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No deck staining product lasts forever. But a quality brand will give you a lot more time to enjoy your deck before you have to stain it again. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jill K. of Los Angeles)
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Angie's Answers

?
Todd said it best.

An itemized list / cost breakdown, more often than not is used against the contractor when it is shared with other builders who will then beat it.

Good contractors use good people, and good people cost more.  Just the cost of having the appropriate insurance / bond can be the difference between winning a job or losing it ot a 'lower bid'.

It is the rule of three; there is Good, Cheap and Fast.  You can have any two:  Good and Cheap, won't be Fast; Good and Fast, won't be Cheap;  Cheap and Fast, won't be Good!

When comparing bids, it isn't the cheapest or the 'nicest' person you should select.   You should understand why there is a large price difference (it shows there are gaps in your design program or what you have asked for specifically, which means there may be arguments later).  If most of the bids are in line, and one is way high or way low,  you want to know why before dismissing or selecting them.

A price-only decision almost always costs more in the long run. 

Good luck!
?
There are two sides to this and everyone will have an opinion.  I can tell you that from a contractor's point of view a customer that is up front with me is much easier to work with and the entire experience is much more pleasurable to all parties involved.  If you treat your contractor like there's always something to hide from him expect the same in return.  A good contractor is going to take your budget into consideration and make recommendations based on that budget.  When possible, he's going to estimate the work 10-20% under your target to leave room for the unexpected.  With any remodeling work, there's always the possibility and likelihood that there will be surprises that will have to be added such as mold damage, improper existing framing, etc.  The cushion allows room for the project cost to grow without going over your budget.  If no problems are found and you decide to spend that money some of the final finishes can be upgraded or other projects added.

Another good arguement for disclosing your budget to your contractor is to save you both some time and aggrevation.  You may have a $10,000 budget and want $30,000 worth of work.  Wouldn't you like to know your desires aren't possible before you get your hopes up or spend money on design fees for plans you can't afford?  Likewise, the contractor doesn't want to put in the hours of calculating the estimate only to find out it was all for nothing or that he has to refigure for a much lower cost after pricing what you specified.

Be fair and honest with your contractor if you expect the same respect in return.  You'll get a lot more out of it with the right contractor.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX
?

Herlonginc's answer stated that it is not the contractor's job to pay for materials and labor to do the job. I say baloney - a reputable, established contractor has the funds (or a business operations line of credit) to "carry" the job between interim or partial payments, each of which should be keyed to completion of distinct easily measured mileposts in the job, and for a homeowner I would say should be in not more than 20% increments for jobs exceeding a week or so. For shorter jobs, then an initial payment, 50% completion, and completion would be normal. His cost of carry funds is part of his cost of doing business, and is figured as part of his overhead.Bear in mind when he is buying materials and paying labor, his materials he typically pays for on a 10-30 day invoice, and his labor typically a week or two after they work, so he is not really "fronting" that much money if you are giving him weekly or biweekly interim payments, on a typical residential job.

If he does not have the funds to buy materials (excepting possibly deposit on special-order or luxury items, which still typically are 10-30 day invoiceable to him) and hire personnel then he is a fly-by-night operation, and he should not be bidding that size job. You should never (other than MAYBE an earnest deposit of not more than the LESSER of 10% or $5000) let the payments get ahead of the approved/inspected work progress - typically payment should be 10-20% BEHIND the progress, with at least 10% retained at the effective end of work until final inspections and completion of the final "punchlist".

That promotes rapid continuation of the work, discourages the all-too common nightmare of contractors taking on more work than they can handle so they leave your job for weeks or months to go work on someone else's job (frequently to start that someone else's new job so he can get the job), and does not leave you out a tremendous amount of cash if he does not finish and you have to hire another contractor to finish the job. Remember, if you have to hire a new contractor to finish the job, he will charge you a lot more than the original bid to finish someone else's unfinished mess.

This may seem cynical, but having started in the construction business about 50 years ago and seeing the shenanigans that a lot of contractors pull you cannot be too safe. You have to remember contractors are like any other people - I would say maybe 10% are outright crooks, another 25% or so will pull a fast one or overcharge if the opportunity presents itself, maybe 30% will do the work but not any better than they are forced to, about 25% are good conscientious reputable workmen, and the last 10% or so are really spectacular - conscientious, fair, and efficient craftsmen. This top 35% are the only ones you should have bidding in the first place. Therefore, only get bids from long-term reputable firms (so you shake out the marginal short-timers with less experience and also generally less ability to finish the job on budget and schedule), only those that have good RECENT references, and preferably with excellent word-of-mouth recommendation from people you know and trust. That way, you are starting right off with the cream of the crop, so hopefully whichever one bids low should be a good choice.

NEVER start with bids, then check the references of the low bidder - why even consider a vendor or contractor who you do not have faith in from the start ? Get references and short-list you possibles BEFORE you ask for bids.

