Contractors, quotes and full employment
In response to John Simpson’s reply to my original letter about the price of hiring landscapers to replace retaining walls, the 10 bids that I got varied from $11,000 to $35,000 for essentially the same job. The bids under $20,000 came towards the end of my search, so contacting many contractors is certainly worthwhile. Hence Mr. Simpson’s advice to only contact three or four companies wouldn’t have been the best.
Yes, making bids can be an expense, but a reasonable bid is the best way to win a contract, and thus not wasted time. We who own houses worth less than $300,000 can’t afford to pay 10% of their value to get retaining walls changed, especially when the space is only enough for a single car.
In my letter, my neighbour did the same job by himself – at a cost of $6,000. That included renting the equipment, not just the stones and mortar as Mr Simpson thought. Thus, the difference between the $6,000 he paid and the estimates I got seems to be for labour. That difference of $5,000 to $29,000 is a lot to pay for labour.
I certainly don’t think contractors are bad people. This debate started from Ms Ryan’s editorial saying that construction is becoming prohibitively expensive, and this was an example. I don’t blame anyone for their quotes. If I could make a thousand dollars a day, I wouldn’t work elsewhere for less. And this is a problem for the whole economy, as it may overheat, and inflation could pick up substantially. This may be a side effect of full employment.