Is it generally less expensive to buy a part myself or to let a
contractor buy it?
This is assuming that I know exactly what part(s) is needed for a
repair, but just don't want to do the work myself. I have always
heard that contractors get lower prices than the general public, but
also that they then charge twice what they just paid.
I'm not questioning contractor fees here, just trying to figure out
the most cost effective way to handle these types of situations.
You had best check with the contractor first, many will not install parts
that they did not supply. Another thing to thing about, if the part/repair
fails more than likely the contractor will not give you any warranty if he
did not sell you the part, so you will be paying full price a second time
for the repair.
This is along the lines of "penny wise, pound foolish". I don't
know much about mark-ups and the cost of doing business for a
contractor. The mark-up
would be part of his business income, and hopefully, profit. If he is
good and trustworthy, I want him to make a decent living and continue in
business. If he is not good or trustworthy, I don't want to do business
with him. So, do I want to cut into his profit if I use his skill? No.
Do I want him to be hesitant to come back the next time I need him?
Hell, no. When the kitchen is flooded and I'm mopping up after a pipe
breaks, I NEED him. I can fix a leaky faucet, perhaps even install a
new one if I try. Never tried. After a three-week project - pressure
washing and painting our condo - my hubby gave the crew leader a $20
bill. Would have given all of the crew one, if we could afford to.
They were all top-notch, professional, careful, hard working AND polite
and friendly. We could not have asked for a better business experience.
My hubby was the building manager for our condo. We worked with the
contractor the full three weeks to contain the paint debris from a
previous bad paint job, protect landscaping, move vehicles, clear
patios, etc. "Worst mess we ever saw". I believe that. The previous
painter, whoever they were, had caulked around the outside of window
screens, rather than remove them, and probably did not pressure wash.
:o)When all was said and done, the condominium board took up the issue
of some damage to the fascia during pressure washing. The fascia boards
had six sections, previously rotted and leaking, that were further
damaged during the pressure washing. They should have been replaced
long before. Whether the contractor gave the board a break just to shut
them up, I don't know. When I called the same company about painting
the interior of our condo, they didn't want to talk to me. I didn't
send a "thank-you" letter, as I had intended, because I didn't know how
serious the issue was getting between the contractor and the "board".
The same condo board fired a great lawn mowing contractor because they
thought he damaged sprinkler heads and was "too expensive". They got
another, who soon raised his price to the same as the first one, and
provided about half the services.
My hubby and I did most of the interviewing and talking to paint
contractors before we got bids. I tremble at the thought of "low bidder
syndrome", but my gut feeling for the paint contractor said "this is the
one". He was all business, worked with the paint mfg. in the warranty
process, and seemed thoroughly knowledgeable. His bid: under $7,000.
Highest bid: $27,000.
Save a buck. Lose a good contractor. You decide :o)
It's really hard to say. I was going to post my experience but after reading
some of the replies I have come to the conclusion that it could go either way.
The relief valve on the furnace started gushing water so I was going to replace
it. Now while I got the right replacement part at Home Depot, the old part was
corroded on and I just could not get it off so I had to call a repairman. He
didn't charge me the full price because he did use the replacement part that I
Rose's Web Page Designs
Your getting into a sensative area when you start providing your own parts.
Kinda like going to a restaurant and bringing your own food ingredients for
the chef to use.
Most of the time a contractor can get a part wholesale and when he bills you
for it he will make something on the markup..
In addition to his labor costs, he may expect to make a little (or more) on
the parts mark up..
If you call around looking for a contractor who will do the job with the
parts or material you have on hand, your likely to have problems..
It would be another thing to purchase the material for a job, find out you
aren't going to be able or capable of doing the job.. The contractors run
into that all the time.. However he may have you sign a waver of
responsibility since he has no control over the quality of the part or
material you are providing.
Major appliances could be an exception to this. Not uncommon for a home
owner to find what he wants, purchase it and then hire a contractor to
install it.. The contractor knows this 'up front' and estimates the job
accordingly.. He may charge you a little more for the labor because he won't
be making anything on the mark up.
Something to think about. We just completed a light remodel bathroom job.
Flooring we supplied along with toilet changeout. Customer wanted a new
pedestal sink and faucet, they supplied. They had a faulty faucet. Yes
they paid for another install of the faucet. Had we supplied the material,
of course we are going to charge to pickup materials (who works for free?)
we would have replaced no charge to customer.
