I use HD's credit to buy now and use their money for a year, free.
Works out quite well (have $4K worth of carpeting on credit now).
I've done it with a half a dozen appliance and furniture stores too.
I even bought my wife a laptop and used their money. I like the free
use of money. ;-)
Good for you! I like to hear success stories. OTOH, it's difficult
to get someone, such as yourself, to give us the time of day here.
When they do honor us by agreeing to give an estimate they usually
don't show and *NEVER* call. Tradesmen generally *suck* around here.
I do my own work, when possible.
They spend a lot of money advertising showing happy people. They have the
majority of people convinced they have the lowest prices to the point that
they don't shop around any more. Given the size of the store, the same ill
informed consumer thinks the big box stores have every possible piece of
hardware imaginable and helpful "associates" will help them find what they
I've been to some plumbing and electrical supply houses that seem to have
the surliest of clerks that don't want to be bothered with the consumer that
has no clue what they want and they just re-enforce why going to Home Depot
is better. .
Reading this thread, not just your response Ed, but reading it got me
thinking about some of the replies.
I know a lot of people who don't hesitate to spend top dollar for
contracting work, myself included, but oftentimes we find a few things that
immediately turn us off.
1) The contractor has a great reputation and obvious talent, but the
personality of a pit bull and I personally will suffer subquality work from
someone less qualified as long as they have a decent customer face. A lot
of people that I know feel the same way. When we can't find someone
reasonably human, we then decide to give it a go ourselves.
2) To comment on what you said Ed, I know 3 electrical supply houses in my
area (50 mile radius) who will deal with someone who is NOT a contractor and
doesn't have a line of credit with them already established. So what that
means is that I have to go to Lowe's or Ace if I want to do work myself -
it's not that I don't want to deal with them or that they're unhappy people,
they simply refuse my business. Or, when they do interact with walk-ins the
help is so unfamiliar in dealing with single customers that their skills
immediately turn us off. Seattle Lighting is one store that I simply won't
do business with - simply because of the poor quality of their floor help.
Yet I know lots of contractors who work with them all the time.
3) For many people working with contractors isn't a frequent occurance. So
oftentimes we simply don't have any familiarity with their business, costs,
or schedules. I sincerely hope that I will have to deal with a contractor
at the most once a year. You aren't going to get any sort of familiarity
with them at that level of frequency - couple that with what I outlined in 1
above and you can see why people balk at using them or make what a
contractor considers an unreasonable demand.
I have all of those things, yet oddly enough, I find someone's
resistance to making a deposit, in full accordance with applicable
law, as a sign of distrust. This makes me distrustful. How do I know
that they'll pay me when I'm done? Because they say so? Hell, I'm
saying so, and you don't trust me? It's a two way street. I wouldn't
work for you with your attitude, and you wouldn't work with me because
I expect to run my business like a business. We're both happy.
It used to be that only larger contractors ran their businesses like
businesses. Larger businesses have established ways of doing
business, just as people have their individual preferences, and any
individual customer's wishes probably won't be enough to convince the
larger contractor to revise the way they customarily do business. As
skilled workers are harder to come by, and as contractor
sophistication grows (it's amazing how many tradesmen have college
degrees nowadays), repair and handyman outfits are adopting the
methods of the larger contractors because those methods are good
business practice, provide security for the contractor and they work.
People who are scared witless when hiring a contractor and don't know
how to protect themselves say such things as NEVER PAY UP FRONT. By
the time contract signing rolls around, the owner should have done
their due diligence and investigated the contractor and satisfied
themselves on their business rating, reputation at supply yards,
looked into their licensing and insurance situation and taken the
measure of the man.
Trying to use money to protect yourself is nonsensical. If you're not
satisfied of the contractor's ability, legality and honesty, you
shouldn't let them work on your house in the first place. A bad
contractor can nifong up your house very quickly, and do damage that
will cost you far more than the amount of the initial repair.
Repairing a bad contractor's work keeps good contractor's in work.
Let me see if I understand you. You want the contractor to front you
money (that's what he's doing when he buys materials for your job
before you've paid for them), but you don't want to front money to the
contractor. Does that sound right to you?
You seem to be assuming that a contractor doesn't have a line of
credit if he doesn't extend the line of credit to you. It doesn't
necessarily work that way. A line of credit from a supplier is for
the benefit of their customers. You are not the supplier's customer.
The contractor is their customer. You are the contractor's customer.
If the contractor uses a line of credit from the supplier, and doesn't
extend it to you, that now becomes a small profit center for the
contractor. Contractors are in business to make a profit. The
contractor can decide to extend the supplier credit to you or not -
that is their call, just as it is your call to accept or reject the
If an owner doesn't understand that a contractor weighs the value of
the job compared to other potential jobs, the anticipated income and
an owner's pain-in-the-ass factor, then the owner should not be
negotiating with the contractor in the first place. They should have
someone else do the negotiating for them as they are not in touch with
the reality of being a contractor and are not up to the task of
selecting a good one.
Note to the OP: if you're not up to the task of inspecting and
insuring the work that goes on up on your roof, and you don't trust
the contractor, I strongly suggest you find another contractor or hire
someone to protect your interests. Contracting is all about risk.
You pay for reduced risk. If you want full glass coverage on your
car, you pay for it. If you want to rest assured that the work is
being done correctly and the contractor is not out to screw you, you
will pay more for it. That's how it works.
