How Good Vibes Build Great Homes

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Subcontractor and Employee Treatment, and How Good Vibes Build Great Homes


There have always been two types of custom home builders in the Pacific Northwest.  The type of homebuilder that hides and hoards their profits, while beating up their employees and subcontractors, and the type of quality home builder that doesn’t.  We call the former construction bullies.  Unfortunately, there are far more of the former home builder, than the latter home builder.  First of all, why should this matter to you, and secondly, specifically how do quality general contractors differ from construction bullies in this regard?  As a top-rated home builder, we here at Diggs Custom Homes believe that the customer comes first, and in order to actually make the customer come first, we must take care of the hands that actually build your home as well as those who directly manage the people in the trenches.  In short, we believe that good vibes matter.

Why it matters

First off, why should that matter to you?  To oversimplify, happy people are more productive, and produce greater quality, with greater attention to detail and care, than unhappy people.  Not such a hard concept to understand, right?  How does it actually affect a given project?  Well, that depends on which bullying tactic we are talking about and who is on the receiving end of the bullying.  Obviously, whether you are building a luxury farmhouse custom home, a more traditional craftsman custom home, or a contemporary custom home, you would rather believe that your project manager is competent, and has been given all the tools and training that they need by the custom home builder, and is appropriately compensated for their efforts, right?  Many homebuyers simply assume this is the case, and don’t see the signs of a different story happening behind the scenes, until it’s too late.  What are the signs of an overworked, underqualified / trained, and or under-compensated project manager or superintendent?  Well, an overworked PM, or Super as we call them, will have issues with organization, communication, and efficiency just based on the sheer magnitude of the workload, even if they are qualified, and appropriately compensated.  This will result in oversights, delays, and extreme frustration for the employee, as well as you, the paying customer.  An underqualified or undertrained PM or Super will have the same issues and will often cause more costly mistakes than anyone out of ignorance, which again, results in high levels of frustration, and anxiety for themselves, as well as you.  Ok, so overworked is bad, that makes sense, and so is underqualified.  How does underpaid show up in reality?  Luxury home builders understand that the underpaid PM or Super was also underqualified/undertrained at one point but was able to survive the mental beating that comes along with experiencing constant failure and the stress of hearing from angry homeowners and unreasonable senior management, and are usually overworked too.  Add all this up, and you will see constant oversights, materials not being ordered with the proper lead times taken into account, failed inspections, subcontractors missing weeks on end due to poor communication, and excuses galore.  Whether you actually see or hear what the problem really is, or you just see the symptoms, construction bullies hoard their profits, paying on the lowest scale that they can, while cramming as much work into each employee’s schedule that they can, and then pushing them to “figure it out” when a problem arises, oftentimes hanging them out to dry with angry homeowners and subcontractors alike.  Top-rated custom home builders in the Pacific Northwest know that this type of treatment is, unfortunately, more common than you might think.


Don’t get bullied

So what does the poor treatment of subcontractors look like, and how does it affect the job?  The first thing you should be aware of is that many construction bullies will brag to you that they beat down a price on this or that, or that they had to do a little screaming in order to get something done, or that the way they pushed around their subcontractors was all done for you.  This is a fallacy.  What incentive do they have to get a guy to drop his price if they don’t offer a de-escalation clause in their contract, and you don’t get to see the books anyways?  Yes, they beat them up.  Sure.  But they do it to pad their own profits, or to cover for a mistake that they made. It is definitely not to save you the homeowner money as your contract is a fixed-price contract with no money savings de-escalation clause like a cost-plus contract offers. Top-rated custom home builders know that one of the oldest homebuilder tricks in the book is to push down prices from subcontractors when getting the initial bids, with promises of making more money in the future on other jobs, and then when it comes time to pay, holding their check for some minuscule reason and forcing them to either perform work that was not agreed upon or simply shorting the subcontractor by implementing excessively punitive fines and fees called back charges, for so-called, “cleaning fees” or some other made-up reason to keep from paying the people who are actually doing the work.  Senior management of these construction bully custom home builders oftentimes don’t even have the fortitude to do this themselves, they force their already frustrated PM or Super to be the bad guy, exasperating the situation for both parties.  Does the builder bring these ill-gotten savings back to you, the paying customer?  The answer to that is a resounding NO.  Not only that, but the way this treatment manifests itself on your job site is that anytime a subcontractor can cut a corner that they know will be difficult or impossible to find, they will.  They will even go out of their way to create problems out of spite, knowing that the issue won’t be discovered until they are long gone, leaving you, the paying customer holding the bag.  It almost goes without saying that the turn-over rates are typically high for this type of homebuilder, too.  But the chew them up and spit them out mentality of these lazy, greedy, construction bully custom home builders carries on as long as the marketing and sales teams can keep feeding the fire.  These issues are not limited to the builders with the rock bottom prices either.  In fact, some of the most expensive, on-your-lot custom home builders in the market are the worst.  Do not assume that a higher price, means higher integrity, or a better product.

