JULY 16, 2020
Why it's hard to find a good contractor (and how we've fixed it)
When it comes to home improvement, finding a reliable, reasonably priced contractor is challenging. And when it’s a small job in a condo, it’s even tougher, unless you’re willing to pay a huge premium.
The typical explanation is that there are too few good contractors in Miami. Or that they will charge you more because you live on Brickell. This is a fallacy. There are plenty of great contractors in our community. So why is it hard to get good contractors at affordable prices?
Here’s the truth:
Your 15 minute switch replacement job, 20 minute shutter maintenance job, or your 30 minute hang-the-new-shelving-I-just-bought job - will actually take a contractor several hours even before the work actually starts:
He must first understand what the job is, and ask all the right questions to ensure that the project is as simple as you put it and that he won’t need to move furniture, move electrical, or encounter any other unexpected problems that will add time to the job. This is assuming that you actually know what you need. Sometimes you need a diagnosis first.
Even if he doesn’t need to come to you to provide an estimate, he still needs to prepare it and chase you to approve it.
Then he’ll need to prepare his documentation for your building: license and insurance certificate - which needs to have the building as the certificate holder. He needs to ask his insurance company for a new certificate for every job.
Then he must get your building manager to approve him to do work in the building, and give him dates when the work can be done.
Coordinate the dates with you (or play phone tag with you and the manager to re-schedule).
If he has any equipment or materials to bring into your unit, he’ll need access to the service elevator, which may be in use for a move or by another contractor.
And so on…some buildings have even stricter requirements, like Workman's compensation insurance, laying down hallway coverings when arriving, and taking them away when the leaving (every day), and others.
Bottom line, contractors, like all of us, are trying to make an honest living. In their case their most valuable asset is THEIR TIME. So, all of that time leading up to getting the work done is part of the cost of the job. Meaning, it will be passed on to the customer.
So, let’s dispel the “Miami has the worst contractors” myth. The good ones have loads of work. They will therefore prioritize larger jobs that are a more efficient use of their time and skills, with less bureaucracy, waiting times and headaches. It's just better business for them.
TO FIX IT, WE NEED TO MAKE THE PROJECT BIGGER
A larger job will make it worth the contractor's while to work with you, since the "set up costs" mentioned above are defrayed by the workload. You can make your project bigger by accumulating multiple small projects. Combine the wall you need to patch up with the switches you want to change out and the furniture you want to assemble into one project, and now you have at least a full day's work for your contractor if not more.
Now, if you are as OCD as I am, the wait associated with accumulating the work is excruciating. You really want that cool new bookcase assembled and in it's place right way! An argument with your husband will ensue, since he knows that you will pay top dollar for expediency and he is more frugal than that.
So this is how the idea for Honeyman came about: if I can't make my project big enough on my own, why not team up with others, and get my work done at a sane price?
The work that most of us need to get done in our condos is the same. Whether it’s AC or Shutter Maintenance, hanging a fan or pendant lamp, or painting a wall – your list of projects is likely very similar to your neighbors’. When we consolidate them and create larger ones, we get the attention of the good contractors and better pricing to boot.
We also take over all of the headaches of dealing with the building, scheduling, billing and payment. By automating most of this, we save them time, and save you money.
What we learned along the way was that contractors have their own set of hassles, but so do the customers. So we've simplified the entire process to manage the whole project for our customers from start to finish. That way, our customers focus on their vision, and the contractors on the work.