Be wary of working with people who can't do math.

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goldfish21
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19 Dec 2023, 7:22 pm

Worked several jobs with this guy. Some I did okay, others it was wtf? /lost money, and another contract he Wants to take on for a "12k+ payday," I am going to strongly caution him against taking the contract.

Past examples:

Someone charged a client $800 for a complete job, which they botched. He agreed to undo it and do it right for $400 "because he felt bad for them." (Wtf? The market price was set at $800 already.) Then he paid a sub contractor $100 to do some of the initial work that I could have easily done. Then he/we made 5 or 6 trips there to complete the job (Nature of the multi step process and Why people charge $800) And paid for materials/supplies. After fuel expenses I think he made enough money for a hamburger or two. Dumb.

Another small job he agrees to do for $500 then again it's a 6 trip job. After materials/supplies/fuel if we're splitting the proceeds what are we divvying up, $80? Again, there's a reason people charge $900. Also dumb.

Another job he simply trusted a general contractor he'd worked for before to pay him fairly on the contract. Got screwed getting paid rock bottom piece work price for fairly high end time consuming custom work. Bottom line: I got screwed out of $1250 for my labour and he made Zero on the job for his own labour.

That same general contractor has a much larger job that needs doing in January sometime and it pays a slightly higher piece rate which Should result in about a $12.5k payday. All he sees is "let's split 12 grand!!" But I went and scoped out the size of the job by pacing around the outside of the site (a retail store that was most recently a Spirit Halloween) and the size of the place + specs given = the Only way there's 20,000sf to finish is if it has a hard ceiling over the entire place.. we confirmed that it does. Working on walls walking around on foot is Gravy. Working on ceilings, especially high enough to require a scissor lift, is not only Hard punishing work, but Slow work because it takes time to go up and down and drive around and reposition for every joint + there are likely 1,000+ pot lights in the ceiling to make sure all the round holes are smooth etc etc = TIME.. finishing a ~10,000 sf ceiling + 22' high walls + small changing rooms (small rooms = big time. Hard to move around in a phone booth vs. an open space) = time consuming work.. I did my rough math on how many man days I think it would take to do it and if I'm even close to reality it would Maybe be worth $22/hr-ish, which is less than half of what it should cost in skilled labour. If he's gotta hire other helpers at Minimum $40/hr right off the hop he's losing money unless these guys are lighting fast and come with some automation tools.

Blah blah blah - he Thinks this is a job that 2-3 guys can bang out in 10 days and make great money on.. but that would Only be if it was all walls no ceilings. Since at least 1/2 are High hard ceilings and portion are small spaces, this is recipe for him to lost his shirt if he takes it on and pays other guys out their proper wage. Does NOT make sense for me to agree to take it on with him and "split the proceeds," because when the dust settles (literally after sanding) we'd end up splitting such small amount of money for the Time put into the job we'd have a hard time even making $20/hr a piece out of it, which is nuts.

I'm going to run over all the numbers with him and totally burst his bubble. He Believes this is an opportunity for him to make a big payday, but it isn't. He'll only dig himself a deeper hole - especially since he's in poor health and cannot work fast nor long hours himself and has no choice but to pay a bunch of others to do work. He'd be better off taking on multiple small jobs and charging the full $800-900 that they're worth vs. spending weeks on this job only to lose in the end. Kinda nutty to think 2-3 guys can bang off 3-4 regular size Mansion homes worth of walls and ceilings in 10 days. Impossible. I'm anticipating that he's going to be less than happy with my analysis, but there's just No Way to make any money at that rate and he needs to hear it before accepting the contract.. not after completing it and realizing that he's left with $300 after he pays everyone.

Anyways - just a warning not to partner up with people who cannot do math and refuse to learn. It's a recipe for getting burned and wasting your time doing work you won't be paid for. (Some jobs I've made money working with him, but we should make money on Every job.) Do the math. Find out what the job pays and what the costs are and what the splits are proposed to be Before taking it on. (Something he's failed to do at times and I trusted he knew we'd be paid.)

