Many contractors in the real estate industry are reluctant to come out and say the obvious: “You get what you pay for.” Instead they embark on a dangerous practice: to get the contract, many bid the job for a dollar amount less than what is reasonable to produce a quality product. This is dangerous not only for the contractor, but more importantly for the purchaser. If a contractor bids too low, he will most likely cut corners either on the manufacture or the installation of the product.
When a coop board rejoices that they got a “great” price from a contractor, it can often signal that there is a misunderstanding between the buyer and seller. The difficulty in writing this article is that many will perceive that I’m looking to justify higher prices. That’s not true. What I’m hoping to do is highlight some of the important things for boards to look for when making a purchase. The most important job we have as contractors is to satisfy our client’s needs. Sometimes that can be done very inexpensively. After all, not every building needs, or wants top of the line products and service. It is the responsibility of both the contractor and the client to clearly delineate what products and services are being purchased.
Time and again, I see lack of communication (whether verbally, or in the contract, or both) lead to misunderstanding that in the end leaves the board dissatisfied. At Ecker Window Corp., we diligently review every project with the board or owner before we start. We list, in detail, what the product and service will be, as well as explain the qualifications of the people who will deliver and install the product.
Boards and owners must insist on these kinds of details. A board can easily buyand pay for — the highest quality window on the market, but if it isn’t installed right, it will function as the lowest quality.
It’s essential for boards and owners to understand three facts: 1) What are you buying: i.e. the quality of the product and its features: 2) What are the credentials of those delivering and installing the product: 3) What is reasonable price for the product and its installation. In the window industry, it is essential for the buyer to understand the quality of the product, the guarantees behind it and most importantly, the experience of the men installing the windows after their purchase. The best manufactured window in the world isn’t worth the price if the people installing it don’t do proper job. During the bidding process, consider single sourcing.
All products are not the same and all installers are certainly not the same.
Single sourcing a job, meaning having the company who sells you the product, can have great advantages. For one, it can reduce the overall price of the job without affecting the quality of the project. Also, it eliminates any problem related to the product and its installation. Manufacturers can’t blame installers and vice versa if there is a problem on the job.
As well, you would expect a company who sells a product and installs it to know that product’s special features and any special installation needs. That will mean increased efficiencies.
Finally, all records are in one place. If there were special measures taken at installation, there should be a corporate memory of those measures on file. Quiz companies about this. It separates the true pros from the pack.
After 50 years of making windows, we’ve learned that quality begins in the bidding process and extends to the language used both verbally and in contract form. It then extends past the product to the installation and service. All of which add value to a building, value through communication.