I don't entirely disagree -- total cost is at the end of the day most
important. But if you are not going to give me true material and labor
costs, then why bother even splitting them out.
Also, knowing what material and labor costs should be (relative to
market rates) helps one identify a total bid that is either
unrealistically low or unrealistically high.
My stepfather was a very successful contractor. He quoted the entire job
and never broke down materials and labor. People that knew his work were
willing to pay what he asked. He'd never quibble over price either. When
you are good, there is no need to work cheap; you just walk away and go to
the next job.
I agree that if reputation is excellent and price quote is reasonable
then no need to break quote into part and labor. My complaint is more
against the deceptive practice of breaking up pricing into parts and
labor when the breakout is really into (parts + labor) + labor.
A bid is always a scope of work/bottom line issue. It really doesn't matter
what line items they list.
The only wild card is whether they finish on time and do a good job.
The volume discount on the materials may not cover the bureaucratic costs of a
company big enough to get top tier discount.
actually it would be more along the lines of
1)parts and expenses(relative to just getting to the job....including initial
consult, time spent to work up the bid, and time to get materials,tools and
workers to the job)
2)labor(which covers employee wages, taxes and hopefully a little bit of money
for the contractor to pay himself while leaving money for the business(I.E.
"I'm ever so thankful for the Internet; it has allowed me to keep a finger in
the pie and to make some small contribution to those younger who will carry the
air-cooled legend forward"
There's no deception involved. You can't seem to get your mind around the
simple concept that only the *total* price matters. How the contractor chooses
to break it down is irrelevant.
Suppose I bid on a job for you, and we agree on a total price of $500. Then,
when I present my invoice showing $200 for materials (that cost me $100) and
$300 for labor, you complain that I'm overpricing my materials -- but if I had
presented an invoice showing $100 for materials and $400 for labor, you'd be
okay with that???
You seem to not be able to read what I write. I have said many times
that I have nothing wrong with total price bid. Just if you are going
to break it into parts and labor, then you should do so in a way that
reasonably represents the two components. Otherwise, at best you are
providing useless information and at worse you are misleading me into
believing that your labor is more competitively priced than your
competitors and that the difference in materials cost is due to true
difference in choice of materials.
This is Turtle.
No Jeffrey, The only reason we are still talking about this issue is you don't
like the mark up on parts and material and You not being told about it. You want
like a hvac contractor to tell you he buys the condenser for $411.00 and will
install it for $1,200.00. Then you take that info and tell the next contractor
that you will give him $411.00 for the condenser and you think $300.00 labor
seems good enough and take it or leave it. The good contractor will walk off,
but the hvac hack will take you up on it and just throw it in and collect the
money with no warrenty. Then when you want some one to come fix the mistake. You
have to call the good contractor back which will charge you out your ass for
fixing it because your stuck with no warrenty. All good contractors know a hack
has been there by just looking at the equipment and we all think a like. If you
pull the price game on one contractror. They tell each other and wait for you.
If you was just screwed by a hack out of just getting bids from all. I / We will
try to cut the cost of fixing the screw up as low as we can.
If you think you breaking new ground on the pricing game , well son , it has
been done back in the 1950's till today and the result is still the same. 1/3 of
my HVAC business is just fixing screw up by Hacks and Pricing Game players.
Tuesday i will be replacing a split system on a $400k home that a hack put in
and was under sized & Poorly installed. The system is 3 years old and will pull
it out and install it correctly in his guest house and replace the main unit
with a new 4 ton 15 seer. Now the hack sure give him a good price on the system
but it did not work like it should have.
I know it is tuff on you have to be not told all the details of the job but the
world and the industry will go on without you. If you did not know it but your
the best help the Hacks of this industry has because of wanting to know all
price and not look at who is doing the job. The Hack's love Price Game player
for they can cut the price down to do the job without worring about quality of
the labor being presented. If all, customer really started looking at quality of
the installation. Hacks would just get out of the business for they would have
hell getting jobs.
Not sure where you are getting the above -- you seem to be either
unable or unwilling to understand what I am saying.
- First, if you have at all followed the thread, my primary
question was about how I can increase my odds at getting a
contractor discount when I am acting essentially as a contractor
(whether as a DIY or as a general contractor for my own own
job). In reality, I find that I sometimes get the discount and
- You and others then twisted this thread into a discussion of
contractor markup on pricing. In that case, I responded that
adding a large markup to materials essentially is a hidden way
of shifting labor costs from the labor to the materials
column. My point there is that this is confusing, potentially
deceptive, makes it difficult to compare true pricing, and
basically makes the labor vs. materials cost meaningless.
- In any case, I have always said that total price is what matters
(assuming contractors are of equal quality and job is the same).
Not sure what you are ranting about but this has *nothing* to do with
labor vs. materials mark-up. You seem to be saying that one should not
go with the lowball price because you often get what you pay for which
is of course self-evident.
Again, this has nothing to do with anything I ever said -- sounds like
you have some personal problems with this but not sure what this has
to do with me.
It is always easy to win a strawman agrument... the only problem is
that you are arguing with yourself. Again, I never claimed that one
should buy only on price.
The irony (which you clearly fail to appreciate) is that having more
transparent pricing for labor and materials actually helps in part to
minimize the problems that you are ranting about. Specifically, if the
pricing for materials and labor are accurately represented then when
you get a low price you can more easily analyze the following:
- If price of materials is lower, is that because the contractor
is using cheaper quality materials?
- If price of labor is lower is that because one contractor is
pricing too high or because one contractor is lowballing?
