We are considering hiring a contractor to demo, install kitchen
cabinets, do electrical work (possible additional 220 line for
separate cooktop), and plumbing for a small kitchen remodel. He
subcontracts the elect. and plumbing, and states all are licensed. We
are buying the cabinets and countertop/sink, appliances ourselves. He
works on a T and M basis, time and materials. Time cost is $115 an
hour for 3 men working. He estimates the job at about $6000-7000
total, but his contract provides for no max for the job. His
references are good. Small kitchen about 13 feet by 7 feet, galley
style. Floors and painting we are doing ourselves also.
What should one consider with signing a T and M contract?
Sounds too complicated, why is he subcontracting at all if you are
paying for T&M? I got a union guy to do my bath for $30/hour (from
scratch in basement where a plmg/elec rough in existed, no demo). He
charged me for 120 hours (in 3 weeks he was done), I bought all
materials as we went. No contract, just good references and he knew
what I wanted done. Bathroom was 18 x 7 feet, whirlpool, shower,
sink, toilet, ej pump, tiled 6 feet up the walls, drop ceiling, etc.
I did painting, hung and trimmed the doors, and hung lights, he did
all the rest. He brought a helper the day he had to set the tub and I
paid $60/hour that day. It comes down to trusing the guys
reliability, I question needing 3 guys on site AND subbing the plmg/
elec for such a small kitchen.
If he has good references, and you like the work he's done for others, I
think you give him your trust. If you try to micro manage, and pin him down
to strict numbers, you'll wind up with an adversarial relationship, and the
job will go poorly. If he is in fact a cheat, it won't matter what's written
on a contract.
Personally I wouldn't use a T&M agreement. He is supposed to be the expert;
he ought to be able to determine how much it will cost him.
Naturally he is entitled to do business anyway he wants and you shouldn't
argue about it, but should find someone else.
Possible additional 220 line? He doesn't know if he needs a circuit or
not?! Lose the flake now.
First, a real contractor isn't going to install customer supplied
materials. There's way too many pitfalls. From faulty material, to wrong
material, and everything in between. Who bites the bullet?
Second, exactly at what cost are the "subs" going to charge?
Third, $115 an hour for skilled labor for 3 people? Are you kidding me?
No company can charge that little including all tools, overhead, etc.
Sounds as if you've found a handyman & a couple of winos, ready to have
a bottle of MD-20/20 on you.
With proper care, a T&M contract is a perfectly reasonable approach.
The problem is, most folks don't know what to what out for (hence your
There's an article in the latest Journal of Light Construction about
T&M contracts. There's some good information in there about what to
what out for in these types of contracts. it's written for the
contractor audience, but the info still applies.
You need to have a cut off point. A maximum price. I suggest that you get
a few other prices before committing. A kitchen remodel is not an unusual
project that a contractor cannot give a firm price. A recent customer of
mine got a price of $27,000.00 from a contractor to remodel a kitchen in a
two bedroom condo. She wound up sub- contracting everything herself for
less than half of that.
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