“Dealing with Contractors” Club

When we moved into our apartment five years ago, we did a hefty remodel. We ripped out and reinstalled 1,800 square feet of hardwood floor, moved around three walls, removed the popcorn (and asbestos) off our ceiling, and changed out 13 closet doors.

The contractor we selected had two things going for him: he came as a referral from a trusty source and he gave us the best price, by far, but never has the phrase, “You get what you pay for” felt so true. The renovation took double the projected time (familiar story), the work he did was below mediocre, and he abandoned the project before it was complete. Our 13 unpainted, uninstalled doors stood stacked like dominoes against our wall as our one year old crawled around 13 closets with no doors. The story ends with a trip to civil court, where we won but didn’t get any money back for the shoddy work we’d eventually redo ourselves.

The shitty contractor experience scarred us thoroughly. After the flood, we conducted comprehensive contractor research, gathering recommendations from multiple sources and using an Internet referral service. We scheduled seven walk-throughs and I asked each one when they could give me an estimate. They all said, “Friday.” It’s a week beyond and I’ve gotten four, with the promise of a fifth after I give him a template.

One guy went to the wrong address even though I texted it to him twice. Attention to detail: fail. Another guy seemed overwhelmed by the work and didn’t understand how the floor was laid; unfit for the job. Only one out of seven noticed a major electrical flaw. One woman came and I was excited to see a female represented and the first one to arrive, promptly and professionally. She went above and beyond promising kitchen renderings. She promised an estimate by the end of the week; I’ve got nothing.

Interjection: I should do a Rossen Reports-style investigation on these contractors.

I am like the contractor managing the contractors. I schedule appointments, I debrief them on the situation, I provide detailed notes, I follow up when they disappear. I find myself wondering, why I even hire a contractor at all. I should just hire the floor layers separately, the wall fixers, the kitchen installers. Who’s going to manage my project better than me? I’m voting to cut the middle man out.

2 thoughts on ““Dealing with Contractors” Club

  1. Good idea! That’s exactly what we did building our house, acting as general contractor and saving at least 10% of the total cost. Any way you handle it, building/remodeling can try your patience! Good luck. I empathize with you.

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