The Million-Dollar Question
OK, here is that question: If general contractors and owners have been burned in the past by choosing a low bidder over a confirmed quality contractor or sub, why does the low-bidder mentality persist? Why do honest and qualified contractors continue to lose business to “contractors” who ultimately cost end users far more for their incompetence than the initial higher expense of a quality contractor?
An owner or GC needs a building built. A budget is made. Some (not all or even most) owners are in construction for the quick profit—that is, they will not occupy or lease the space but simply turn it over upon completion. This type of owner is obviously most concerned with the bottom line. Since these owners do not have to deal with the down-the-road consequences of hiring the low bidder, it makes the most financial sense to choose this species—especially when one considers that a low bid may be tens of thousands of dollars lower than the next bid.
The low bidder gets the job and may well be completely unqualified to perform the work contracted. We are all well aware of the disastrous installations that have resulted in court action and the near “uninsurability” of certain segments of the market.
In a world where most remember only the bad, insurers view most EIFS and, by association, much stucco, with near intolerance. This is where we stand … what is to be done?
My frustration is that even with a tool like the number-one national construction magazine, I can only continue to repeat what readers already know: The bad apples are spoiling it for the whole bushel.
Therefore, we can only conclude that we all have to get out there and stump it. Our industry needs to collectively promote our strengths. Present evidence of success along with evidence of potential disaster. If owners, GCs and insurance companies have been frightened into avoiding stucco, perhaps they could be frightened into avoiding the real danger: the unqualified low bidders, the ones without legitimate credibility or affiliation.
Architect Kevin Whitfield, who spoke at TLPCA, claimed it was “difficult to practice architecture without stucco.” However, he also charged the EIFS industry with not being proactive in educating the public regarding the realities of its performance and the differences between EIFS and stucco.
With city ordinances being passed that prohibit EIFS and stucco (such as in Plano, Texas, according to Whitfield), contractors are seeing their craft being outlawed! Everyone must be educated on the reality of stucco products’ quality, and perhaps it’s time to quit complaining within our circles about the unfairness of it and do something
In the end, we all want what’s best, and if the case can be presented for stucco and EIFS, and how everyone can profit from the correct application of these products, this dark time will at last brighten. If, in the face of facts, insurance companies and end users still refuse to hire legitimate contractors and specify good products without fear, don’t waste time and energy on them. Their own ignorance will be their downfall.