Personally, I think he should Never do a job for this contractor again EVER as it's the one that burned him hard on the custom residential work. So what if it pays 10 cents more of a piece rate to do? It takes more than 20% longer time to do the work so pays even less by the hour! IMO, he should either decline the work and tell him to go abuse someone else (and he will - and he'll contract to someone who abuses their workers, probably illegal unskilled workers they pay $150/day or whatever) OR accept the contract with no intention of following through and doing one moment of work on it. Screw this guy like he screwed us on the house. Leave him hanging high and dry scrambling to find a crew available at the last second capable of taking on such a large job at such a low price.. possibly making him miss his deadline and Hopefully in that case costing him a fine or penalty for being late. He'd deserve that, IMO.


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goldfish21
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21 Dec 2023, 4:48 pm

Chatted with this guy on the phone a couple days ago and cautioned him to get a Lot more info about this prospective contract before agreeing to do it at that price. A lot of variables could make the difference between being able to make okay money on it vs. losing your shirt and being totally upside down owing subcontractors at the end of the job.

Basically, you have to see the site in person when it's ready to start to determine if it's worth accepting at that price. If the site is wide open and clear and the lift(s) have large platforms And there isn't a zillion little things to fix, just straight forward joints And they've been minimized etc etc then it's Possible to make fair money on it for the time involved. One potential good thing is this other guy that has some automated tools he's fast at using that would save serious time.

But if the place is a mess, others are working all over, there's tons of broken bits to be repaired, excessive number of joints vs. surface area etc etc then it's the perfect recipe for taking twice as much time as it should and a sure fire way to make a terribly low paycheque for the ~3 mansions worth of work involved.

I'm sure I'll hear more about it before it's ready. If the general contractor wants an answer before it's ready to assess, then I guess he has to decide if he's willing to bail on the guy if it seems he's going to get screwed. Personally, I'd have no problem bailing on this general contractor because he f****d us over before.. so if he wants to hear "Yes, I'll do it," and then turns over an awful site and job to be done.. then F him and the horse he rode in on if we take one look, leave, and don't return.


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goldfish21
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02 Jan 2024, 6:27 pm

:lol: There is still a possibility he might accept this contract and I might commit to working it.

There are still a bunch of unknown variables that are sort of make or break on whether you can make okay money on the job Or whether you’d end up working your ass off to earn a very low wage.

I don’t know but the general contractor might want an answer too soon, before enough info is available to make an educated decision. Ideally the job would be Ready To Start before deciding because you literally have to see the quality of the workmanship as well as the layout and cleanliness of the site and what resources are provided to assist in terms of lifts and scaffolds.

Best case scenario you work your ass off and make barely acceptable hourly money, worst case you make starting apprentice type money and would have been better off getting a job. Not sure yet what’s up with this particular job But if I sign on to do it then the takeaway I Have To sell myself on is that it would be a physical GRIND to complete and it would literally make me stronger and burn off some excess fat faster than any other contract job would do. It would truly be punishing to complete in the timeline they’d need it done by.. But, a good workout.


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Sweetleaf
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05 Jan 2024, 12:00 am

Well, I can't do math well, but I also don't take jobs that require that. Currently working at a laundry/dry cleaning place and for sure doing math has not come up at all at least for my part of the job.


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goldfish21
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05 Jan 2024, 1:17 am

Sweetleaf wrote:
Well, I can't do math well, but I also don't take jobs that require that. Currently working at a laundry/dry cleaning place and for sure doing math has not come up at all at least for my part of the job.

The job isn’t doing math. It’s plying a trade. But we have to do math to determine if the rate of pay offered is reasonable or not.

Got some updated figures today. It’s 15,000sf of board (not 20k) and half of it is ceiling space. (7500sf of ceiling is a lot) Still too many unknown variables to know of its worth it or a pita waste of time.

But in general I think best case scenario it would Maybe be worth it, worst case totally not worth it.. depends. At least I hear the offer is 30% higher than the brutally low rate this guy paid on a custom house. Buuuut if it takes 30%+ longer/sf to do due to site logistics then it’s an even worse deal by the hour.


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IsabellaLinton
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05 Jan 2024, 3:05 am

Why should Sweetleaf be wary, then?


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goldfish21
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05 Jan 2024, 1:55 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Why should Sweetleaf be wary, then?

Even if a role doesn't require math to complete the job, if she works With Someone who's role it is to assess whether the job pays well enough or not to be considered worth doing and That Person can't do math.. then she could end up in a situation where she does not get paid what she's expecting to get paid.

