I have been a contractor since 2009 and I can tell you that not all contractors are created equal. In Ohio we have low barriers to entry in the contracting business. Unless you do electrical, plumbing, HVAC, hydronics, or refrigeration, you could be a contractor tomorrow. Those are trades that require a license in Ohio. You can check that on this website: http://com.ohio.gov/dico/ocilb/LicenseQualificationProcess.aspx ... So, literally, with no experience or licensing, you could call yourself a contractor tomorrow, as long as you don't do any of those licensed trades. The good news is that we have certifications that distinguish qualified contractors from non-qualified contractors. Contractors should register their business name with the state their doing business in. The main certification is the EPA certification, which qualifies contractors to work in homes built before 1978 where lead-based paint might be present. Other certifications include: HBA (Home Builders' Association), NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), and your local chamber of commerce, etc. If you live in a home built before 1978, your contractor should, at a minimum, be EPA certified because they have been trained in the best practices for keeping your family and pets safe from the hazards of lead-based paint. If your contractor is not EPA certified, then you have to question their competency when it comes to containing toxic dust. Beware, most small-business "contractors" are not EPA certified. EPA-certified contractors are hard to come by, considering the total number of "contractors" out there in Ohio. The trade-off is that EPA-certified contractors are harder to come by and come with a higher price because a lot of people want to hire someone with this certification, rather than someone who isn't certified. This demand adds to the EPA-certified contractors cost because they often have to hire a customer service person to keep up with the communications, so that you aren't left hanging.
When you're looking for a contractor to renovate your home, what should you look for? Is it the lowest price? Is it the most certifications? Well, what's most important to you? These days, most folks are looking for the cheapest guy they can find. Not everybody is in that boat, but most people realize that price usually relates to quality. I have worked as a general contractor and a subcontractor for several years now and still do on a daily basis because my real estate business hasn't quite taken off yet. I can tell you that to get projects successfully done and without a headache, you have to think like a contractor. You should be present when your contractor is there and available to answer their questions or have the job scope clearly spelled out from the beginning. Don't go on vacation during the job if there are any unknowns. If you go on vacation, you should be available by phone right away. There's nothing more frustrating for your contractor than not being able to get an answer from you quickly. Things always come up and you should get as involved as possible. Hire the best and most busy contractor you can find and offer your labor as a helper to lower the cost. You can pick up the materials. You can do demo. You can make lunch. You can order your materials online and have them ready for pickup so your contractor isn't waiting in line for hours at the hardware store and charging you for it.
I used to "sub out" most of my work until I ran into "contractor" after "contractor" that either never showed up, didn't communicate well, ran off with my money, didn't do good work, or all of the above. I do most of my own work now with my full-time sub-contractor, Kyle Leidenheimer. Occasionally, I will sub out a job to someone that I have personally worked with and that I trust. I had to start doing business that way because, I knew that if I continued to sub out jobs to flaky subs, I would fail and ruin my name. What I realized is that these guys weren't showing up, weren't communicating, and weren't doing good work for common reasons. The cheapest guy couldn't afford to get there because his vehicle was always breaking down, or so he said. Also, it turns out he couldn't afford to keep his liability insurance in effect because he wasn't charging enough.
The mid-range priced guys usually showed up but usually did mediocre work. They were nice guys who meant well but didn't really have the training or support to keep it going consistently. They would also rush through the job sometimes because they had to, otherwise, they wouldn't be making enough to stay afloat and pay their bills. Other times, they take too long trying to figure out the best solution. The best contractor can tell you what needs to happen from the start and can usually give you an estimate right away. The most expensive guys always did the best work, had insurance, communicated well, but sometimes took a long time to get to the job because they had so many jobs on the table. The most expensive guys were also the only ones to put anything in writing. The most expensive general contractors seem to have the best subs. I realized there is a cost to doing business the right way and that I'd be better off getting the training I needed and doing most of the work myself, so that I didn't have to rely on anyone else for a while, and, most importantly, so I could survive independently. Don't get me wrong, I would rather sub everything out, but I can't make enough to pay my bills that way right now and it would still be frustrating feeling out of control and depending on someone else. In that situation, someone else is running my business, not me. It would be like I'm crossing my fingers everyday hoping that my sub shows up and if he doesn't, then I'm screwed.
The most expensive contractors sometimes have logistic issues too but they communicate and get to the job ASAP. That's because they have a team that helps them stay organized and in contact with the customer. With those things said, I realized that it takes more money to be a responsible contractor and that I would have to charge more to stay in business. I also realize that timelines change in construction because, with old houses, sometimes you open a can of worms when you start a job. I started seeing that even tho the most professional contractors were more pricey, they still were busy all the time and working every day. The headache is also much less with a pro. Professional contractors know what to expect and know their value. They don't negotiate their price that much and there's a reason for that. Pro contractors prefer to work with clients who are willing to pay to have the job done right and not cut corners. Pro contractors go the extra mile. I can't even count the number of times I've seen people try to cut corners in remodeling only for it to come back and cost more in the end, or the job turned out mediocre. What does it really cost when the cheapest contractor doesn't show up for a week? More utility bills? Couldn't get your house on the market in time? Tile job didn't turn out so good? How much does it cost you when anybody can see that the job was done poorly? Wouldn't you sell your house faster if it had that "Wow factor" when buyers walk through the door? As a Realtor, I can tell you that, besides location, the "Wow factor" is the number one thing makes your house sell faster and over the list price, not a mediocre shower tile job with uneven grout lines, bad cuts, non-matching tile caulk, etc.