<< Any tricks for getting "contractor" discount on supplies? >>
Sure. Go see your lawyer. Set up an LLC or S corporation. Fill out the
state/federal tax forms. File the appropriate credit apps with your suppliers.
You are now a legit contractor. Pay all your bills before the 10th prox. and
take that discount, too.
Now go play by the rules. HTH
I'm sorry, I don't remember receiving the rule book in the mail :)
Perhaps you live in Cuba or some other last bastion of Marxism, but
here in the USA, there is no law against trying to get the best price
possible and there are no "rules" saying that only a certain
privileged group of citizens get prices.
Hope it makes you smile, that after asking for it, I started getting
the contractor discount at my local electrical and plumbing supply
store so long as I pay cash rather than credit card. BTW, I don't
remember the other contractors in line minding too much either.
Now take your sour grapes and go sulk in the corner!
That freedom goes both ways, as in the freedom of the supply house owner to
give discounts to whoever he chooses.
You don't seem to adore freedom as much when it isn't to your benefit.
That's not a contractor's discount, that's tax fraud.
Contractors might engage in the practice known as "deeds not words." The supply
house might not be aware for a couple of weeks that a couple of the contractors
who had to "wait on line" behind a retail or non-contractor customer who was
demanding a cash discount or the contractor's price, have taken their business
to a different supply house where the owner recognizes that time, especially
contractors time, is money.
All the building supply places here will set you up with an account if
you ask. Tell them what you are doing and how much you plan on spending.
They will probably give you 10 % just on your face.
If you are in or near a rural area and can use rough cut lumber (750 +
board feet) in your project, logs from a woodlot sawed with a portable mill
are lots cheap than the building supply store. Also, used building supply
businesses are a good way to save money, or find stuff for older homes that
is not manufactured anymore.
It all worked for me.
(Joe Bobst) writes:
My wife and I just spent the last two years building our own home. We
didn't even try getting "contractor" discounts on our building supplies.
Despite that, we often received contractor pricing on many of our larger
orders anyway because of the size of our purchases.
Also, we purchased many items at home centers (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.)
cheaper than some contractors prices.
In addition, we ordered many supplies (faucets, timers, special plumbing
and electrical supplies, etc.) on the internet and saved a bundle over
firstname.lastname@example.org (HA HA Budys Here) writes:
Of course freedom goes both ways -- if you only spent half as much
time reading and thinking as you do venting, you would know that I
have stated many times that no one is *required* to give
discounts. Rather, I will choose my suppliers based on who gives me
the best combination of service, selection, and price. The market will
then do all the rest...
I didn't realize that MC and VISA outlawed cash -- considering that I
got a computer receipt and paid sales tax, it would be pretty stupid
of them to not pass the tax on to the government. The reason they
wanted cash is to avoid the 2-3% MC and VISA "tax" on transactions.
Why do you assume that contractors are faster than I am? If anything,
since I am aware that I am a "guest" in this world, I try extra hard
to be efficient. In fact, it is usually the contractors who are there
asking to look at different things, shooting the sh*t, and holding up
Why do you have such a chip on your shoulder about others sharing in
some of the pricing and selection benefits that contractors typically
get? Is your precious contractor discount your only source of
self-esteem on this planet?
Where did I mention anything about your transaction speed?
What would you know about what "usually" goes on?
First, the last comment wasn't mine. That's from 2 posts previous.
Second, I have no problem with even an off-the-street retail customer
discovering the wonderous glories and possible savings that lay in wait behind
those forboding, unmarked cold steel doors. I rarely step into a supply house,
as my orders go into a machine.
I can only say this:
-It's not really a "contractor discount." What "it" is, is industry or trade
pricing, which is lower than retail because selling at the retail level is very
expensive. Retail requires those requisite markups to cover all kinds of added
expenses like advertizing, air-conditioning warehouses, theft and mistakes made
by bottom-of-the payscale employee zombies (not too many contractors waltz out
of a supply house with an extra set of French patio doors the cashier "forgot"
to scan, or have 6 pairs of antique brass hinges hidden in that 4.99 fire
extinguisher box) acres of parking lots, managers, assistant managers and night
managers and department heads, probably a whole lot more liability insurance,
-I detect that it is you, not me nor anyone else who has responded in kind that
has a "chip on his shoulder" about NOT getting a discount because you're NOT a
Possibly because you're a businessman, you're aware of options that many others
may not be or you explore different avenues in an effort to maximize your
bottom line. But none of that *entitles* you what some other businessmen might
It's the kind of thing folks get away with only because few people will press
for it. A lot of us were raised not to 'take advantage' - once too many people
jump on a discount that wasn't meant for them, the discount will no longer be
offered. Like how ice cream shops in areas with a lot of homeless won't give
taste samples anymore. A store will give Jeffrey J. his discount only because,
thanks to most folks' decency, they won't have a store full of Jeffrey J's to
I don't expect Jeffret J. to get what I'm talking about, or he'll answer with
some spin about how it's a free country.
Sour grapes from another lifelong loser who has no self-esteem beyond
his "precious" contractor discount.
Somehow this Banty loser doesn't understand the first thing about
economics or markets -- to him the world is one big "zero sum game"
where my getting a discount somehow takes away from him.
The good news is that the supply houses I now frequent are getting to
know me and give me that "contractor discount" with a smile. They are
happy for my business - most of the time I don't even have to ask.
You have to feel sorry for losers like Banty who have nothing much
else to live for in life than their hourly jobs.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.