What your builder isn't telling you

When employing a builder for your next renovation project or to build your new house, you really have to do your homework before signing any contract.  It is very important to know, like and trust your builder, so you will have to do your due diligence to achieve this. The point of knowing them well has been reached, you like their personality and it aligns with your one, you’ve seen past projects and you know you can trust them, but there is one question often remaining unanswered: ” What isn’t he telling me“?

When employing a construction company for any building work, you are actually entering into a relationship with them. Depending on the size of the project and complexity involved, your project could last many months. During the construction period you will interact with them very often and this is where transparency becomes crucial to make this relationship work.

 Well, there are many things your contractor will potentially not tell you. It could be something like: “The quote I gave you isn’t real”.  Some contractors often intentionally underbid just to get the job, but don’t be fooled to think that your job will cost you less just because the quote is low. They have purposely omitted many items in the quote to make it more appealing to you, items for which you will have to pay for on the end. Another trick often used to lower the quote is playing with allowances. For example, the contractor knows that your kitchen will likely cost you $40,000.00 but his allowance in the quote for the kitchen is $25,000.00. Here only you have the difference of whooping $15,000.00 and guess who will pay that difference. This can apply to the bathrooms, lighting, flooring, appliances and many other areas of the house. The point is that those small things will not catch your eye because you are not a professional. To be clear here, all those items could be achieved with the allowance they provided, but the quality you envision, and the quality the builder has in mind are far apart, so this becomes another thing they aren’t telling you. If your quote isn’t detailed enough or you don’t look carefully enough, it is very easy to be tricked by the low price.

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As mentioned before, another thing that is not being told to you is that the quality you want and quality your builder plans to deliver has a significant gap, but you don’t need to know this. Well, at least not before it comes the moment to pay for it. Shady builders use this trick regularly to win the job and your project usually becomes more expensive than the highest quote you had to begin with. The contractor might have in mind ceramic tiles that look like stone, while what you want are real stone tiles. The same thing goes for bathroom fixtures and so on. There are so many different materials that contractors can cut the price on, but what about the workmanship? Are they planning to use cheap labor? Who are the sub-contractors? What quality do they deliver?

Another thing that very often isn’t told to the home owners is that the contractor isn’t really qualified for the work they require or that they have no or very little experience in this type of work. There are many builders that will take on just about any job and there are builders who won’t. What is the reason? Well, some builders are jack of all trades but masters of none, while others specialize in one or just a few things where they deliver outstanding results and a great value for their customers. As it is obvious that, based on this difference only, the price and the outcome will be very different, so why should they tell you this?

How about “I really don’t like answering your phone calls or emails while I am working on your project”? It could be that you are taking some very important decisions, or you are buying a specific product, but you are not sure what impact it might have on the project or how it will go along with other products or features you have. At this moment you need urgent advice from the builder, but he isn’t a good communicator and you are let down, once again.  It might be that you were very busy with your work for a whole week and you are just looking for an update on the progress.  Some might take the inappropriate approach that you don’t need regular updates because you will see the house once it has been finished.

So, when you are on the verge to decide which contractor you will choose for your next project, you must have the confidence that everything has been disclosed to you and no question marks are left unanswered. Even a smallest unanswered  question that seemed insignificant in the beginning can potentially turn the whole project into a nightmare in the end. Remember that you have to trust your own gut feeling and if you are still haunted by the question “ What isn’t he telling me“? it is a major red flag and the perfect indicator that you should be looking for another builder.

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