Two sides to the story

A trend has developed for some remodeling and home building clients to “shop on line” for products that they are considering for their project. Seeking value for the dollar is a good thing and understandable. “Why should I pay more when I can get the same thing for less money?” It’s hard to argue against that. It is logical, and in many cases, accurate. No one can compete with the “Big Boxes” price points. However, as in most things, there are two sides to the story which should be understood prior to making a purchase.

 As contractors we must stand behind our work and products that we deliver. It’s the “we deliver” that is important. Minnesota law is quite clear on contractor warranty obligations. Every contractor must abide by their warranty obligations on their work and product. However, what happens when the contractor does not furnish the product?  Most product warranty flows through the manufacturer, so there is typically a clear product warranty path to assure that faulty products or parts get replaced by the manufacturer. But who is responsible for the cost of communication, follow thru, ordering and the installation when the contractor or sub-contractor did not purchase it as a part of their contract / cost and it’s not faulty installation?   

 If a client buys a product outside of our contract, we can and typically will install it (with agreed upon disclaimer). However when time comes to replace or fix the faulty product purchased directly by the client, the client is responsible to pay for all the labor, management, trip charges and service work related to the product fix.( Otherwise we doe!)  On top of this, the client will most likely have to get involved with their product source to facilitate getting the right parts or new product. Many manufacturers will only furnish the product or part and not get involved with the rest. Some subcontractors charge $100 / hr for service work. Just travel time to your home and back will cost you that. After that cost, there is product reinstallation and management costs because we did not furnish the product through our vendor and under our contract. It’s not hard to see that just a small faulty part on a faucet or piece of hardware could cost many times what the savings were on the front end.

 Your new home or remodeling project should be a posative, fun experience from design through service. Talk to your contractor about these issues so the “responsibility chain” is clearly understood. At Lake Country Builders, we promote our “one point responsibility process”.  One person to call one company to be responsible and one company to service and warrant your project and products. When is done like this, we own those products too!

Peter W Jacobson