Case Study: Help a roofer and you could win a $100 gas card
Will a small mistake in the contract cost this contractor years of referrals?
By Robert Koci
Jack Johnson, president of Do Right Renovations, was thrilled to have finally won a job in a neighbourhood he had been canvasing for a year. Riverview, where he did most of his work was good, but Guildwood was a step up; better houses, bigger renovations and clients with money and no inclination to do cash work.
It was only a small flat roof, but Johnson knew he could work this job into years of renovation work in Guildwood if he did it right. He had attractive flyers to drop in the mailboxes along the street, highly visible lawn signs and a smile for every passing neighbour. The future looked bright for Do Right Renovations…except for one thing; the original deck boards exposed when Johnson’s men pulled up the old roof were terrible.
Nothing he’d heard about the houses in Guildwood prepared him for what he saw. Even for a 1920’s house, the gaps were too wide. The boards were varying widths and full of loose knots, and the 90-year-old nails were now rusted down to pin-thickness. He guessed rightly about rot (there was none), but that didn’t matter—for a top-notch job, the boards needed to be covered with ½ inch ply before he could lay down his torch-on membrane.
His contract said nothing about plywood and his fixed-price contract didn’t include the cost of installing it. He could explain it all to the client and bill a change order, but should he? He didn’t want to start his reputation as the “change-order gouger” contractor, but he didn’t want one as a sucker willing to do work for free, either.
There was as good chance that if he mentioned it, the customer would tell him it was his problem to solve and if he had to add plywood it was his responsibility to do so and there would be problems if he didn’t. If he didn’t mention it, he could go ahead as planned, make money and know the roof would survive at least long enough for him to make millions in this new neighbourhood before it failed.
What should Jack Johnson do? Should he:
1. Go ahead without plywood and without telling the customer and make a profit.
2. Tell the customer, insist it be done and bill for the extra cost and risk a confrontation and a bad reputation.
3. Tell the customer that it’s needed but let the customer decide if it should be done and risk a job badly done
4. Tell the customer and risk him insisted it be done with no extra charges.
5. Go ahead with the extra work without telling the customer, protect his reputation and make no profit.
Post your best answer in the comments field below and tell us why you chose that option. Or give us an Option #6! If you are among the majority opinion, we will have a draw that might win you a $100 gas card.