That's pretty much what happened to me working on one house with this guy. He didn't get all the information and do calculations before accepting the contract. He assumed he could afford to pay me/another $x/hr, but then when the dust settled we were paid MUCH LESS. So much lower that none of us would have taken the job and would have either sought a different job or taken time off instead of working hard doing custom work for ultra low wages.

That's why it's critical to be wary of working with/for people who can't do math. Might get screwed.. you take the gig expecting to get paid $x/hr as promised, then the person who can't do math gets paid from the general contractor and you do some math together and realize there isn't nearly enough money in the job to cover wages and everyone is getting f****d.

Make more sense now?

Moot if you take a long term job with a known employer that's stable and always pays their payroll. Different scenario when it's flat rate or variable piece rate contracts and you agree to complete the work for the price offered and then it depends entirely on how long it takes to do the work whether it's worth it or not.. and when the guy making the deal cannot do math, sometimes you get really screwed.


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funeralxempire
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05 Jan 2024, 1:56 pm

I think this only matters if their math skills are relevant to the work being done.


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goldfish21
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05 Jan 2024, 2:09 pm

funeralxempire wrote:
I think this only matters if their math skills are relevant to the work being done.

Not even.

The job itself doesn't have to require math.

It's doing math to determine whether the rate of pay is acceptable/adequate or it isn't before you accept the job.

If you work with someone who can't do math and doesn't even attempt to do it all before accepting a contract, you could end up in a situation like me where After the work is completed they do the fine math on the value of the contract and your contractor buddy gets paid out a lot less money than he was expecting and then cannot afford to pay you the hourly rate agreed on and basically says "Well, we all just go screwed here..." and we divide up a much smaller pot of money, resulting in my pay being so low for the job I'd have never agreed to do it otherwise had we known all the figures in advance.

Our job duties themselves don't require much at all in the way of math, only doing. Hell, we don't even need to measure anything with a tape measure almost EVER as even cutting things to a precision fit is all just a relative size.. cut it a little long, put it in place and make a mark of how much more to cut off for a perfect fit. No math, only doing. Math is limited to approximating how much material is required basically.

But when it comes to getting paid there are several ways to get paid for a job. Flat rate, hourly, variable piece rate etc. Buddy knew it was a piece rate job and took the guy's word for the variable size. Upon measurement it was fewer sf so that portion of the job paid less. Then he Assumed he'd get paid more for the custom time consuming work in the stairwells, earthquake anchors, high ceilings on the main floor, custom trimless doorframes and flush window boxes etc etc -> Nope! Zero variances/extra pay, just a flat ULTRA LOW piece rate /sf + very low piece rate per linear foot of trim -> which no quality contractor would agree to because it's time consuming work that can't be done properly with the kind of lightning speed required to make any money at all at the cheapest in the industry piece rate.. he'd have just declined the contract and told the guy to call in a sh***y crew and accept whatever result he gets if that's his offer. But he didn't confirm with the general how the pay was going to be calculated before we started the job.. he assumed it was the low rate for the simpler lower ceiling basement suites (that he was lied to about their size and told they had more sf than they did) and really should have gotten all of the figures up front to Know what the offer is rather than just assume that the general contractor will pay him fairly upon completion. (and no, he didn't lie to me in order to not pay me.. I was there when he got screwed. He can't do math, but he's honest/ethical.)

It's the math required by your partners if they're in charge of determining how much, or whether or not, you're going to get PAID.


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funeralxempire
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05 Jan 2024, 2:51 pm

goldfish21 wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
I think this only matters if their math skills are relevant to the work being done.

Not even.

The job itself doesn't have to require math.

It's doing math to determine whether the rate of pay is acceptable/adequate or it isn't before you accept the job.

If you work with someone who can't do math and doesn't even attempt to do it all before accepting a contract, you could end up in a situation like me where After the work is completed they do the fine math on the value of the contract and your contractor buddy gets paid out a lot less money than he was expecting and then cannot afford to pay you the hourly rate agreed on and basically says "Well, we all just go screwed here..." and we divide up a much smaller pot of money, resulting in my pay being so low for the job I'd have never agreed to do it otherwise had we known all the figures in advance.

