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Who here thinks having clients supply their own materials is a good idea? Not me!

Owner furnished materials have been a hot topic for the past year. perhaps related to the down economy.

Most professional remodelers in the country forbid the practice. Until recently, I have strongly discouraged folks from purchasing things outside the contract. I find that typically clients want to supply plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, and even occasionally flooring and tiles too.

At Levco we have tolerated it occasionally, always with trepidation. My ultimate goal is to create a stellar reputation, earn a modest living, and have each client be an enthusiastic referral. From my experience, this little perk was a double edged sword. When it went well, there was no problem, yet rarely any appreciation. When it went poorly, there was a palpable “Tremor in the  force” which is in direct conflict with my goals. The question was whether to fix the problem, or bag it all together.

Drip Drip

Drip Drip

We have repeatedly come across situations where owner provided materials are having problems. This fact has not stopped our clients from thinking that it is worthwhile to “save a few bucks”

The problem arises when we have to deal with faulty components or missing parts, or wrong parts altogether. Although counter intuitive, “clients who provide their own material always pay more, I make sure of it”.

The conversation with my clients when problems occur goes something like this: “Yes, I can see it is broken. remember when we signed the agreement…? Mr. Jones, that is your problem to fix, not mine.” The finger pointing leads to animosity and inevitably sours the relationship. Let us provide your materials just like we do for every other client that works with us.

I have a shopping list of things that have gone wrong when clients order their own stuff. I was recently screwed royally by a client who ruined my willingness to allow owner supplied materials ever again. No more Mr. Nice Guy.


  1. Leaking faucet at the base
  2. Fouled bath fan, it makes a thumping sound
  3. Forgot to order the dimming transformer for their lighting
  4. Not enough tile ordered to cover waste
  5. The sink doesn’t fit the hole
  6. The 3 year old display toilet had rotten rubber components
  7. The dishwasher is missing a toe kick plate
  8. Granite that is not all the same thickness ” but they got a real good deal”
  9. The fireplace has a gas leak due to a manufacturing flaw
  10. Wrong rough in lighting fixtures
  11. Wrong laundry box
  12. Faulty ductless mini split system

We expect things to arrive that are faulty from time to time. There does not seem to be a pattern. My subcontractors deal with these things all the time, in fact, so often that they have learned to budget for them. It got me thinking, I have no time for this.

It happens

Shit Happens so

If you agree with the saying “Shit happens”,then you’ll understand where I am going with this.

I was hired to remodel and dealing with these problems is a substantial part of my job. Sadly, the sparkle gets lost when I am doing it because I am feeling screwed, rather than naturally out of the kindness of my heart.

Owning my own business allows and encourages me to be a creative problem solver. When I am uncomfortable, I pinpoint the root cause, and I focus all of my energy on fixing the problem. In a recent meeting on the subject, and several long conversations with clients, suppliers, and coaches, I have exhausted my ability to say yes.

What I realized, was that no matter what I want to occur and wish it were different, I too now forbid clients from providing their own materials. If a client feels that the only way they can afford to remodel with us is if they provide their own materials, then this is a clear sign that we will not take on the project. This will eliminate 95% of the problem.

The Curry Rule.

Low Hanging Fruit

Low Hanging Fruit

From this point on, clients are not allowed to provide their own materials.

This can be modified on a case by case basis on finished materials only.

Examples of exemptions include: Providing finish lighting fixtures.

In other words, clients who wish to provide any materials will have “some skin in the game.” (A phrase coined by Warren Buffet realizing that financial decisions are best made by those who have their own money riding on the outcome of the investment.) The “skin” or consequences in these situations will be included in the project cost to deal with issues related to client provided materials.

In exchange, I will be able to be the hero and do what I do best:, solve problems, remodel homes, and stay busy building enthusiastic referrals.

Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly.

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