Low bids - that is another matter - commonly the low bidder is NOT who you want, especially if he is significantly lower than several others, which might mean he is desperate for work, made a math error, or did not correctly figure the entire scope of work. You want a reasonable bid with someone you connect with and trust - that is worth a lot more in the success of the job than the absolute lowest bid.

 

?
You should always get a set of print and pull a permit when remodeling you home. It is a good thing that you want to be involved in your project. I do have some reservation about the electrical work. There is a lot at risk with doing the work yourself. If the house burns down you will never get the insurance money, unless your a certified electrician. Now of days 90% of home fires are blamed on electrical problems because the insurance company is to lazy and cheap to investigate the true problem. Also find out if the city you live in will allow you to perform the work. Make sure you coordinate your subs to have the proper time and space to perform their job. You don't want people working on top of each other. If you order all you materials make sure everything is there before you start your project. Have your subs check for proper and full items to be installed. Make sure every sub has a working set of prints. Make sure you have all the demo done before your subs show up to work. Schedule your plumber first, do any final framing or electrical work while you wait for inspection. Electrical inspection next followed by framing, insulation, and wallboard. All subs must get a final inspection on the job before you (the GC) can call in your final inspection.
?
The answer depends on your contract.  If you do not have a written contract, you need to begin documenting everything.  Begin by using a calendar and marking the days the contractor started, worked, you had to speak to him/her about the work, etc.

Next photograph the work you feel is sub-par.  If work has been corrected, photograph it now to have a record of its condition.  If you have any "original" or "before work began" pictures get those together, too.

If you do have written contract, see what it says about warranties, complaints, failure to finish / comply, etc.  Holding the money may end up with the contractor taking YOU to court for the funds - you cannot just hold the money.  You need to document in writing what is wrong, what you expect to happen (be specific) and when it should happen by.  A good contract will explain if and how money can be held, how the arbitration or complaint is filed, etc.

You should also invite another contractor to come in and bid the work to finish the job.  They can confirm the quality of the work and give you a price to fix / finish the job.  This gives you justification for holding the funds and an option to finish the job.

If the contractor is not willing to fix the work or listen to direction, do not allow them back in the house.  A judge will ask you why you let them continue to do work if you found it unacceptable.  Take back the key or access to the building - you can also attempt holding any materials or tools as collateral if the cost of repair is higher than the amount owed.  Again, document what you are holding, its estimated value (google or ebay search), etc.

Finally, in writing you should fire the contractor and state the exact reason(s).  Document everything; if it is done in person after they leave make notes of what was said, agreed upon and disputed.  If you are satisfied that what you have paid is fair compensation for the work done, make sure this is noted in the letter firing the contractor.  If you feel money is owed, you will need to file a small claim in your local court.  Include the documentation you made, notes, letters, etc. when you file your claim so the judge will have a copy of everything.  Don't forget to contact the BBB.

Do not wait for the court date; go ahead and hire the other contractor and have the work completed.  Bring this invoice to court with you (file it before the court date if you can).  Bring photos of the finished work (again, file it with the court before the date if possible).  You must show what good quality work looks like vs the poor quality work.

Otherwise it will be a your word against the contractor and you will most likely lose, (the contract is a promise to pay for work) or even if you "win" you will most likely split the difference between the argued amount of money.  Also be prepared for the contractor to file a small court claim against you.  Same process as above, except now you will respond to the summons with a copy of your stuff to defend your reason for holding funds instead of asking for money back.

Good luck!
?
Yes, you can ask for these items.  Second Century Homes answered your question well - most contractors do not do a break down to prevent haggling on items that shouldn't be part of the discussion.  People sometimes forget to allow the builder to make money. . .  Builders also want the entire job, not the nickle and dime menu selected items - you may find the contractor says "Thanks, but no thanks" if you ask them to remove portions of the work.

The real question is why do you need this break down?  If you are thinking you will do the demo yourself to save money, you can certainly tell your contractor this - but I would be willing to bet once you buy or rent the tools, haul the trash to the correct disposal dump (many trash dumps will not take home building materials anymore) and clean up / prep for the new work - you will have spent more and delayed the project more than just letting the professionals do it. Plus, do not be surprised when they still have to do additional demo work that you didn't know would be needed to complete the job, etc.

Also keep in mind that cutting portions of the work out of the job to do later is not a money saving move.  You will find that the cost for the individual items go up when done seperately - the contractor has to come back multiple times, has to set the equipment back up, possibly pull seperate permits, schedule the work crew / subs, etc.

If you are asking for the break down to compare bids, then again, tell the contractors what numbers you want to see.  If you are doing it because you feel the total price is too high, have a discussion with your contractor; they may be able to suggest ways to save costs, etc.  Ultimately if you know the materail costs, and have the total figure, you can do a pretty good estimate of the percentage for labor and profit in the job.

