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We use Google Analytics on our website. It tells us how many visitors we’ve had and what brought them to our website. We can find out what pages are popular, and what they searched for that led them to us. It’s a free tool from Google, one we recommend for every website.

We were looking at our analytics recently and were fascinated by some of the search terms that led visitors to us. It’s clear from some of the queries that many of our visitors are homeowners. And looking at their queries from just the past month provides insight into the things they are concerned about. Here are just a few of the more interesting ones. Hopefully they aren’t your clients:

  • builder is trying to charge me more for something he agreed on in quote
  • if a contractor gives you a bid on building something and you give the ok to build it and when its done and he says we owe him alot more money than his bid is, do we have to pay him?
  • billed for 2 men to do the work and quoted for hourly rate for only one
  • if a general contractor did not hire a laborer can they charge profit for them
  • common tricks builders use to increase the bill
  • obligations to pay contractors who have overcharged for a job
  • someone bid on a remodel contract and now they want more money
  • we signed a construction contract, then price went up
  • what can be done if a contractor you hired had given you a verbal price and when you get the bill it is four time higher than what he said
  • what options does a home owner have when they were overcharged by a contractor
  • do you have to pay what the estimate is if you find out the contractor overcharged for his services
  • roofer charged me more money then the work he did
  • contractor doesn’t want to return any of my money even though I know materials didn’t cost that much
  • can builder increase quoted price to cover profit and overhead
  • can a restoration company add an overhead fee and profit fee to my invoice
  • roof subcontractors used tricks to use more material
  • negotiate a reduced bill from dishonest contractor
  • contractor charges overhead when it is only one person

These help explain why the most popular page on our website is a blog post titled “Is My Contractor Overcharging Me?” (with a lot of comments).

The second most popular page on our website is another blog post titled “Overhead, Profit in Construction – Using the Figures Wrong Hurts Your Business“.

And our third most popular page is the article on Cost Plus Contracts, Time and Material Contracts. Many of the search queries support our first comment on Cost Plus contracts, “There is no universal definition of Cost Plus or Time & Material Contracts or billing.” For example:

  • should my siding company be billing me for ladder jacks
  • does a “cost plus contract” include cost of materials?
  • contract calls for cost plus 20% markup, does that include labor
  • what does cost plus mean
  • our contractor charged for labor he performed and marked it up 10 percent in addition is this usual?
  • can you cap costs on a time charge construction contract
  • defective material who pays for labour
  • how much increase is reasonable on t&m vs cost plus
  • who pays for re-work on cost plus contract
  • can you charge time and material without telling customer?
  • when a contractor is on a pick up for supplies is he still paid by the hour
  • is it normal for my contractor to charge me for insurance and truck rental?
  • if a contractor gives an allowance which includes 15% for himself and i purchase items does he still get the 15% ?

And a few search queries that might have come from contractors:

  • building material receipts do i keep or give to customer
  • how to price cost plus contracts

We’d like to share a few more queries. Some of them are legitimate worries about the contractor and the way they conduct business:

  • what happens if a contractor underpriced a booked job and walks away
  • what recourse does a homeowner have if general contractor quits and then demands payment of his last two days?
  • what should i do when someone tells me one price for a job and later tells me that a certain job was not part of the deal
  • a contractor is expecting us to pay added permit fees to an agreed upon bid
  • contractor hasnt shown up in 6 months
  • should you pay a contractor by the hour to redo house
  • is it ok to ask a contractor if he’s confident about his estimate
  • is 7% the industry standard for construction overhead
  • must one contractor do three jobs in order to collect overhead and profit
  • is 4% over residential construction budget bad
  • do contractors charge you additional for what they pay for material
  • is paying a demo construction worker by the hour a rip off

When clients go on the web looking for answers to questions like these, it’s easy to see why the construction industry has a bad reputation. A few of my observations (and I’d like to hear yours):

  1. It is very clear the contractors are not talking to their clients to explain how jobs go together or how the client is being charged.
  2. They don’t know how to estimate jobs. In my opinion, unless the scope of work has changed, or the client or a governing agency requests or requires a change to a job, the price quoted is the price of the job, period. You can’t come back and ask for more money, that’s just dishonest. (It’s possible I’m being kind when I say they don’t know how to estimate jobs. Maybe some of them are playing a game, quoting one price with every intention of asking for more after the job is done. Let’s hope not.)
  3. They aren’t writing clear contracts with enough detail to clearly explain what is going to be done, how, why, and at what price. In many cases, they aren’t writing any contracts at all.
  4. There are some pretty bad contractors out there.

On the lighter side, are you looking for a reason not to work with friends or family? Look no further:

  • should a relative be compensated for doing a large remodel job?
  • hired my friend as a general contractor and he is working really slow
  • my husband referred a friend for an electrical job, the homeowner didn’t pay him and now he is coming after my husband for referring him

If you have a sense of humor, you’ll enjoy these queries:

  • we are spending so much money on a remodeling job, should I feed the contractors too
  • rural contractors, do they make good husbands?
  • do contractors ever forget you didn’t pay
  • should contractors and workers use all my bathrooms
  • a contractor charging a client for his own personal drinking time

As you know, we do a lot of coaching and consulting work, trying to help contractors build stronger businesses. We hear stories about “wannabe” coaches and consultants, so we just had to share one last query:

  • how to start a coach and consulting career in a week
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