Cost of contractor - Posted by John08

Posted by RJ on June 09, 2006 at 17:47:25:

You are on borrowed time when using people that are not licensed and insured. $65.00 per hour is cheap. He is a legitimate business.

Cost of contractor - Posted by John08

Posted by John08 on June 09, 2006 at 16:28:46:

In the past I have used a couple handymen that were only $20-25hr. One does good work for $20 hr but is slow as mollasses. The other is not as slow but certainly not fast. Neither are licensed or insured. I have also used unreliable contractors that are in the $35-45 hr range. I have recently run across a guy that charges $65 hr, seems very professional, inteligent, and gurantees the work to be done on time. If he is done early he charges less than the bid he gave. I have good subs but have been so frustrated when it comes to a good contractor. Does this seem like too much to pay? Has anyone else used a contractor that happens to be more than normal, but stays with them because they are more responsible? My thinking is if he is twice as fast as my handyman it will be breakeven or better because of the less hours to pay someone plus less holding expenses. Any opinions on what a good contractor is worth would be greatly appreciated.


Re: Cost of contractor - Posted by Frank Chin

Posted by Frank Chin on June 10, 2006 at 06:56:25:


There’s several issues here, and it depends on the job you needed done, the size of it, and how soon you need it. I’m looking at it from the standpoint of a landlord.

  • What type of job you needed done?? For plumbing, electrical that needs propert licenses, the licensed guy would cost more, and will do it right, USUALLY. For something specific, like hanging a door, there are people in the phonebook that does nothing but that, charging by the door, and that includes 24 hour emergency service. Regular plumbers won’t clear clogged sinks and toilets around here any more, so we got to use “roto rooter”, or firms that specilaize in that, and they do it 24/7 and even on Xmas day. I called for one of these guys on Xmas Eve.

  • How big is the job. Many contractors will NOT do SMALL jobs. They price big jobs that normally take more than a day to complete at $350.00 per man day around here for the contractor himself, slightly less for the helpers. I was selling a house that was rehabbed, and had a large “picture window” put in, and a buyer commented how nice it looked, that he had one put in some years ago at his house but it leaked around the edges, and the contractor either went out of business, or moved. Couldn’t get a another contractor to fix it, as the job was TOO SMALL, he had to hire a another contractor to install a skylight, so the contractor will repair the leaky picture window also, in order for the job to be big enough even though he didn’t need a skylight. The window was fixed, but then the skylight started leaking, and couldn’t get the guy to fix it. I asked him what he plan to do. He joked that he might put in another skylight to get someone to fix the leaking one, or that’s why he’s buying another house.

  • For small jobs, unlicensed handman are the only ones around here that can get to it quickly and reasonably. I got one guy, named Mike, who’s with the “Local 3” electrical union here that does electrical work, AND other handyman work. Got doorbells that stopped working and electricians would hang up on me, or never show up on appointments. My regular electrician would claim he’s got a few big jobs and couldn’t get to it. Mike hops over after work, knock on my tenant’s door, and it’ll be done, and he’ll ask for $25.00. A tenant moved out and busted the railing on the stairway, and we thought it’ll be a big job getting a contractor having it rebuilt. Mike came by, looked at it and says it’ll take a few hours work at $25.00/hour plus materials, if any. I recall it came to a total of two hours, got to it that weekend, he didn’t need any materials except some nails he bought along. Sometimes with these small guys, I help out even picking up stuff at Home Depot, and that’ll reduce the cost. On other occasions, where the job required 2 guys, I cut costs by being the “unpaid helper” Mike installed a outside light for me, but the job needed a helper to “fish the wire” thru the ceiling and walls, and said I can save $15.00/hour by being his helper. I did, and learned enough how to “fish wires” that I was able to do it myself on occasion.

A word about insurance.

A good deal of the small repairs needed, such as repairing the stair railings involve health and safety issues, and most of the time, regular licensed contractors cannot get to it on a timely basis exposing tenants to dangers, which could lead to a lawsuit. So I have to decide it the risk is bigger with an unlicensed handyman injuring himself fixing a railing, like banging his finger with a hammer, or a tenant getting himself hurt waiting weeks for a repairman to show up. If you think of it, it’ll be more likely for a tenant to injure himself going up and down the stairs with defective railings, weeks after week, waiting for a “licensed contractor” to fix it.

And how about me.

I climbed three stories up to the roof of a rental to fix a leak because over the Xmas, and New Years holiday, I cannot get any repairman to plug a leak, and the weather man says heavy rains are coming.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, get a line on the samll contractors, and handyman thru your local hardware store, paint supply store, or recommendations from folks at church, or the senior citizens center.

One other thing I figure out through the years. A licensed contractor with nothing to do, that could get to me today is usually too expensive, or “has no idea what he’s doing”. I had one of these guys fix a leaky roof, and when it continued leaking, the real roofers came, they charged me extra for removing what this guy did, repair the damage, and do it right the second time around.

Frank Chin