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It’s easy to expect that a callback to a completed job can double your cost for the installation – once for the installation, and once more to fix it. Unfortunately, callbacks can actually cost up to five times as much as the original installation. Here’s why, by the numbers:

  1. The cost of the original installation; in other words, the amount you originally bid for your crew to do the installation correctly minus your profit.
  2. The cost of demolition. When you have a callback on a masonry job, chances are good you will have to disassemble or demolish the damaged part of the masonry structure to prepare it for repair. This can be a time-consuming task, especially if materials that are applied by other contractors are involved, such as windows, electrical or plumbing pipes, landscaping and other types of siding. You may have to work around their schedules which can make it hard to schedule the repair efficiently.
  3. The cost of lost business because your crew is doing the demolition instead of working on a paying job. With today’s labor shortage, your crew is probably spread pretty thin. If you have to give up a new job because your crew is tied up on a repair on an older job, that costs you double – once for the cost of the labor on the repair, and again for the money you didn’t get because you couldn’t do the new job.
  4. The cost of the labor and materials to do the repair. This might include also scaffold and equipment rental.
  5. The cost of lost business because your crew is doing the repair instead of working on a paying job. Same doubling of labor cost as in number 3 if you have to pass up a new job to repair an old job.

There’s one more cost that’s hard to put a dollar value on but one that can put you out of business – the cost of a bad reputation. Lots of callbacks can permanently damage your reputation, while eliminating them can improve it.

You can see that a callback has multiple costs that not only eat up your profit but will almost always cost more, sometimes a lot more, than the initial installation. So how can you minimize your callbacks?

  • Don’t short cut on materials. Even small items, like fasteners or brick ties, should be very high quality. Saving a few bucks in the short run could cost way more than the money saved if it results in callbacks.
  • When the tricky parts of a job are being constructed, spend the extra management time to ensure the work will function and appear as planned.
  • Stay up to date on new materials, tools, building techniques and project management software by reading masonry as well as other construction-related magazines, visiting construction-related websites, and joining your local masonry and construction-related trade groups.
  • Request product samples from manufacturers and try them out on test walls when your business slows during the winter. You never know when you might run across something new that reduces your costs while improving quality.

Most call backs are because of either poor design or poor labor and materials management during installation. While you might be able to get the architect to improve a poor design, you usually only have some control over the design. But you have lots of control over work and materials management. Spend a few extra dollars for quality materials, and a few extra hours on site management, and you’ll eliminate more callbacks, save yourself their 5X cost, and build a reputation as the go-to builder in your area.

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