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Thread: Managing renovations - Self manage vs General Contractor

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    Lets say you're craving breakfast bad and you decide to go on a guided breakfast tour of Calgary with a bunch of random people and i only gave you guys dennys, humptys or mcdonalds as choices, then you guys all had to vote or pull straws to decide which one. While the straws are being pulled you have people who are starving and just want to eat so theyre just picking the fastest option without realizing how good the food will be. And since no one read the fine print of my tour i only list mediocre restaurants because i want to keep my costs down. While the restaurant is trying to serve your large group there are multiple people complaining its taking too long so the staff have no choice but to rush and are getting fed up too so service is going to suffer. Do you think you're going to have a good breakfast and would it be fair to say all breakfast places suck?

    There was not a thing you could've done differently because you live in a condo and when it comes to things like this your hands are beyond tied and you dont have the same choices as a home owner would.
    The issue with your analogy is that we did not start off with poorly reviewed, bottom of the barrel places (aka the fast food equivalent of GC's, if I am understanding your analogy correctly). Also, each of the 3 times this happened, we picked from a different pool of GC's, so the overall sample size was much higher. Each GC provided an in-person consultation with the GC manager (or whoever was overseeing the project), photo books of previous work, testimonials from previous clients, and referrals from the insurance company and the condo management company based on (supposed) good prior experiences. It's extremely annoying for both the management company and the insurance company if the GC is bad at his job, so it's also in their best interest to provide accurate recommendations where possible. Further to that, we did not pick the cheapest quote in any of the instances, and the price differences were significant. While we did not pick at random, we might as well have, because like I said the presentations were all identical and it's virtually impossible to do meaningful due diligence on dozens of subs from 3-5 different GC outfits, even if we had months to do so.

    My point was that in order to do any meaningful due diligence, I would first have to get a list of his sub-contractors, track down the actual individuals doing the work, and investigate each of them individually (finding references that they do not provide me with, viewing their work that they have not pre-selected, etc.) And that's just for one single GC - there were several we would have to do that for, and by the time we finished them all, they would probably have new employees because turnover is so high. Even without a time crunch, does that sound reasonable to you? The problem I had with GC's every time is that nobody you talk to is actually doing the work, and the people doing the work may not be the same people who did the work that their glowing reference is referencing, or their photo books are displaying. The GC manager might be the best, most detail oriented guy ever - but then they send in the minimum wage labor to do the work and hope people don't notice the shoddy work, or accept poor work because they don't want to wait another 6 months to move back into their home.

    You'd be in the same boat whether it was a big condo job or a single home renovation - doing meaningful due diligence on sub (or sub-sub) contractors would be incredibly difficult, not to mention extremely time consuming if you could even get their information from the GC in the first place.

    I'll ask again - if it was just me, and it was not time sensitive, what would you suggest I do for due diligence when evaluating dozens of different, individual sub contractors? Because talking to the GC or project manager themselves is worthless.

    Also what is your experience with GC's? I've talked to 10+ and used 3 of them over a combined period of approximately 18 months. You have yet to mention your own experience(s), how you went about sub-contractor due diligence, how long you spent on the decision, etc.
    Last edited by Mitsu3000gt; 05-14-2018 at 10:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CompletelyNumb View Post
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    I can confirm everything mitsu has posted here as being my experience with condos as well.

    The dude rebutting him is either just a troll, or has a lottery win of luck in his own condo.
    I think you're referring to me but i never said anything about mitsu's experiences being false lol I 100% believe him that he got screwed over

    My bad for using the bottom of the barrel places lol it was for effect bahaha My point is still the same though, you didnt get to go out and pick your own GC(You had to pick from a "limited choice" as you said) and you had a bunch of other tenants that were involved too. When people are complaining and just wanting things done the overall work quality has to suffer.

    If i was doing a big reno and wanted to hire a gc im going to come on here first LOL and then talk to friends. Once ive found 2 or 3 guys i potentially want to hire im going to google his company to see how long theyve been around and check out potential reviews. Theres a bunch of other questions to ask too but for me if i was doing a big reno im going to want to see a job thats near completion.