Generally I would suggest letting them supply the materials. In some
cases they may get a discount. You may not see the discount directly, but
the may become part of the overall price. They will be working with
materials they know and trust and may have access to materials you don't.
They know what they need and are more likely to buy what is really needed
which will save you money in the long run. It will also avoid any questions
of who is responsible if something fails the part or the installation.
I figure it's probably a wash in the long run. As others have said, many
contractors may not want to install parts provided by other sources. Sure
they mark up the parts, but that markup is part of their bid. It's a lot
like car mechanics, who get part of their income from the parts they sell
customers. Few of them would want to install parts they didn't provide.
As far as saving money goes, if someone did agree to install parts they
didn't provide, they'd probably have to raise their fee to cover the lost
revenue from the customer provided parts. Also, the warranty issue
mentioned is something to consider.
I used to use an excellent mechanic who's rate board looked like this:
Storage $X.XX per day
Inside Storage $XX.XX per day
Labor $XX.XX per hour
Own Eggs $XX.XX per hour
One day, I finally asked what "Own Eggs" meant. It was to install
customer provided parts.
On 28 Oct 2003 18:45:12 -0800, email@example.com (piggypot) wrote:
I did some computer work for an auto parts/repair facility. There were
3 prices associated with every part in inventory: Price A was what
you'd be charged if that part were included in a repair; price B was
'walk in and buy'; price C was for friends, neighbors, and loyal
customers. The difference between A and C was about 40%, as I recall.
And this was codified in many parts catalogues.
So, your contractor *may* be able to purchase parts more cheaply than
you can, but may also charge the difference as part of his profit (and
the trouble to go fetch it). If you have a good relationship with the
contractor, *ask* whether you can save by getting the supplies
yourself, and/or if he/she would object to your buying the parts.
On 28 Oct 2003 18:45:12 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (piggypot) wrote:
What part? How much will it cost you, how much will it cost your
contractor? It's an unanswerable question.
I'm a general contractor. I mark up everything by 20% on large jobs,
25% on small jobs. I buy tiles, for example, roughly 40% less than
a retail customer would pay; I buy 2 x 4's for maybe three percent
less than you could buy them at Home Depot or such.
Generally, I can make full markup and do the job at least five percent
less than it would cost for someone to act as their own gc.
The hook in what you're suggesting is in the warranty. I fully
guarantee workmanship and PARTS I SUPPLY.
If you supply the bathtub for example, we'll install it. But if
there's a problem with the tub (not the workmanship), we will charge
full bore retail to tear out the tiles, remove the tub, replace the
tub and redo the tiles. If I had supplied the tub, the whole thing
would have been my problem.
So the twenty five bucks you might have saved on an el cheapo tub ends
up costing fifteen hundred or so.
If you want somebody to do work in your home ... make sure it's
profitable for them. You may want them back.
I needed a sheet of good plywood for a project. The lumberyard said it
was $48. I didn't get it since it wouldn't fit in my car, it was
raining, and they wanted to charge for delivery. At the same time, I
had a contractor rebuilding my front porch. I knew he was getting the
lumber from the same lumber yard, so I asked him to add the sheet of
plywood to his order and bill me for what it cost. He charged me $40,
and said that he got a discount.
On the other hand, the contractor who is doing my bathroom advertises
that they will work with do it yourselfers. They quoted a Kohler toilet
at retail (I'm sure they were making some profit on that), but I wanted
a Toto, and got it myself for much less, and they went ahead and
I think that often in the trades, the tradesman will have a source of
high quality parts for decent prices, and it is much harder for the
homeowner to locate such quality parts.
SPAMBLOCK NOTICE! To reply to me, delete the h from apkh.net, if it is
I wont install a part that I didnt buy.
I wont warranty a part I didnt buy.
Contractors DO get lower prices than most..its called wholesale..Just like
the resturant you eat at didnt pay what you pay for the food you just paid
for...the grocery store didnt pay what you just paid for it, the service
station didnt pay the same price for the fuel you pumped in your car..
Again - not trying to be cheap or keep trades from making a living -
just trying, like everyone else right now, to save myself a few $$$
when money is tight. I have learned over the years to do a lot of the
minor stuff myself, but still know when to call for the pros!
Thanks for your input!
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