It is your project and your contract, so you can ask for anything you want on the quote - just be clear on why you want the information so the contractor can work with you.

Good luck!

All Lumber Stores in 07762, NJ

Companies below are listed in alphabetical order. To view top rated service providers along with reviews and ratings, Join Angie's List Now!

1-800 Construction,Inc

655 Washington Ave.
South Amboy

A&N ENTERPRISE INC

56 BEECH ST
Kearny

ABBE LUMBER

200 Avenel St
Avenel

ABREGO Home Improvements

773 Maple Ave
Piscataway

AF Supply Quality Warehouse

1000 South Secound St
Harrison

Al's Shed World

186 Columbia Tpke
Florham Park

Alfano Renovations LLC

2105 Hwy 35
Oakhurst

Allied Building Products Corp

15 E Union Ave
East Rutherford

AMIGHINI ARCHITECTURAL INC

246 BEACON AVE
Jersey City

Ant's home improvement.

727 courtlandt street

Arrow Locksmiths

431 Clifton Ave
Lakewood

Arzee Supply Corp-New Jersey

27-33 Franklin Tpke
Mahwah

Atar Contractor

152F Kearsing Pkwy

augusta construction inc

8062 trotting course ln

Bailey's AW Homeimprovement

544 East 171 St 3rd floor

Bain's Point Hardware

528 Arnold Avenue
Point Pleasant Beach

BARG'S LAWN & GDN SHOP INC SVC

876 STATE ROUTE 33
Freehold

Barney's Hardware

1333 Hempstead Tpke

Bath Vision

8558 67th DR

Bethel Handyman Supply

34 Stony Hill Road

Blender Shop

4245 Duncan Avenue

Boss Home Repair

220 Broadway
Jersey City

Bradco Supply

101 Canfield Ave.
Randolph

Broadway Building Products Inc

574 N. Broadway (Rte 110)

BUILD IT GREEN! NYC

3-17 26TH AVE

Burroughs Hardwoods

943 State Highway 33 West
Monroe Township

CEK International

600 West 115 Street

CENTRAL JERSEY NURSERIES

18 HAMILTON RD
Hillsborough

Coastal construction group llc

2435 Hwy 34 ste 254
Manasquan

Coastal Plumbing Supply

2274 Arthur Kill Rd

Costco

20 Bridewell Pl
Clifton

COUNTY LINE HARDWARE

707 Bennetts Mills Road
Jackson

CREATIVE DESIGN CTR INC

4301 US HIGHWAY 9
Howell

Customers Kitchen and Bath

252-02, Rockaway Blvd. East

Designs By Jacqui

Englishtown

Dial Locksmith Services

81-46 lefferts blvd

DirectBuy of Indianapolis

8450 Westfield Blvd

Douglas Home Improvements

1450 Jean Terrace
Plainfield

DUBNOFF'S PAINT & WALLPAPER

873 BLOOMFIELD AVE
Clifton

Dutan Home Improvement

48-29 54th Road

DWC Construction

178 Ocean Pkwy

DYKES LUMBER CO

555 STATE ROUTE 17 SOUTH
Ramsey

Dykes Lumber Company

1218 Route 34
Aberdeen

DYKES LUMBER COMPANY, INC.

348 WEST 44TH STREET

DYKES LUMBER COMPANY, INC.

155 RAILROAD AVENUE
Closter

DYKES LUMBER COMPANY, INC.

15 SOUTH 6TH STREET

DYKES LUMBER COMPANY, INC.

1899 PARK AVENUE
Weehawken

Ed Herrington Inc

312 White Hill Ln

Ella's Design Studio, LLC

490 Mamaroneck Ave

Enterprise HVAC Supply

701 Main Street
Belleville

Everyday Locks

26 Harry van arsdale junior ave

Exclusive Creations

44 Meadowbrook Ln
New Egypt

Exotic Home Expo

2025 86th St

Faux Wood Beams

517-C Acorn Street

Five Stars Home Improvement LLC

100 Albert Ave
Newark

Fixtures Mall

1133 Broadway

Gamka Sales Co. Inc.

983 New Durham Road
Edison

Gango construction

335 hendrix st apt 1

GeoTech Home Improvements

2681 Pitkin Avenue

Gluetek

4720 3rd Avenue

GTS Builders Supply Inc.