    To clear things up i am not doubting your experiences at all and the pics show horrendous work. All im trying to say is your situation is different from OP's because you live in a condo and you dont really get to make the decisions on things like this and with a bunch of other owners in the mix complaining and rushing things(like you said) theres no way the quality of work can be there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    I think you're referring to me but i never said anything about mitsu's experiences being false lol I 100% believe him that he got screwed over



    My bad for using the bottom of the barrel places lol it was for effect bahaha My point is still the same though, you didnt get to go out and pick your own GC(You had to pick from a "limited choice" as you said) and you had a bunch of other tenants that were involved too. When people are complaining and just wanting things done the overall work quality has to suffer.

    If i was doing a big reno and wanted to hire a gc im going to come on here first LOL and then talk to friends. Once ive found 2 or 3 guys i potentially want to hire im going to google his company to see how long theyve been around and check out potential reviews. Theres a bunch of other questions to ask too but for me if i was doing a big reno im going to want to see a job thats near completion.

    To clear things up i am not doubting your experiences at all and the pics show horrendous work. All im trying to say is your situation is different from OP's because you live in a condo and you dont really get to make the decisions on things like this and with a bunch of other owners in the mix complaining and rushing things(like you said) theres no way the quality of work can be there.
    So, you would do the exact same due diligence we did, but with even fewer GC's in the pool? I am not sure how you would be any better off. The GC isn't going to let you go look at a job that isn't showcasing his work in the best light (they may not let you on a job-in-progress as well, it would be too easy to be like "oh yeah, we're going to fix that - it's ongoing work blah blah blah). We had referrals, we checked reviews. The worst of the GC's currently has 4.2/5 on Google Reviews right now - that's pretty darn good for any online review given that most people who write reviews are unhappy. The reviews could be fake, but who knows. The guys who could not properly install my hardwood and had to come back more than 5 times before I kicked them out (the ones who wrecked my security camera and pretended to re-do my transitions) have 4.8/5 on Google Reviews with 64 reviews. We talked with each of the GC's for over an hour, specifically focusing on quality of work, how are disputes/issues handled, etc. (especially based on our prior negative experiences which they pretend to sympathize with) and they feed you as much BS as you can possibly handle (nobody would never say anything bad about their company anyway so even this process is borderline pointless). Further to this, I had individual meetings with them in my condo specifically going over the work required and setting expectations.

    The ONLY way I see that you can do meaningful due diligence with a GC is to track down every individual sub contractors work, randomly view some of their jobs that they don't direct you to, randomly talk to previous clients, and further ensure that those exact individuals will be the ones working on your property. That would be incredibly difficult to accomplish, isn't realistic, and they probably wouldn't even allow it. Beyond that, you're just taking someone's word for it one way or another, or viewing something that has already been vetted by the owner and guaranteed to paint the company in a positive light.

    I'll ask again what your experience with GC's has been? I have had 3 separate nightmare experiences doing more due diligence than you recommend, using companies with 4+ star reviews, personally meeting them, checking referrals, etc. Every problem is traced back to the bottom of the barrel subs they send in to maximize profit. The individuals I spoke with gave me the impression that they personally would do good work, but they don't ever set food in your place again. They give you the impression that everyone they work with does the same quality work, when in reality they send in the bottom of the barrel, or I imagine whoever will work for the least. I am guessing it's cheaper for them to do shoddy work and re-do some of it than do a good job once.

    I know you're not doubting my experiences, but you still haven't mentioned what your personal experience with GC's have been, and when I asked what due diligence you would do, it seems to be even less than we did. Even learning from the first two times we got burned, it did not protect us from a third negative experience. With so many people involved (dozens, with all the subs and sub-subs), there is only so much you can do for due diligence, and the more people involved, the more uncertainty there is and the more you are relying on word of mouth which is pretty much worthless when it's coming from the guys fighting for your business.
    Last edited by Mitsu3000gt; 05-14-2018 at 01:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    So, you would do the exact same due diligence we did, but with even fewer GC's in the pool?
    No, im going to take my time and look at a bunch first and then narrow my list down and when i get to a couple that i like thats when im going to spend the time to really check them out.
    I know you're pissed off and i would be too but you have to admit your situation is not the norm when it comes to hiring trades.

    I have no personal experience with GC's but my brother has built custom inner city homes using GC's and my in laws are just wrapping up a major reno using a different gc, there have been hiccups but fortunately they always get taken care of. Theres no way my bro wouldve kept building if he was doing this on his own because he owns a different company and same goes for my in laws.

