Contractor's opinions please?

igloochicOctober 7, 2010

I have an interesting situation with an upcoming remodel of a large home. Ten bathrooms all need to be redone, as well as a kitchen, butlers pantry, a couple of dining rooms, restoration of plaster etc.

We had found a contracting company we really liked, but the main reason we like it is that we were assigned their historical home expert and he's a wonderful craftsman, as well as someone I enjoy having in my home for extended periods of time (not invasive, very polite, personally very enjoyable to discuss options with, etc) and he knows his historical stuff, which is really important to us.

So the long and short...the company is having issues because jobs are cutting back or not coming in. First they cut his insurance, then his salary, then layed him off.

We are seriously considering hiring him to work for us full time for a couple of years. I am a bit torn about not using the company that we found him from, but there are no assurances that he will be hired back, even if we insist (because he's unlikely to want to go back on the lower salary and no insurance).

So as a contractor...if you lay a guy off, do you walk away from that? Would you understand if we hired him, and still used you on some of the larger jobs or would it peeve you off so much we'd not see you again????

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homebound

If your scope of work is defined clearly, and you're dealing with professionals, there should be no problem at all. I don't think anyone has the time or the inclination to take it personally.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 8:23AM
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HandyMac

The bigger problem is the relationship between the craftsman nad the company. Most companies value their good employees and do whatever they can to keep them. What you described sounds like their efforts may have been an attempt to keep him employed.

I would talk to him and explain your idea, then ask if the company wanted him back before the completion of your jobs, would he stay and finish, or go back with the better employment possibilities.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 6:44PM
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snoonyb

Another concern, is if a "disagreement" should arise, will the contractor suspect that your position/s may be influenced by the ex-enployee.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 7:11PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

I started on a large house restoration project in 2000. I stayed on in 2001 after the falling-out between homeowner and my employer, only by mutual consent. I worked there freelance another 2 years, finishing the project in 2003. The family "adopted" me.
Igloo, IMO it's best to get permission/assent of the GC before "poaching" an employee (or a sub), even a former one. Think of the potential backlash against the fellow professionally if he encroached on a job after his boss lost it. He could be blackballed in the locality.
Just a thought or two.
Casey

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 8:34PM
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igloochic

Casey that's exactly my worry. We like both the contracting compaNy, and this guy, but if the hip was going down I'd save the guy first. Our last renovation was hell on bit us and the house and that can't happen with this house. It would probably haunt me!

The company got too big too fast and this down turn has hit them hard. Down from dozens of workers to just a handful of the family now. Rumors are that they won't make it past the new year, which I hope is untrue. They can't afford to take him back with benefits because our job isn't enough to cover all benefits for staff of course and given he is in his late 50s benefits matter.

He's not a bitter guy and the company is professional. They probably don't want to offend us as much as much as we don't want to offend them.

We are also in the contracting business so we are probably more worried about this than the ordinary person would be, but I don't want to call a plumber and have them decline a job because they worry we will steal their staff.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 12:59AM
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sis3

Any issues with licensing and insurance for this guy if he works for you?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 10:17AM
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mongoct

"So as a contractor...if you lay a guy off, do you walk away from that? Would you understand if we hired him, and still used you on some of the larger jobs or would it peeve you off so much we'd not see you again???? "

It's all about communication. Do what Casey recommended. Talk to the craftsman, talk to the company that let him go. The reason you hired them was because of your comfort level with him in your home, as well as his knowledge regarding the scope of your particular job.

Let the company know you'll consider them for any additional work outside the scope of this project, or outside the scope of the abilities of the craftsman.

As the worker in question, it'd help if he made a call to his former employer as well. He's certainly not beholden to them, as they layed him off. But again, it's all about communication.

The company may be nice bout it, they may be ticked off. But as long as you've communicated with them, you've done the courteous thing.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 10:37AM
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homebound

"rumors are they won't make it past the new year...".

If it seems that bad, you need to find another contractor. I suspect any downpayment and progress payments you make would just be putting out fires elsewhere. When the music stops, it's over.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 5:23PM
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