You Get What You Pay For
Recently, I spoke with an electrical subcontractor who has wired over 100 homes for a mid-sized home builder over the course of the last two years. During that time, the subcontractor noted a gradual reduction in the builder’s electrical budget for their new homes. In speaking with the electrical subcontractor, he proposed the rhetorical question and answer, “When the budget gets smaller, what do you think happens? You install fewer quality materials…”
Instantly, I saw this as a profound statement that could help explain to home buyers what paying less actually means for your construction: Reducing the quality of materials being installed. Often, home buyers do not understand the differences in the quality of building materials installed in their homes. They may only experience that difference months and years later, after their warranties have expired, when subpar materials fail and have to be replaced.
Subcontractors, or tradesmen, are generally self employed men or women who have families just like you and I. They must earn enough money on each job for it to be profitable. To earn a profit, good tradesmen perform a service that falls within the scope AND budget of the project. So, when budgets are cut, what do you think happens?
To elaborate on our electrician’s thoughts about what happens when budgets are reduced, I would argue that not only do subs spend less on new installation materials, their overall focus tends to be centered around saving money on your project. This includes attempting to reuse leftover materials from previous jobs, cutting corners, and spending as little time at the job site as possible. All of these behaviors are not good for the quality of your construction project. To make matters worse, subcontractors typically bear the brunt of the blame by disgruntled builders and home buyers for their lack of regard. However, can we really blame subcontractors who have faithfully abided by the rules of engagement which calls for a lower priced construction project?
While this idea is not always readily apparent to the new home buyer or inconsiderate builder, thinking about your construction budget from this perspective could mean a world of difference for your satisfaction level at the end of the construction period. Some of the most hardworking, honest people are the tradesmen building our homes. It’s a shame that many times home builders and home buyers do not fully consider the implications of a reduced construction budget. Of course, it’s easy to complain when home systems fail and new materials deteriorate. But the truth is, paying more for a quality job upfront will, more likely than not, save you money in the long run, lend for a more enjoyable experience, and promote a greater sense of respect between honest buyers, builders, and tradesmen who work together for the common good of the community.
After spending years in the home building business and working on a number of custom construction projects, I’ve found much more satisfaction in budgeting slightly over the market and utilizing subcontractors who have a real passion for their craft. I genuinely believe that by slightly reducing the square footage of your construction to increase auxiliary budgets involved with the home construction trades saves money in the long run and makes for a far greater construction experience.
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