4701 Veterans Hwy

H & H Building Supply Co., Inc

140 W. Webster Avenue
Roselle Park

Home Depot

930 Springfield Rd S
Union

Home Depot

2024 Palisades Ctr Dr

Home Depot

541 Kings Hwy Cut Off

Home Depot

55 Weyman Ave

Home Depot

601 Sprain Rd

Home Depot

150 Midland Ave

Home Depot

2501 Forest Ave

HOME DEPOT

656 RESERVOIR AVE

HOME DEPOT

400 PROMENADE BLVD
Bridgewater

HOME DEPOT

99 STATE RT 17 N
Lodi

Home Depot

785 New York Ave

Home Depot

3540 State Rte 66
Neptune

Home Depot - Linden

701 W Edgar Rd
Linden

Home Depot Inc

92 168th St

HOME MARK

414 STATE ROUTE 71
Spring Lake

Homeclick LLC

777 New Durham Rd
Edison

Homeperfect.com

25 W 38th St

HUSTON LUMBER & SUPPLY CO

3 FELMLEY RD
Whitehouse Station

Hylan Plumbing

2233 Hylan Blvd

Ibuy Stores

po box 1023

Infinity Wood Design

89 River Wood Drive
Toms River

Jaeger Lumber

1238 Valley Rd
Stirling

Jaeger Overhead Door

2322 Morris Ave.
Union

JIM WATERS CORP

4 BRINK AVENUE

jose construction

3558 crecent st

K V MASTER MARBLE

218 ROUTE 109

KASPA CARPET

8611 ATLANTIC AVE

KD Handyman Services

Bay Ave
Point Pleasant Beach

Kohler Company

444 Highland Dr

L N Grand 5 & 10 Cent Store

247 Westwood Ave
Westwood

Lacka Safe Corporation

400 Meadow Lane
Carlstadt

Larsen Home Improvement

115 Newbridge Rd

LINCROFT KITCHEN AND BATH llc

POBox 102
Colts Neck

Lotus Flooring

1382 Burke Ave

Lowe's

206 Route 303

Lowe's

2171 Forest Ave

Lowe's

339 State Rte 18
East Brunswick

Lowe's - Brick Township

520 Rte 70
Brick

Lowe's - Patchogue

825 Montauk Hwy

Lowe's - Toms River

1375 Hooper Ave
Toms River

Lowe's of Medford

2796 Rte 112

Lowes

727 New Jersey 440
Jersey City

Lowes

700 Dibblee Dr

Lowes - Howell

4975 U.S. 9
Howell

MAJOR HARDWARE SUPPLY LLC

589 POMPTON AVE
Cedar Grove

Major restoration

56-29. 68 th st

MANALAPAN HARDWARE

300 GORDONS CORNER RD
Englishtown

MARJAM SUPPLY CO

885 Conklin Street
Farmingdale

Marvelous Mailboxes & More!

N89 W16750 Appleton Ave

Melfast

18 Passaic Avenue
Fairfield

Metropolitan Window Fashions

799 Route 17 South
Paramus

Midway Logistics

201 Webster Ave
Seaside Heights

Mitchell Simon Co Inc

PO Box 147
Norwood

Modiani Kitchens and Interiors

46 South Dean Street
Englewood

Monmouth Modular Group

416 Higgins Ave.
Brielle

NEW LINE HOMES llc

404 OSPREY POINT DR
Brielle

New York CITY Electrician

130-31 Farmers Blvd

Newyork Lock Experts

311 East 105 Street

North Stelton Lumber

1354 STELTON RD
Piscataway

OT Construction

8520 Elmhurst Avenue

PC Richards

53 West 23rd Street

Premier Carpet & Flooring

2801 Brunswick Pike
Lawrence

Pro Home Remodeling

81 S. Main St.

Professional Kitchen Designers

124 Chestnut Way
Englishtown

R & R Redevelopment

28 Broad St
Eatontown

Reece Restoration, Inc

223 E. 74th Street, Store Front

RepairClinic.com Inc

48600 Michigan Ave

Resnick's Hardware

957 Broadway
Bayonne

Reuther Material Company

5303 Tonnelle Avenue
North Bergen

RICHMOND CHANDELIER

61 PORT RICHMOND AVE

Ring's End Lumber

129 Danbury Rd

SHUTTER SHACK LTD

150 WOODBURY RD

Sidcom International Inc

4460 Monticello Ave 2

SINGAC SUPPLY CO

1432 POMPTON AVE
Cedar Grove

SOMERS LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

30 FRANKLIN AVE.
Oakland

Stone N Counters South LLC

245 Hickory Ln
Bayville

The Home Depot

7509 Woodhaven Blvd

The Home Depot

1550 Old Country Rd

The Home Depot - Roxbury

281 Route 10
Succasunna

The Right Supplier

1731 E 172nd St

TileShowroom

Park Ave

Trade Fair Hardware

147 Sunrise Highway

Twin Wall Inc dba Modern Homes

2911 ROUTE 37 E
Toms River

UCPW, LLC.

82 parkway
Little Falls

Unified Window Systems Inc

299 Peninsula Blvd.

Unique Concepts

PO Box 938
07762 Zip Codes

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