Construction is a very broad industry, you can find several niches from carpentry to renovation, from high-end homes to high-rise buildings. Demolition, excavation, and abatement are some important niches when it comes to construction.
Episode 55 of “The Construction Life” has a 3-in-1 business, unlike other companies, Michael offers several services under one roof. Michael had an interest in the trade because of his father who was a contractor with 60 years of experience in construction as he started when he was just 15. He used to spend summers with his father learning the trade. He started in real estate, finance, investment, and other fields, but due to personal reasons, he needed to do something to earn more money. He asked his father who was handling 3 to 4 big condo reno projects and needed someone for demolition and asked him why don’t Michael start this business so they could work together. Michael outsourced people and succeeded in the business.
Put Money Back In Your Business
An important lesson not for just a contractor but any businessperson working out there is to keep and put some amount of the earned money back into the business. You don’t just save your future, but you also help your business get bigger.
Five Years Rule
According to Michael, the first five years of your business are very important as you are building a base for it. You juggle business, you juggle money, you juggle your network and make relationships, put money back into your business in the first five years, and after that, you have built a strong groundwork for your business.
After explaining the three levels of abatement, Michael explains how he gets scared when he sees workers not taking health and safety precautions. Some don’t even wear masks. They don’t realize that the damage they are making is irreversible. You cannot replace your lungs and it is literally a matter of life and death. You should educate the workers, and have supervisors in the field.
When you are working on a project, for example, a bathroom, you are not just a demolition company, you are a cleaning company. You will remove all the dust and crap so people can work in there safe and healthy.
Michael says that people think that the asbestos and the dust will settle down in 5 to 10 minutes, but in fact, the asbestos remains airborne for around 72 hours and could cause dangerous diseases including cancer.
Michael has a company that separates all their debris, it goes to different landfills because they are environment friendly. He says that when he points out to clients that there are nine-by-nine tiles in the basement that might have asbestos so their first question is what will be the cost? People should understand that the one quoting a very low price, is not doing it the right/safe way. Some contractors even say to hide it, but what if they would want to build there something in the future? Another tradesperson will have to take it out, and it shows you don’t respect the next trade or the health of the next trade.
Despite the high price, Michael makes sure to use all the accessories needed to keep his employees safe. They bring air scrubbers to every single job. So even if it’s not asbestos, they have an air scrubber there just for the health of their workers and the health of the people that are on the job site. Even a tiny air scrubber can cost you over a thousand dollars, but it is worth it. How much does your life cost?
Michael is a very broad-minded businessperson who does not prefer anyone on the basis of their gender. He hires people on merit only and even shared an incident where one of his best workers was stopped from working just because she is not a man! Though she worked 10 times better than a regular tradesman. The only thing that should matter is efficiency and skill.
Michael says that the cost and time that you spend to train your workers makes you retain the employees you are dependent on. He says that even if he has not received the payments, he makes sure to pay his workers on time. A contractor should save some money for the rainy days and make sure to retain the employees who are worth it.
Demolition is not always as smooth and easy as it seems in Instagram posts. There are always incidents where you cut the wrong pipe, where you break a window, or where you have a collapse for any reason. There’s always an ugly side to it because it’s demolition at the end of the day.
However, while choosing the right contractor you should see if the company you hire cares about accountability or not. So, choose the one who is willing to repair the broken window.
When it comes to pricing, a demolition company cannot work on the given budget. They don’t know what they are dealing with until they visit the site and assess it.
No Job Is An Easy Job
It’s very unfair as people think that demolition doesn’t require a skill. Michael says that even if you take the skill out of it, no one can do this job without proper training and certification. They should know their work to do it right.
Michael also discussed how mold can be dangerous, and how people can get allergies and health issues due to it. The example of a person who got mold on his tongue while cleaning was horrifying. So instead of taking such a risk, hire someone who is an expert in this field and let them do it.
Michael told how they deal with a lot of the appliances. How it’s funny that clients expect them to move all these appliances. Where appliances are not a part of the structure, it’s decorative. Michael says that he has to work with appliances as well as he cannot say no to clients, but he makes sure to take this in writing that he won’t be responsible for the wear and tear of the appliances.