. In the end, the manager (who is the sweetest guy on earth) charged him a sizable delivery and restocking fee despite the fact the guy ordered the wrong stuff and it had to be returned.

I enjoy my clients and I enjoy this guy. But I have to wonder how many homeowners think they could easily do our jobs? 

Build it.

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