You may think it is cheaper to provide the materials yourself, but it is not – therefore…

Jul 12, 2022 | 0 comments

Homeowners do not realise the problems that can occur when doing the simplest of projects. When things go wrong, as they do on most projects, both the homeowner and the contractor lose. For the homeowner, the money they save is eaten up by having to pay for the additional labour the contractor incurred. The contractor might have a tough time collecting payment for the extra hours incurred because the homeowner is unhappy, and they run the risk of damaging materials that someone else purchased (like cutting the base of a cabinet to accommodate plumbing pipes).

We charge up to 20% on materials and consumables we supply, and we understand that owners want to know why we need to charge a markup on the materials. Owners believe that they will save money if they buy their own materials and just hire a contractor to install them. Owners may have shopped around and are convinced they know exactly what they want and where to get it. They found the store or warehouse with the best prices, and they know exactly where and how they want it installed. They have heard (or they know!) that contractors are pirates. They figure if they supply the materials, they will not have to worry about you tacking overhead and profit on those materials. How hard can it be to find a part for a toilet? It is also fuelled by suppliers who encourage owners to buy their own materials. They would rather make the sale to the customer standing in front of them than hope the contractor will come back to buy from them.

That is why homeowners want to purchase their own materials. Now let us look at what they expect from their contractor. They will furnish the materials, and the contractor will not only install them but also guarantee them. They expect the contractor to install them in a good and skillful manner, regardless of the kind or quality of the materials supplied. Additionally, if their materials do not fit or look right, the contractor will need to tear them out at the contractor’s expense and put in new materials the owner will furnish as soon as they can get them to the job site. The Contractor will be expected to just shut down the job while they wait.

If, during the tear out of the owner’s materials, the contractor damages something, the contractor will be expected to fix or replace the damaged item at their expense. Sometimes the contractor will be expected to give a credit off the final bill because of the aggravation caused to the owner. Or worse, they will decide the contractor cannot be trusted so they order the contractor off the job and hire a “competent” contractor to finish it. The contractor will be expected to pay the difference and get poor reviews on social media. These scenarios may seem laughable but over 35 years we have been down this road many times. We do feel that potential clients need to be educated on what their responsibilities will be when they furnish their own materials.

If there are any problems with the materials you purchase, you will be responsible for not only replacing those materials, but also any surrounding or attached parts that might have been damaged or destroyed. Additionally, you will pay more than twice for the labour; you will pay for the first install, for the removal of the first install, then for the second install. All the risk regarding the materials is the owner’s. If there are delays on the works due to items not arriving or coming damaged, you will need to pay the contractor for loss of earnings. Anything to do with warranties or guarantees with the products you supply will be your problem to sort out.
If clients want a labour only job then why not just go down to the job centre and find a plumber there? But no, the client wants YOUR labour because you are the one with training, qualifications and a good reputation. And for all that experience they still want to pay you like the babysitter or ask you to work for cash and knock off the VAT which is illegal.

If the contractor provides both the labour and the materials for the job and guarantee it as they should or as required by the manufacturer, any expense for repair or replacement is the contractors.
Owners need to know the time that will be involved in getting all the parts together. However, owners think that “supplying all the materials” means telling you where they can buy the materials. And do they really mean ‘all the materials’ how about the screws, the silicone, the plaster? Clients tend to mean the big-ticket items and not the essentials and are looking for the contractor to bear the cost of those.

The client must get the parts, bring them to the work area, haul them upstairs or through tight places without damaging anything, check for missing or damaged parts, get them returned and replaced without holding up the job. If the contractor must be cancelled, you may be charged for this aborted work and find it difficult to get the contractor back within a good timeframe due to other work commitments.

Invariably when the owner supplies the materials it ends up costing them more and puts everyone in risk of a job dispute. If the materials supplied by the owner are of inadequate quality, and then cause damage to the property, the owner needs to claim off their insurance, resulting in increased premiums.

Any mark up on materials a contractor makes covers things like; insurance, staff training, paying someone to answer the telephone, vehicles, tools and so on. If a client really wants to pay labour only, they still expecting that labour costs to include the purchase and use of tools and consumables. So, it is not really labour only ever, is it?

Food for thought.

Related Posts

Quote or Estimate?

Quote or Estimate?

We spend a good deal of time writing estimates or quotes for potential customers.However, there can be a lot of confusion between the two. Contrary to what...