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Why don't builders, construction contractors or floor layers want to do small jobs?

You need a contractor or tradesman to do a small job and you just cannot seem to fins anyone to do it or if they agree they don't turn up. Why is this?


As a floor laying company we hear this from potential clients all the time. 

Here is the short version

1. It will take longer than you think and you will argue with the contractor as to why
2. It will cost more than you think because it will take longer than you think and you will feel that you are being ripped off
2. The contractor doesn't want the hassle of justifying their costs to you so they just say 'no'

The long version 

The prospect calls and says 'Hi, I hope you can help I have been let down by my contractor to do a really small job and I can't seem to find anyone who wants to do it?'.
So, I can imagine how frustrating this is for the homeowner who just wants to get the job done and they are happy to pay a fair price for it and understand it has to be done on a day rate.
And they just can't understand why no-one will do it.

So let me answer this in a comprehensive way, and bare in mind I am not talking about handyman jobs like putting up pictures, that is a different profession.

1. The client just has no idea how long a job will take to complete

Most 'small' jobs are small because the amount of space being worked on is small. However, that really doesn't have any relevance to how large the task is. So let's take an example of a bathroom floor. Someone who wants a new LVP (luxury Vinyl Plank) floor like Amtico or Karndean in a small bathroom. In the customers mind this will take half a day to do, they are 'willing' to pay a day's rate for it and they feel jolly generous for that too. The reality is that depending on the floor this is could be a 2 day job, regardless of the size of the bathroom. So a 2m2 bathroom will cost the same in labour as a 10m2 bathroom. 

The reason for that is the existing bathroom floor will have to be removed, then maybe a new latex floor needs to be installed, this needs time to dry so come back tomorrow, sand it down and fit the Amtico. Maybe it takes 1.5 days but what will the contractor do with the spare half a day once they have cleaned up and got back home? Take on another 'small' job? And remember the materials have to be ordered, in some cases collected, delivered to your property, loaded on and off the van. All take time behind the scenes and this is not actually what you see at your property.

The result is a 2 day job that will cost the client a minimum of $600 for labour (for a one man band), $800 to $1200 for an established business + materials which may vcome to ovwer $250 just for a 2m2 bathroom. Ballpark $1250 + tax just for this small amount of space.

2. The client thinks they know how long the job will take

When you call someone up and actually tell them 'its a small job', 'it won't take you long', 'you'll be in-and-out in no time but I know you have costs so I am happy to pay day rate',  you have pretty much sealed your fate right there. Your average contractor at this point will probably tell you they are busy or they can't do the job.

This is because you have now told the contractor that you have pre-conceived ideas of the time and the cost of the job so when he tells you how long it really will take and how much it will cost, you will be shocked and you will be irritated. That is completely normal and human. Because your expectations will be so far from the reality, you will naturally assume that although you have appealed to his good nature by telling him you had a problem and by asking for his help, he has now realized you are vulnerable and wants to take advantage of you. This is why you have been quoted an outrageous price for this 'small' job and he is trying to con you. 

I know this is the case. I deal with this scenario 2 or 3 times a week. And no matter how nice you are explaining it why it costs this much and going through the steps, chances are that the customer will still think they are being taken for a ride and not go ahead.

So most people (and contractors are no different) do not want confrontation. And the tone that the customer often uses (because they are genuinely shocked) means the contractor gets defensive and feels they are being put on the spot to justify the prices they charge and it is an uncomfortable situation. So, it is just easier to say 'no, sorry, too small, I can't help'.

3. The client has no idea what a 'fair price' is

So, most people work in the corporate world or for some other company and they literally have no idea about what that business is effectively charging them out for their services. Obviously, a lot of the time the client feels that they get paid more than the contractor, they should do because they are a white collar worker and contractors are blue collar and they are more valuable. I don't care if you are lying to yourself, that you think that this is not the case or you genuinely don't feel like that but the vast majority do. So, they think to themselves 'This contractor is charging more than I get paid! This cannot be right, he thinks I am a mug'.

But let's say that you are paid $50K per annum. Your company has costs to pay, advertising to buy, taxes and so on and so forth and lets say they aren't very profitable and they divide their revenue by headcount. Per day then they need to get $417 for you alone. You might be only getting half of that but the your customers are getting these kind of bills. So, what I am trying to say is that for the vast majority of customers they don't even know what they are being charged out at so when it comes to paying for a service it always seems way higher than your own salary.

So, finally you might ask, how can I get a builder, construction contractor or floor layer to do a small job?

1. Manage your expectations and educate yourself on the job you want completed.
2. Go online and work out from Youtube what this job actually entails and how much time it is going to take. (Do it yourself if you think you can)
3. Think about it from the contractors perspective. These days a good contractor is never, ever short of work. Crazily, you have to compete and make it attractive for him to come and work on your project. So, don't pre-qualify yourself out right away by telling him 'its just a small job'.
4. Describe the job accurately, sound informed about the process and ask them how long 'they' think its going to take.
5. Never tell them how long you think its going to take.

This will help you find a contractor who is willing to take on the 'small' jobs that you want to get done.

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