I'm going to hire someone to do some drywall in my house. I've had one
estimate so far and plan to have another done. The first estimate was for
$900, and the guy wants half up front and half at the end of the job. Is
that a standard way of paying or should I only pay for materials up front?
It's a pretty standard way of doing business. Check his
reputation/references to satisfy yourself that he's capable of doing the
work and that he's honest. Remember, he has to worry about whether you're
going to pay as much as you're worrying about getting the job done.
The greater a person wants down the greater his fear of not getting paid
for either being new or doing bad work. 50% down is to much. Go for no
more than 30 % - when the job is started. Ive only been conned by high
down payment guys. the 50 % ers
In many places, the amount to be paid up front is limited by law. In
Maryland, only 1/3 of the total can be paid before work begins.
The drywall company that I use wants 1/3 up front, and nothing else until
the job was complete. Even then, they don't ask for final payment until 2
days after the work is complete and I've had a chance to inspect it.
Some small-job, independent drywall hangers work live essentially
week-to-week, so it's understandable that they want the materials cost up
front, especially if they are giving you a good price. On the other hand,
if you are using a large drywall contractor, you shouldn't need to pay them
more than about 25% up front, unless they have some valid reason to require
more (for example, if you have bad credit).
For drywall work, the cost of materials is usually a small portion of the
total cost of the job, typically 10% to 30% of the total cost. If the
worker is insisting on payment up front, then work out a payment schedule
It normally takes 4 to 5 trips (over 4 to 5 days) to do a drywall job,
although for a small job, the finishers might use a quick-dry joint compound
that hastens the process considerably, making it into a 1 to 2 day job.
Here's an example of a payment schedule that I'd consider fair:
25% up front (to cover materials)
15% after drywall is hung
10% after taping and first mudding (might be done the same day as hanging,
depending on the size of the job)
0% after second mudding
25% after finish mudding
25% after sanding (job is now done)
For a $900 job, I wouldn't be willing to pay anything up front. Any
contractor who is stable is not going to need you to front him the money for
the materials for a $900 drywall job. Once you pay the contractor $450 up
front, he has no incentive to do the work or even to buy the materials. He
already has his money. Instead, he can string you along, promise to get to
it next week, then the week after that, etc.
Okay, so let's say it's a very small contractor and he can't afford to buy
the materials using his own money, and you want to give him a chance. Tell
him to place the order for materials in your name at his local supplier,
then you go to the supplier and pay for the materials in your name, and have
the materials delivered by the supplier directly to your home. Then you own
what you bought, and if the guy doesn't show up to do the work, you can have
someone else do the job using the materials you already own.
Another option is to arrange with the contractor that you will pay him for
the materials when he shows up with them to do the job. Then pay him
progress payments toward the total as he completes the job, and make the
final payment to him immediately when the job is done.
Again, if the guy can't afford to even pay for the materials up front, he is
working way to close to the edge of bankruptcy for you to be dealing with
And, what about the concern that a contractor might express about not being
paid by you. First, the contractor can always put a mechanics lien against
your house. As long as you are clear that you will pay him immediately in
full when the job is done, he should be fine. Or, you can pay him for the
materials when he shows up with them, then pay the balance in person
immediately upon completion of the job. A $900 job won't take that long,
but he will have to come back in stages to complete the taping and joints.
So, maybe pay most when most of the work is done, but hold back $100 or $200
to be paid immediately upon coming back and finishing the taping and joints.
When I contracted, I had a policy:
If someone complained about the deposit or the price, I didn't do the work
for them. I just put a X on the corner of the proposal, and if the person
called back, I would just say I was too busy to get to it. Someone who will
kvetch from the start will pick you apart on everything else.
I had a good record with the contractor's board. I had ZERO complaints in
nine years. If that wasn't good enough, they just needed to find another
You need a small job done, and you do not have the same leverage as you
would if you wanted a tract of homes or 500 apartments drywalled. If this
guy has a good reputation and does good work, I would give him what he
wants. Good drywall men are hard to find. I don't even ask mine what he
wants when I call him. I know he will do an excellent job, and he is in,
he's out, he's gone, and all he leaves behind is a very nice job.
On Mon, 01 Mar 2004 05:05:01 GMT, "J. Cameron Davis"
I'd tell him that you would like to pay him in thirds. 1/3 to start
the project and 1/3 when the dryhall is half taped/bedded and 1/3 upon
However, be prepared for him not agreeing to your wishes. It may be
better to have an honest/talented guy do the work on his terms instead
of a jackleg doing it on your terms.
I usually agree on 1/3 down, 1/3 when the job is half finished and the
final payment after the job is 100% finished. The biggest mistake is to
finish paying for an incomplete job. In all fairness, it's no good to
hold back the entire final payment for a couple of minor details.
Consider holding back $100 or so (depending on the total bill) just to
make it worth their while to finish. Just my .02 Mark
J. Cameron Davis wrote:
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