Contractors In Your Home...How Do You Deal With Them?

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Rich, May 30, 2019.

  1. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    How do you deal with contractors in your home? Any contractors, any jobs. Inside and outside. Do you know what to look for when trying to find a contractor? Can you share any experiences?

    Rich
     
  2. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    It has been a long while since I had a contractor do work in my home. But the things I remember was that the final cost was higher, the time to completion was off by 50% and the dirt and dust raised was almost unlivable! In the end they did a great job and I was happy but during the job I almost moved out.

    So a couple years ago I decided my 1940's house that hadn't had modernization done since the 70's needed a big upgrade, or just say the hell with it and buy a new house and sell the old one. I could do the upgrade for all cash and the house was paid for, so that was a serious contender. But the neighborhood was in sharp decline and any money's spent on that old house would be just money gone. And then I remembered the last big job I went through and this one would be bigger. New kitchen, new main bath, new roof, new siding with wrap. I figured that with the slowness that the contractors all seem to share that it would be a 6+ month project. I wasn't going to go that route unless I couldn't find a better alternative.

    Found a better alternative! Started looking at smaller, older houses that had been fairly recently remodeled that I could buy for cash (sub-$80K). There were quite a few available and all but one would have needed a fair bit of contractor work to get things where I would want them to be. The one was nearly perfect for my needs, small, inexpensive ($62K), in an older but decent neighborhood, well kept. All the things that made me want it, sadly it sold over that Xmas holiday while I was out of town. Changed up to newer homes but never found anything that caught my eye. Ended up buying a new construction home that I wanted from the first walk through. Figured that way all new no work needed.

    Well that was almost true. Nothing big of course, but lots of seemingly little things. Like flooring for the living room, big glass shower door for the shower and landscaping. Landscaping contractors should be bullwhipped!! I got 5 to come look and see the scope of work, maybe even more than that, 2 or 3 gave me quotes but none would commit to start date or even wild guess as to completion date. The rest wouldn't even give a quote or return calls since the work involved actual physical labor I suppose. Seems their idea of landscaping was plant a few things, maybe a border here or there, but not french drains or rock gardens. Finally a golfing buddy said he and his son did that kind of work and if I wasn't in a rush, could do it and shot me a price. They did it, they did it fairly quickly, and did it right.

    The one contractor that did a really fine job at a fair price and on time was the heating/cooling people. I had used them in the past at my old house and I wanted certain upgrades on the heating/cooling system. Got the ductwork sealed with Air-O-Seal, added full home air cleaner and steam whole home humidifier. Took them one full day with a crew of 4. In the end I got a very low electric bill ($113/month), clean air and proper humidity for comfort.
     
  3. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I just started this thread and I'm sitting here waiting for a contractor to show up. Dealing with a 10-12 "window". I know the guy is gonna show up around 12. Or later. This is something that always disturbs me. But wait I must.

    I have to get our deck redone and I can't believe the prices. Thing is, with the Internet, all the contractors have the same prices so there's not much competition or room to haggle. But I have leverage with this job, we want to get our kitchen redone and this contractor does kitchens too. He's gonna have to do a superb job on the deck to get the kitchen job. And he's gonna have to do a superb job on the kitchen if he wants to upgrade our bottom floor. That's leverage that actually works.

    Rich
     
  4. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I had our HVAC equipment upgraded a couple years ago. Completely new furnace, AC, hot water tank. Went with the most expensive contractor and that worked out surprisingly well. After 30 some years of suffering thru summer heat and winter cold the house is comfortable all year long. Job took two days, I watched the whole thing and saw nothing to complain about. Not thrilled with the price but every contractor I got in touch with had similar pricing. I spent a lot of time online checking out reviews of these companies. The review were spot on about the contractors. Still kinda shocked at the final cost but...

    Rich
     
  5. SledgeHammer

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    Depends. Unless you have the biggest job in town and are ready to go TODAY, he doesn't care. They're short sighted. Why "try" to get your other 2 jobs where he can just go somewhere else and do a $50K kitchen remodel?
     
  6. SledgeHammer

    SledgeHammer Icon

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    I had to do that too last year... got bids from $6k to $12k I believe. I had to replace my condenser maybe 5 yrs earlier and I didn't do my homework and the guy ripped me off and installed a garbage Goodman unit. Died after 5 yrs.

    This time around I did my homework. I went with the contractor that used American Standard equipment all around. Also happened to be the lowest quote. Yup, they caused a bit of damage in my house, some unrepairable. And they had to come out 2 or 3 times to fix stuff. And those 2 or 3 times included 2 missed appointments.

    EDIT: Oh yeah, this was the contractor who buried my SWM8 in the insulation ***grr*** it cooked itself to death after about 3 to 6 months. Good thing it didn't start a fire.
     