[FACT] One of the most expensive on your lot custom home builders in the Pacific Northwest built a house with a rotten subfloor, only to be discovered by the unsuspecting homeowner, by falling through the floor of their finished house!  These things don’t happen because you deserve it, or did anything to the people building your home, but because subcontractors get tired of being treated unfairly by a classic construction bully homebuilder.  How do custom home builders like this survive?  By having excellent marketing, slick salespeople, and enough money in the bank to settle all the lawsuits with non-disclosure agreements, and by staying abreast of who the cheapest subcontractors in the market are.  They simply overpower the market with their ability to get customers to sign contracts, and once they do, they accept all the negative feedback and anger as the “cost of doing business”, knowing that they will eventually scrub the entire encounter from the internet with lawyers and money, which they have plenty of if needed.  This is simply bad business, but it can be artfully hidden from the customer by an experienced sales and marketing team with one goal in mind.  To get your money. This does not create good vibes or foster good energy through mutual friendly cooperation.

Good Vibes Build Great Homes

Having been in the industry from every angle collectively, with over 150 years of combined experience as subcontractors, general contractors, realtors, permit techs, developers, accountants, and construction managers we know how business should be done.  We at Diggs Custom Homes take the utmost pride in being a top-rated, high-end, luxury home builder, as well as getting the best possible prices from our subs and vendors for their best possible work.  We recognize the need to control pricing, quality, and schedules, but we do so by being easy to work with and honest.  That means providing accurate, timely information which allows the subcontractor to maximize their efficiency, which in turn increases their profit margins while controlling your budget, as well as the construction schedule.  We give them the full scope of work expected, in perfect detail, and pay them accordingly, which you, the customer, can see all along the way with our fully transparent, cost-plus business model.  We maintain greater control of our subcontractors, and our prices by operating at a higher level and being more honest than any construction bully custom home builder could ever dream of achieving.  Not only will you see the quality and the responsiveness, but you will see the invoices with your own eyes, along with confirmation of prompt payment upon completion of services rendered, without using any lazy, unnecessary bullying techniques.  We hire only the best subcontractors, and in-house staff, and provide all the training and tools needed to maximize our value and the value of your home.  Again, we can do this because we have the best staff in the market, the best subcontractors in the market, and a true team-first approach with everyone.  Using our philosophy of “Good Vibes Build Great Homes”, we maintain excellent relationships with our subcontractors and each other, and enjoy the process along the way.  Whether it’s a farmhouse, modern, contemporary, craftsman, ranch, one-level, two-level, or a basement, custom home building is hard.  There is no need to risk your home, or your happiness because of hard feelings and a demoralized workforce due to a lazy, greedy construction bully general contractor.  Our homes are built by well-trained, highly competent people at the top of their professions, who take as much pride in their work, as you will have in your home.  Our staff, along with our subcontractors will professionally handle all the challenges that come along with care, integrity, and good vibes!

Author Details
Don’s love of all things real estate has motivated him to spend the last 30 years in buying, building and selling, rehabbing, flipping, lending, Developing land and large scale plats and is a nationally recognized award-winning real estate professional.
Don’s love of all things real estate has motivated him to spend the last 30 years in buying, building and selling, rehabbing, flipping, lending, Developing land and large scale plats and is a nationally recognized award-winning real estate professional.

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