    All im trying to say is not all GC's who hire subs are bad and do shit work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    No, im going to take my time and look at a bunch first and then narrow my list down and when i get to a couple that i like thats when im going to spend the time to really check them out.
    I know you're pissed off and i would be too but you have to admit your situation is not the norm when it comes to hiring trades.

    I have no personal experience with GC's but my brother has built custom inner city homes using GC's and my in laws are just wrapping up a major reno using a different gc, there have been hiccups but fortunately they always get taken care of. Theres no way my bro wouldve kept building if he was doing this on his own because he owns a different company and same goes for my in laws.

    All im trying to say is not all GC's who hire subs are bad and do shit work.
    Yes, that is exactly what we did - I still don't understand what your hypothetical situation is doing differently than our process of getting referrals, reading reviews, checking out prior work, and interviewing the project managers both collectively and individually in the affected units. We had long discussions on how issues would be handled, quality, etc - nobody is going to say anything other than what you want to hear so it's pointless anyway, but we did it. After that, we still did not pick the cheapest quote thinking that we might be getting better quality work for the dollar.

    Are you going to track down every one of the individual subs & sub-subs, get a list of their completed work, and randomly pick completed job sites to go visit? I don't believe that is reasonable or possible, and that would have been the only thing we could have possibly done in addition to what we already did. If they have any control over which jobs you get to look at, which references you can call, etc. they are worthless and you might as well just be taking their word for it. Online reviews, as I have seen 3 times over now, are just one small part of the due diligence process but cannot be given much weight. You can call someone from a year ago who was thrilled with their work, but how do you know exactly which individuals working for the subs did that client's work? How can you guarantee those same individuals will be the ones doing your work?

    Nobody has ever said all GC's are bad, so that much is a moot point. You have to admit that doing MEANINGFUL due diligence on a GC who uses subs and sub-subs is virtually impossible unless you want to go tracking down numerous different individuals, and then do that again for every GC you evaluate. Further, you need to then ensure that all the subs & sub-subs that you investigated are the exact individuals showing up to do the actual work. By the time you're done all that, some of the subs probably won't even be the same and you'll have to do it all over again. The longer you take to make a decision, the higher the chance that some of the employees working for the subs or sub-subs have changed. At some point you are going to have to make a decision and it's never going to be a guarantee. You can hire the best GC there is, but if one of their subs or sub-subs swaps out an employee for someone who isn't good and sends them to the job, you get poor work. Keeping track of a small army of people is probably just as difficult for the GC as it is for the client.
    Last edited by Mitsu3000gt; 05-15-2018 at 03:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    we
    And thats why im saying your situation will be completely different from op's. He gets to make ALL the decisions, where you had little to no say because there were so many people involved(condo board, condo management and who knows how many owners). You can also hire an amazing company but you throw in a bunch of different owners complaining about this or that and rushing things(as you said) you'd better believe work quality is going to suffer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    Nobody has ever said all GC's are bad
    I know that, were talking heatedly because you said all gc's who sub contract are bad and im saying theyre not lol see below

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    I would just avoid anyone who sub-contracts

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    And thats why im saying your situation will be completely different from op's. He gets to make ALL the decisions, where you had little to no say because there were so many people involved(condo board, condo management and who knows how many owners). You can also hire an amazing company but you throw in a bunch of different owners complaining about this or that and rushing things(as you said) you'd better believe work quality is going to suffer.



    I know that, were talking heatedly because you said all gc's who sub contract are bad and im saying theyre not lol see below
    I said that I wouldn't have made a different decision than we did as a group if it was 100% up to me. If anything we made a better decision because we had a consensus and were all on the same page. We as a board were the sole deciders of who we hired. I keep asking you what due diligence we could have done differently and you keep ignoring the question. Short of tracking down every individual working for every individual sub and evaluating their work on a random basis, I do not see how we could not have done anything more. People don't complain if the work is done properly, or if they do, they would be few and far between. I would have been thrilled with a 1-2 month turnaround time and proper work done once rather than a 6-month ordeal ending in a payout where not much is done and I still need to get most of the work done. Nobody was expecting the world's best work either, just a normal proper job.