I don't think they put any money out. That's the point.
Contractors who don't pay their bills have to pay cash, they
have to put money out. Needing money for supplies is a red flag.
Frankly, I've never had to assume anything. The contractor
has always procured the products I ask for and when the job is
done, I pay them. I would anticipate paying as the job went along,
but if someone is a roofer and they can't even swing the cost for
shingles and plywood, I would not be comfortable handing them the
few hundred dollars.
The number of assumptions in those four sentences is astounding. You
have not let us know how you establish that the contractor "needs" a
deposit as opposed to "wants" a deposit. You have assumed that there
is only one way for a contractor to do business - by using supplier
credit. What if the contractor only has an account at a place that
has higher prices? Who do you think ends up paying for that? Hint -
it's not the contractor.
Supply houses frequently give substantial discounts to contractors for
paying at the time of ordering and in cash. Supplier credit costs the
supplier. They're extending a short term loan to the contractor. It
costs the supplier money and it increases the risk for them. Nothing
is life is free - that cost and risk is added to the price of the
materials. They reward people for not increasing the cost and risk by
giving discounts. The same way you seek a good buy, a contractor
seeks a good buy.
You said you don't "think" they put money out. You seem to have
confused cash, credit and liability. I would imagine that you have a
mortgage on your house like most people. Even though you are not
paying all of that money at once, you are liable for paying all of the
loaned money back plus interest. As soon as a contractor places an
order, they are liable for payment of the dollar amount of that
order. If you ignore your mortgage payment, or the contractor doesn't
pay the supplier, the charge and liability are still there. While
cash has not been laid out, there's still a nice fat red mark in the
debit column. That's a liability. The contractor's debt goes in the
debit column of the accountant's books. That debit gets canceled out
when you make payment. Until that time the contractor is loaning you
I do not like the assumptions that the OP's roofer made, and said so.
We are not talking about that specific situation - we're now talking
in generalities. Saying "can't even swing the cost of" IS assuming.
I need to make a profit. That's why I am in business - to make a
profit. That doesn't mean I will automatically make a profit. I
don't need money to cover materials. That doesn't mean I won't charge
you up front for the materials.
When you say you "would anticipate paying as the job went along", what
do you think that means? When do you think the job starts? The
project starts as soon as the contract is signed and both parties have
agreed to the scope and price of the work, both are engaged in a
_construction_ project. Not a banking endeavor. I can afford to
cover materials. I won't cover materials. Why should I? I am not a
bank. I am not in the business of providing no cost loans. If you'd
like a loan to help _you_ swing the cost of the project, that's fine,
knock yourself out and talk to you local banker.
There are plenty of contractors who operate differently, and that's
fine as that is their business. However I do object to nonsense
exclamations like NEVER PAY FOR WORK UP FRONT as that is misleading
and will get nervous homeowners to throw out good contractors along
with the bad.
Shrug. I've had it go both ways, fixing up this place. The furnace company
wanted half up front, the painters wanted a token 'good faith' deposit, and
the roofer looked at me like I was an idiot for asking if he wanted anything
up front. So did the insulation guy. Plumbers and such got paid at the end,
and the flooring guy (who was after-supper moonlighting on himself, from his
one-man-company's day contract with the borg) got paid at the end, in cash.
(No, I didn't ask for a receipt.)
On small work (under 5-7 K), if I know the guy has an actual local business
location, and is in the real phone book, I'll risk paying front money. If
the guy works out of his house in a plain truck, him asking for front money
starts to set off my BS detector. Now if I ever do anything big where I have
to get the bank's help to pay for it, I'll let them make the call. I do
understand the concepts of draw payments at defined progress points- doing
the punch lists to meet the bank guy's checklist was one of my duties as a
kid. (Is the house 'dried in'? Are all the windows and doors set and
lockable? Is the permit board current and legible, with the proper
inspection stamps for each trade? That sort of thing.)
Only the derelicts and fugitives. Reputable contractors don't.
And I can see that you've NEVER been in business. Most companies and
businesses will NOT pay in advance under any circumstances. They will make
progress payments as stages of the work are completed, but they will NEVER
let the workman get ahead of them.
Steve, a former steel erection contractor, State of Nevada for nine years
I sold out for a handsome profit for nine years work, and went back overseas
for a few contracts where all I had to do was show up.
I was reluctant to do residential jobs because my commercial customer base
kept me too busy for that. It also payed more.
This would concern me. He should not need money from you
to get the supplies. From everything I have read, a reputable
contracter has a line of credit with stores. I have never had to pay
for materials up front like that.
Collecting a deposit does not mean the contractor _needs_ the money,
it's simply a standard procedure for most and is a good business
practice. There's risk for the contractor, same as the owner, so
collecting money that's being spent on the _owner's_ project only
makes sense. Whether a deposit is collected or not depends entirely
on the contractor, but the maximum allowable deposit is usually
spelled out by local or state law, so obviously it's OK with them.
The line of credit at a supplier is there for the contractor's
benefit, not the owner's. If the contractor decides to float the
owner, that's up to them.
Maybe, maybe not. Some small contractors do very good work, but are not
fiscally able to finance much of a job. It is also protection for them
against a homeowner that tries to stiff them. The guy that did my roof is a
god example. I gave him a third up front. Of course, I knew him by
reputation for a number of years.
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