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Help Renegotiating Income for Job

Cooper's picture

I am currently framing a house as a subcontractor.  I worked for the GC eleven years ago, when I initially got into construction.  I worked with this GC for about 2 years, and then quit and started my own company.  So for the last ten years, I've run a remodeling company that has specialized in kitchens, baths, and additions.  Two months ago, I ran into my former boss at Home Depot and he informed me that his partner was retiring and that he had more work than he could handle and wanted to know whether I wanted to run a job for him. (He subs out all the work and uses a "cost-Plus" contract.)  I am supposed to run a large addition for him starting next month, while he manages another project.  This Other project is an entire house (from excavation to setting appliances et al.) project that started 2 months ago.  The reason I'm writing this post is because I jumped into his current project as the framing sub., and think that I'm not getting a fair amount for my portion of the job.  According to my boss, the original framing sub backed out because he was stuck on another job.  I have framed master suite additions, and other minor jobs, but never an entire house.  Luckily, my lead carpenter, Roberto, has----so I thought this would be a win-win.  I would get the experience of framing an entire house, and my former boss wouldn't have to find another sub.  The problem is, i don't think the amount of money flat bidded by the former sub, is adequate.  Since I hadn't ever framed an entire house, I simply agreed to build the house for the amount the other guy bid.  There are several problems with this:  

                1.  The plans are incredibly vague:  They are so lacking in detail, that the architect has had to clarify in person several times, including the last part of the roof.  There is no way the sub could have accurately given a final bid if the entire process of building it, isn't apparent from the blue prints.

                2.   The bid sheet from the former sub stated that any extra work would be billed time and material at $45. My current boss seems to think that its a flat bid.  Not to mention, he thinks I'm going to help him install windows too.  The former framing sub stated on his sheet that window installation was NOT included.  That alone means that more money is needed.


Another problem with this job is that it's financed by the bank.  That means I don't get paid until certain portions of the job are completed.  He did a minor draw that netted me $8000, but that doesn't cover what I've spent already.  Payroll is costing me about $1500/wk.  I've spent $10,000 and expect at least three more weeks.  That means I'll have spent $14,500 and the total job cost is $21,800 for two months of work!  That''s not enough money.  This is not an easy to frame house; it has 8/12 pitched roofs with dormers, steel i beams and walls of windows.  


I don't know what framers normally make, but it's got to be at least $1000 week!  I make better money reglazing bath tile!


Now, my former boss does help us frame in the field, and I only have to pay for labor.  Still, I don't want to piss him off, but I need more money. I"m killing myself framing in 100 degree heat from 8:30AM-5PM  With labor burden, wear on tools, insurance, workers comp, and the headache of running a company.  I need more money.  How do I approach him about this?  I was thinking that since he makes cost-plus and that the bid sheet stated that additional labor would be billed hourly, that there must be some provision for extra work. He gets paid on top of whatever the subs bid, so he shouldn't mind a change order, right?


How do I tactfully approach him?  I want to get the experience of running big jobs, plus when he retires, I would get all of his clients/connections.  Is it better to take a loss on this one in anticipation of future profits? Or is it fair to expect to be paid fairly for the job?  I know it's my fault for blindly taking on a job I didn't research properly, but I wanted the chance to expand my experience with someone who is experienced..  Still, I'm tired of worrying about the money and having to use all of my money upfront and not have the expectation of being repaid fairly....


Any advice appreciated.  Will clarify any portion that is too vague....thanks to all for reading.....









I need advice from other contractors regarding renegotiating the cost of  for a portion of a project.  I am currently framing a house for my former boss.  

Cooper (post #204866, reply #1 of 4)

You're only option is to talk this over with the guy.

Don't be surprised if he's not pleased nor forthcoming with the answer you want to hear.

You do have recourse where the original bid states there will be extras and why.  The window install, well-while framing - we usually installed them. 

This is of course if you didn't open your mouth and say-"yeah, I'll do that" and inferred-for the same price.


You do say you wanted to learn how to run a big job-well, sometimes the tuition is a bit high.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Hope you understand what I'm (post #204866, reply #2 of 4)

Hope you understand what I'm saying and don't take offense. I worked as a framing contractor after years of working for other contractors as well as a good framing crew. Prices were pretty much set by the square foot. If you wanted to make more money, you had to go faster and be more efficient. Working for the framing crew taught me a lot of time saving practices without sacrificing quality. We were able to complete jobs right next door to other framers in half the time. They were always complaining about money, we were not. Before I learned how to be efficient, I was hired and fired by a contractor that knew the difference. I was a good carpenter but I didn't know how to get the job done quickly and ahead of schedule. It took a few houses to get the system down but the difference in time was night and day. You can't expect to be paid more than the going rate or be paid for inefficiency. At one time I didn't know that difference, neither do many contractors I've known but there is a difference, a really big one.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

I'd probably go to the site tomorrow (post #204866, reply #3 of 4)

and tell him that you can make more money re-glazing bath tile, and are going back to that effective immediately.

It was an incredibly poor decision to agree to do it for the other guy's price. Never, ever do that again.

How do I tactfully approach (post #204866, reply #4 of 4)

How do I tactfully approach him?

Well, you see/call him and say "I've got a problem", or something like that.  After that the "tact" is up to you.  Admit that you screwed up, due to your inexperience and sheer stupidity.  Be as reasonble and considerate as you can be and hope that some of that is reciprocated.

(But I suspect you're really asking "How can I cleverly approach him?")

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville