How long should I wait before work starts?

About two months ago I signed a contract with a local licensed, bonded roofer and paid a 50% deposit. The next day (Friday) the secretary called and said a crew would be out Monday. I thought, “Wow, these guys are fast.” On Monday, a truck came and parked in front of my house for ten minutes and then drove off. I waited all day for the truck to return or a phone call, but nothing. The next day I called the office and was told it wasn’t time for a crew to come out yet, because they needed to take more measurements. After waiting a few weeks, I called again and was told I wasn’t on the schedule, but they’d get me on for the next week. After several more weeks of calling, I was finally told the crew would definitely be out Monday. Monday (yesterday) came and went and I heard nothing. There was some light rain, so I thought maybe they needed to postpone it a day. Today (Tuesday) was bright and sunny, but still no crew and no call, so I called the office. The secretary told me they needed to delay things a bit more to make sure they “do the job right the first time.” She said probably Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, and I can call back Monday to find out.

How long is it reasonable to wait? My wife’s about ready to write a nasty letter threatening to go to the contractor’s board. I’d heard good things about this company, and I think they’re just about the biggest in town. But now I’m beginning to wonder if they have any clue what they’re doing. In the wretched economy of 2011, is it normal to have a huge backlog of work? Or are these guys just hopeless?

I would look closer at your contract to determine if you can back out without losing your deposit.

Personally, I am about a month and a half out. I do not take a deposit until within a week of my planned start date. Something seems out of place here.

You sound like one of my clients. I’m several months out. I’d let you back out. No deposit collected or lost either.

I think he has a right to be upset. We are about 4 weeks out at this point of the season, but if we tell a homeowner that we are going to start a job it will be started (weather pending).

We would also have everything we need to start the job and “do it right the first time” before we bid the job. We would not need to come out to the house again to measure.

I don’t think that it is acceptable for a homeowner to wonder when their job is going to be done. As long as the company set proper expectations this should never become an issue.

Thats how we run our company anyways.

Also Mr. Homeowner the biggest MOST definately does NOT mean the best by any regards.

Just my two cents worth

I might have been over simplistic in my reply. He does need to be irritated. If I had said on Fri, I’d be there Mon., I would.
There is no reason for the crap he’s putting up with.

(In my case, I’m juggling jobs from 13-15 years back that have scheduled phase-ins. I finished a phase on one today and the HO scheduled 4 more phases over the next 6 years.)

i’m booked for over 2 months right now. but i also take no down payments. some times things are worth the wait. this guy needs to do what he says or give you back your money.

So they have had your 50% deposit sitting in their bank collecting interest while they keep putting you off? Imagine how much money they would make if they did this to everyone.
I would let your wife write that letter, and call the contractors board.

[quote=“bcdemon”]So they have had your 50% deposit sitting in their bank collecting interest while they keep putting you off? Imagine how much money they would make if they did this to everyone.
[/quote]

Well, considering that most simple commercial bank accounts are lucky to be getting 1 or 2% interest, I would imagine that is…not much.

For example, if they held $100,000 of customer money in their account year round, that would amount to somewhere in the range of $1000-2000 per year.

Frankly, I would be very very concerned about a company requesting money that far in advance. My question would be WHY do they need it weeks in advance? And when they fail to produce according to their schedule, you should demand a full refund.

I can understand on cash work wanting 50% before work starts, but that should be paid on the day the job starts. Any contractor that is properly funded and has good credit lines with suppliers should be able to fund work for a day or 2, at a minimum.

YMMV

[quote=“PeteW”]

they did this to everyone.

Well, considering that most simple commercial bank accounts are lucky to be getting 1 or 2% interest, I would imagine that is…not much.

For example, if they held $100,000 of customer money in their account year round, that would amount to somewhere in the range of $1000-2000 per year. [/quote]

But companies that do this sort of stuff on a regular basis aren’t throwing the money in a regular personal savings account. They invest the money in something else. Like those “mail in rebates” you see in stores, they have your money in an investment for a few months before they give you your refund back.

This company won’t make a mint off this HO 50% deposit, but if he has 30 homeowner deposits, well now he’s making something.

I am in no way a big company in my area.I refuse to take a 50% down payment until I am within 3-5 days of starting the project.My reasoning is(for lack of a better description) like buying a new car that hasn’t been delivered yet or buying a huge T.V,I am chomping at the bit so to speak waiting for the delivery truck to show…I could only imagine what a customer is thinking or feeling handing a check for $10,000 or $15,000 hell even $500.

The contractor in question should have stood behind his word.This is a perfect example of why we have a dicey reputation as a trade.Like Tinner said if you say you will be there Monday,then be there.Most customers are not that stupid or naive not to know they are getting jerked around.

With the amount of storms going on every other day a company will get behind.But you don’t lay the responsibility on a secretary to do your dirty work.Grow some and call the customer and be honest.That will get you further than trying to insult ones intelligence.And the customer should not have to call you.

They are relying on you from the time the pen hits the paper.

I know personally areas that have been hit hard and the customers were waiting up to 6 months just for a proposal.

Bottom line IMHO is if you are behind tell the customer,don’t let them sit and wonder what is going on.How would you react if it was your mother,father,aunt,uncle,brother,sister or grand parents being treated like that? And the comment about waiting to be able to do it right,I would find that alarming.Customers have to be assured from the beginning up to when the last ridge cap is fastened.

Then they are depending on you to come back in the event of an issue with the installation.If some one is being snowballed from the beginning then that pretty much is the response you will have until the workmanship warranty lapses.

Do what you say and say what you do.,PERIOD!!!

Waiter - So many red flags here. First of all, any reputable company will measure and kno exactly what to do the first time. They waste a lot of time and money rolling a truck to your house, so they try and minimize this. Second, that is a huge down payment to a large company. I paid 10% for my roof job as down payment, and the rest upon sucessful completion.

I was only asked to sign the contract based on when the contractor was ready to start work and could schedule me in. Even after that, it took 3 weeks to begin the work because it rained almost daily, but the contractor never deposited the 10% check until we got close to starting. Seems like something is wrong at you contractors company. I would call and demand my deposit back to start work right away.

I don’t imagine he’s sitting on your money or investing it. It’s probably spent.

[quote=“BigKutta”]Waiter - Second, that is a huge down payment to a large company. I paid 10% for my roof job as down payment, and the rest upon sucessful completion quote]

I have roofed homes without a down payment,but its far and few between.I require 1/2,some require 1/3 but I will and will always have 1/2 down.But I won’t ask for the payment until I am 3-5 days out.

I worked for a company that was in the 10-15 million per year and they always required 1/3-1/2 down.IMO its good business.

The problem with the down payment paranoia stems from contractors who take the deposit and skip town or they delay and delay and delay,or the ones who do a 1/2 a**ed job and hook and book never to be seen again.I have roofed both of my parents homes and I have a contract and I required 1/2 down.Not personal just the way I do things.[/quote]

I do 50% down payments. I’m 2months out. I buy all the material in advance, have it delivered and ready to go. Materials are rising to much to fast now.

This:

oh, and just be a nice guy, and give him another 6… maybe even 8 more weeks. i’m sure everything is legit.

right?

Thanks for all your comments everyone. They’ve been very helpful. Every contractor who bid the job asked for an immediate 50% deposit, so I think that’s just standard practice here (I should’ve mentioned I’m in Nevada). And most banks around here are paying .01% interest (yes, I mean 1/100th of one percent), so it’s not like we’re really losing anything by paying the deposit in advance. I double-checked with the contractor’s board and they’ve got a current bond so I’m not too worried they’re going to skip town with my money.

It sounds like it’s been a long wait but not outrageous, but like many of you pointed out, it’s more about the lack of communication and the lame excuses. If they have an emergency job I could understand that; my roof doesn’t have any major problems, it’s just very old and starting to develop leaks. I just wish they would call and let me know if they’re not showing up on the day they said they would.

I’ll see what happens next week. If the weather is fine and they still don’t show up, I’m going to bring up the word refund. Hopefully that will get a response. If that doesn’t work, the term contractor’s board should. Thanks everyone!

Waiter, dump that company now. They have lied over and over. How in the world could you possibly think they are not the lowest scum in the business? Taking a 50% deposit way in advance, too???

I don’t understand this not taking a 50% down payment in advance? I do this on all my contracts an we are booked into
July. If they give you money down they won’t go anywhere else. If you are an honest company an can manage money this is normal and good business practice.

i’m booked for over 2 months right now. but i also take no down payments. some times things are worth the wait. this guy needs to do what he says or give you back your money.