    I have never said all GC's or subs are bad, you somehow inferred that from the word "I" which is singular and refers to me as an individual. We've been over this. Further, I went out of my way to explain that this does not apply to all GC's. I honestly don't understand how there is any confusion over that, it could not have been written any more clearly. I don't think you are reading my posts because you keep bringing up points that I have answered thoroughly, and you never answer my questions about the very things you are criticizing. If you can't even tell me how we could have reasonably made a better decision or what you would have done differently, I don't think you are the right person to be criticizing the decision we made. You also said you have had zero personal experience dealing with GC's and their subs, you just know people who are which is not at all the same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    We as a board were the sole deciders of who we hired
    Your board might have picked the final company but you guys were not even close to the sole deciders lol The real people in charge made the small list for you to choose from I do this very same thing with my kids, instead of me telling them what to do/eat i pre decide what 2 things i want them to do/eat and then give them that to choose from so they feel like they got the final say




    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    I have never said all GC's or subs are bad
    Again, you might not have said "all" but you cant tell me your post people doesnt imply that
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    I would just avoid anyone who sub-contracts (or sometimes even sub-sub contracts), as most of the time it is the cheapest, worst possible trade they can possibly find.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    our choice of "approved" contractors were limited, and I did not have the only say in the matter (most people just want it done ASAP and don't care about quality). If it were my own home (or if I had the only say) you can bet I would be doing 10x the due diligence
    Correct me if im wrong on any of this but what i gathered from your post was,
    1. you had a limited list of people to choose from
    2. almost all the owners wanted it done asap and didnt care about quality which leads me to believe that the final decision was more based on who could get it done quicker vs who did the better work
    3. you didnt do as much due diligence as you keep saying

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    Holy fuck you two. What more could possibly be said here?
    Double-meat sub dreams.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    Holy fuck you two. What more could possibly be said here?
    The subject hasn't changed to Mercedes yet, so the conversation has yet to run its course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    Holy fuck you two. What more could possibly be said here?
    Haha this is exactly what I was thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    Holy fuck you two. What more could possibly be said here?
    Not a damn thing lol im done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    Holy fuck you two. What more could possibly be said here?
    Yes, that has been one of my points. I've come to the conclusion I got trolled. He didn't read any of my posts or answer any of my questions, so shame on me for taking the bait.
    Last edited by Mitsu3000gt; 05-17-2018 at 10:04 AM.

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    You got trolled? Please explain how you think that when you say shit like this, unless i misunderstood and you were meaning you were all in agreement that you wanted it done fast and didnt care about the quality. Actually that cant be the case because you're complaining about the shitty work. Now im really confused.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    and I did not have the only say in the matter (most people just want it done ASAP and don't care about quality).
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    If anything we made a better decision because we had a consensus and were all on the same page.
    Im jobless and live in my moms basement so i have nothing better to do and dont mind to keep going if youd like.

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    I only hire GCs that show up on site driving a Mercedes.
    Last edited by never; 05-17-2018 at 01:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by never View Post
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    I only hire GCs that show up on site driving a Mercedes.
    Yeah, no "fully loaded" BMW's

    /Thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    You got trolled? Please explain how you think that when you say shit like this, unless i misunderstood and you were meaning you were all in agreement that you wanted it done fast and didnt care about the quality. Actually that cant be the case because you're complaining about the shitty work. Now im really confused.





    Im jobless and live in my moms basement so i have nothing better to do and dont mind to keep going if youd like.
    I'm done getting trolled (others noticed this before I did), you win. You strung me along for a good while and I only have myself to blame for that. Every question you are asking has been answered, you have admitted zero personal experience on the matter, and you have not answered any of my questions which I have repeatedly asked, so at this point you are clearly just trying to see how long you can get me to reply to you....it worked again I guess.

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    lol just read through this whole thread. thank you @Mitsu3000gt and @Rocket1k78 for the lolz

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    You cant take the easy way out and use the troll card lol
    I dont know how you could say im trolling you when you contradict yourself over and over.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    If anything we made a better decision because we had a consensus and were all on the same page.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    and I did not have the only say in the matter (most people just want it done ASAP and don't care about quality)
    So you all agreed you wanted it done quick and didnt care about quality?



    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    We as a board were the sole deciders of who we hired
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    our choice of "approved" contractors were limited
    Tell me again how it was solely the boards choice when someone above ALL of you gave you the limited list to choose from

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