What's the moral of the story? Before you jump into renovating a home, investment or domicile, plan ahead and do your research. Find the best contractors, don't cut corners, get involved. If you can't afford to fix things the right way, then you probably shouldn't be in that deal anyway. It actually costs more to cut corners. If you plan ahead, then you have time to wait until a reputable contractor is available and you're not left hiring the first available "Chuck and a truck".
Author:Michael Heck Phone: 513-580-2295 Dated: August 3rd 2017 Views: 551 About Michael: I'm obsessed with real estate. I have rehabbed many houses for myself and others. I've been rehabbin...
View our latest blog posts in your RSS reader. Click here to access.
A word from Chris Russell, CEO of Plum Tree Realty:
"One of my greatest passions is to use our real estate business to help alleviate suffering in this world. So we take proceeds from Plum Tree to help orphans, feed the hungry, heal the sick and hurting, and to aid the homeless ... both in the States and abroad. We are not about "getting rich." We are about making a difference. So when you do business with Plum Tree Realty, you can know that a portion of your money is going toward helping those on this planet who are in need of help. Together we can make a difference!"
To help people realize their dreams in home ownership and real estate investing through the highest levels of broker services at the most affordable prices available.
Our Core Values:
Integrity in every relationship, decision, and transaction.
Truth in word and deed.
Hard work that keeps us ahead of the competition.
Sacrifice of our own interests for the gain of our clients.
Commitment to excellence in every task we perform.
Respect for all people.
Giving to those with whom we work.
Areas of Expertise:
Residential Real Estate Sales and Purchase
Commercial Real Estate Sales, Purchase and Leasing
Real Estate Investing (buying, selling, holding, rehabbing)
Property Management and Leasing
Putting it Together
Plum Tree Realty is a premier real estate marketing company focused on helping buyers and sellers get the highest level of real estate services. We help home owners, for instance, who have homes for sale in Mason, Ohio to price their homes in a competitive way since the market is growing in such a fast rate in that area. When a buyer is looking for West Chester, Ohio real estate for sale, we can guide them to the very best deals that are available, and we can give them expert advice as they make such a huge purchase. We cover all of the major real estate markets of the Greater Cincinnati including the following hot markets:
Cincinnati, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
West Chester, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Madeira, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Monroe, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Indian Hill, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Hyde Park, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Blue Ash, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Lebanon, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Loveland, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Fairfield, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Hamilton, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Liberty Township, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Kenwood, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
Mount Adams, OH Real Estate (homes for sale)
While some people search for homes according to the suburb names, others are very interested in the top school districts in the area such as homes for sale in Mason School District, homes for sale in the Lakota School District, homes for sale in the Wyoming school district, homes for sale in the Sycamore school district, homes for sale in the Monroe School District, and more. Our agents are highly-skilled in placing families in the best school districts in Cincinnati according to the desires of each family involved.
Of course, we also have great skill in helping buyers and investors find foreclosures, short sales, bank owned homes, and other great investment properties in the Greater Cincinnati Metro Area as well. Many of our agents are investors themselves, so they are great at helping other investors be the first one to the "golden egg."
We also have agents who specialize in helping families who are relocating to Cincinnati, Mason, West Chester, Blue Ash, Madeira, and any of the other regions in Southwest Ohio. It's great to have "feet on the ground" when you are looking to make such a move.
Plum Tree Realty has also become quite a favorite company for those who like to try to sell their home as a For Sale By Owner in Cincinnati as well. The reason for this is that we offer a $500 flat-fee listing to home owners who would like to sell as a FSBO, but they would also like to have a presence on the Cincinnati MLS search for homes for sale. Most FSBOs miss that exposure, but for just $500, we can help them get listed on the Cincinnati MLS and find buyers at the speed of ... the internet!
While most brokerages feel they have the best agents in Cincinnati, we truly believe that we are at the top. Many larger companies like Sibcy Cline, Remax (RE/MAX), Coldwell Banker West Shell, Comey & Shepherd, and others are at a size that makes it difficult for them to react to the markets and changing times at a great speed. Since Plum Tree is smaller, we are able to respond to market conditions rapidly and efficiently which gives us a disting market advantage. Remember: "It's not the big who eat the small; it's the FAST who eat the SLOW!"
Deal of the day! Check out Plum Tree's Deal of the day for January 4rd
"We have purchased 2 homes with Plum Tree Realty. We initially found Chris Russell prior to having even visited Cincinnati. He sent us many MLS's and we found our home while on our pre-move vacation in Japan. I probably looked at 15 or 20 houses with Chris on a few occasions. He coordinated the viewings well. He knew about the neighborhoods and which ones were being updated and selling for more. He gave me space to form my own opinion about the house, but if I specifically asked, he would lend his expertise. As first-time home buyers, we were very uneasy about the process. We would ask a ton of questions just to truly understand. Chris was very patient with that. He helped us through the negotiation process and helped explain the titling process when it overlapped with the deal. We closed in record time! We found the house and negotiated the deal within a week of moving to the area and were moving in 5 weeks later. When we went to buy our first rental property, I reached out to Chris and he referred me to one of his realtors who took great care of us. I don't doubt that the rest of the Plum Tree team has just as much integrity and professionalism as Chris and Mike."