Our job duties themselves don't require much at all in the way of math, only doing. Hell, we don't even need to measure anything with a tape measure almost EVER as even cutting things to a precision fit is all just a relative size.. cut it a little long, put it in place and make a mark of how much more to cut off for a perfect fit. No math, only doing. Math is limited to approximating how much material is required basically.

But when it comes to getting paid there are several ways to get paid for a job. Flat rate, hourly, variable piece rate etc. Buddy knew it was a piece rate job and took the guy's word for the variable size. Upon measurement it was fewer sf so that portion of the job paid less. Then he Assumed he'd get paid more for the custom time consuming work in the stairwells, earthquake anchors, high ceilings on the main floor, custom trimless doorframes and flush window boxes etc etc -> Nope! Zero variances/extra pay, just a flat ULTRA LOW piece rate /sf + very low piece rate per linear foot of trim -> which no quality contractor would agree to because it's time consuming work that can't be done properly with the kind of lightning speed required to make any money at all at the cheapest in the industry piece rate.. he'd have just declined the contract and told the guy to call in a sh***y crew and accept whatever result he gets if that's his offer. But he didn't confirm with the general how the pay was going to be calculated before we started the job.. he assumed it was the low rate for the simpler lower ceiling basement suites (that he was lied to about their size and told they had more sf than they did) and really should have gotten all of the figures up front to Know what the offer is rather than just assume that the general contractor will pay him fairly upon completion. (and no, he didn't lie to me in order to not pay me.. I was there when he got screwed. He can't do math, but he's honest/ethical.)

It's the math required by your partners if they're in charge of determining how much, or whether or not, you're going to get PAID.


I'd lump all of that as 'relevant to the work being done'. I don't just mean the primary job duties by work, but also any tasks that support that work.

A boss or a subcontractor will always have work that involves math, but the person next to you on an assembly line (for example) can have very low numeracy and it's likely never to become your problem. There's a lot of relatively low skilled jobs where poor numeracy isn't going to be a problem of the sort that it is in the situation that you describe.


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goldfish21
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05 Jan 2024, 3:29 pm

funeralxempire wrote:
I'd lump all of that as 'relevant to the work being done'. I don't just mean the primary job duties by work, but also any tasks that support that work.

A boss or a subcontractor will always have work that involves math, but the person next to you on an assembly line (for example) can have very low numeracy and it's likely never to become your problem. There's a lot of relatively low skilled jobs where poor numeracy isn't going to be a problem of the sort that it is in the situation that you describe.

..the entire thread is about the situation I described.. where a work partner's inability to do math can lead to you not getting paid.


As for the job that inspired this thread, I still think buddy is out to lunch thinking we can bang off 15,000sf in 2 weeks with 3 guys. That's 2 large-ish mansions worth of work, and half of it is ceilings. I think it's more like 3 weeks and we'd end up working for $200/day, which is hella low. The time constraint may end up coming down to what type of lift they have and how many. IF we could make $350-400+/day for working quickly then it'd be worth it, but if we're limited by having use of only one small lift and so it takes many more days.. better off doing smaller jobs for bigger money than taking on a big one for some bread & butter for a few weeks and exhausting yourself for $200/day. Hard to know exactly how efficient you can be doing the job until the moment you get started, really. Too many variables.. but my spidey senses tell me we'd be Lucky to make $200/day out of this job and if we do it it's going to be punishing work without a big payday for it.


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13 Jan 2024, 4:56 am

The main problem, from what I'm seeing, is that someone who can't do math is (sometimes) in charge of something that affects your income. Squashing that, if at all possible, just leaves the situation where he's wrecking his own income/situation/life because of it, but if you're not financially tied to him that's less of an issue - all you can do is warn him, tell him to get better at math, and then walk away.

Admittedly, there are potential subtleties - if he's operating in a very small industry and undercutting everyone's rates at a loss to himself, is that going to undermine everyone else? And for how long until he can't afford to do that any more?

If you are tied to him financially - for example, if he's in charge of costing/accepting any jobs for a company or division you're working for - and he's not taking advice and it looks like he's still going to be screwing things up into the future, it might be time to look into alternative work options; specifically, those which don't have himself and your paycheck linked in any way. Depending on circumstances, that might mean working in another team, working in another division, or working for another employer.