why-a-callback-costs-5-times-the-cost-of-an-original-installationIt’s natural to expect that a callback to a completed job could double your cost for the installation, since you’d pay once for the installation, and once more to fix it. Unfortunately, callbacks actually can cost up to five times as much as the original installation.

Here’s why, by the numbers:

  1. The cost of the original installation. This means 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 you will have to disassemble or demolish the damaged part of the masonry structure to prepare to repair it. This can be a time-consuming task, especially if materials that have been 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 those contractors’ schedules, which can make it hard to schedule the repair efficiently.
  3. The cost of lost business. Your crew is doing the demolition, instead of working on a paying job. With today’s labor shortage, your crew is probably already spread thinly. If you have to give up a new job because your crew is tied up on the repair of an older job, that costs you twice – once for the cost of the labor on the repair, and again for the money you lost because you couldn’t do the new job.
  4. The cost of the labor and materials to do the repair. This might include scaffold and equipment rental.
  5. The cost of lost business. Your crew is doing the repair instead of working on a paying job. This is the same doubling of labor cost as in No. 3, if you have to pass up a new job to repair an old job.

There’s one more cost that’s hard to assign a dollar value to, but could 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 will not only eat up your profit, but also 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 high in quality. Saving a few bucks in the short run could cost far more than the money saved if a callback results.
  • 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 trade publications 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 callbacks are due to either poor design or poor labor and materials management during installation. While you may be able to convince an architect to improve a poor design, you usually have only limited control over the design. But you have considerable control over work and materials management. Spend a few extra dollars for quality materials, and a few extra hours toward site management. You’ll eliminate more callbacks, save yourself that 5-time cost, and build a reputation as the go-to builder in your area.

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