  7. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Now you're talking about the important thing. Money. Yes, indeed, contractors follow the money. You have to understand what a contractor's life is like. No steady salary, no benefits, no oversight. All these guys do is chase money. That's why I try to deal with companies, not specific contractors. A bit more expensive but they're more dependable. Contracting companies can send out crews and they retain those workers for years. In my area there are a lot of companies and they do compete with each other. If a company screws up a job and doesn't make it right you can always sue them. Try suing a private contractor. Yeah, you can do that but it's not easy. And, yeah, that 50K guess you made above is about what I think the kitchen is gonna end up costing, good guess! I put out 20 grand 20 years ago for the first kitchen upgrade, I'm thinking it's gonna be a lot more expensive this time.

    Rich
     
  8. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Yeah, the costs! When I bought this new house I had actually set up a budget for the 'little things'. Boy did I get sticker shock! NOTHING and I mean NOTHING was within the budget line prices I had thought would be enough. For instance, I figured a fence for the yard at $5K, lowest bid I got was double that. I decided not to pursue that as I had no real need for a fence, just a want.
     
  9. Athlon646464

    Athlon646464 Gold Members DBSTalk Gold Club

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    I do a lot myself. I have the time, and rather enjoy doing most things that need doing around the house. I'm good with mechanical stuff, electrical stuff and landscaping. Not so much when it comes to plumbing :confused:. I'll start a plumbing job, but I usually hate doing the work, and will have to call in reinforcements sometimes.

    When I don't have the time, or the job will be too big, I've used Thumbtack with some success, for both bidding as well as seeing reviews of those who contact me.

    Thumbtack – Start a project

    Also, I really like the advice this guy gives on how to do it yourself, but more importantly how to find someone reliable - AskTheBuilder. I followed his advice when we needed a new roof. He has several tips on how to find someone, but in my view this is the best tip he gave me:

    Go to your local hardware store (not one of the big box ones), and ask them who does a lot of the kind of work you are looking to have done. They know me in there, and the person I spoke to was happy to tell me who buys a lot of roofing material from them. He told me the guy has been doing business with them for years and has a great reputation. That is a great place to start. He also popped up on Thumbtack, by the way.

    Homepage - Ask the Builder

    A couple of weeks ago, the power window on my wife's 2007 Jeep Liberty broke. She loves her Jeep - it has only 31,000 miles on it. (The school where she teaches is less than a mile from our home.)

    I searched YouTube on how to replace the guts inside the Jeep's door, ordered the part from Amazon, and installed it in about 2 hours. That's how I do most 'major' repairs I think I can handle. I likely saved $300.

    The next 'big' thing I'm going to tackle over the next month or so is repair our brick sidewalk. It's 30 years old and has lost some of it's mortar and has a few cracked bricks. I should be able to do this myself even though I've never done masonry work in my life. :cool:
     
  10. WestDC

    WestDC Well-Known Member

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    Have you tried this site- HomeAdvisor - I've used it for a couple of small jobs - like changing a ceiling fan 24' - got a reasonable price and was able to Neo. a lower one.

    If you pricing your deck job you should be able to get at least 3 bids from home advisor or more. just a thought

    Last year we remolded our 20 old kitchen and 20 year old master bath + repaint the hole interior (3 floors) and fixed a few other things - I used the same CO that built my home 20 years to do it and it only took six weeks to complete
     
  11. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    You got a better range of prices than I did. When I said I went with the most expensive one there wasn't very much difference in pricing. All were in the same ballpark. I ended up using the one with the best reviews, least complaints. Just a few hundred bucks difference.

    Amazing how hot the SWMs get, isn't it? How they get that hot is beyond me. When I had cable the STBs were so hot I thought there was something wrong with them. I have one of my SWM16s mounted outside out of the sun and that thing is always hot to the touch.

    Rich
     
  12. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    We have white plastic (seems like PVC?) fencing on part of our property. $500 a panel. Don't even want to think how much that cost. But, it's made to last and our insurance company says they'll cover it for over 120 years. Yeah, "sticker shock". Now I'm wondering just how many panels I have...just took a walk and counted 43 panels. OMG.

    Rich
     
  13. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    There are some jobs best left to those that perform similar tasks normally. Brickwork is one of them, I think. I've done it but it never looks right. Siding is another. Plumbing is a horror story. Roofing? Who does that as a DYI thing? Even painting a house can be overwhelming. I have a lot of experience with painting, that's a job that I think really sucks.

    Rich
     
  14. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    It's gotten to the point here where we get practically the same bid from every contractor. I used to be a job estimator (among many other things) when I was working. I had access to a set of books that looked like the Encyclopedia Britannica but it was for estimating jobs. Now all that is online and the contractors have access to it.

    Rich
     
  15. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

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    Contractors are almost always late, or do not show or call at all.
    If multiple contractors are involved and you lay out how they need to coordinate, they will invariably show up before the previous contractor is ready for him. Then this pushes you out of line until the first contractor is ready for the second one. Now you just wait, and oh yes, this now puts you back with the first contractor.
    I had this happen to me when I converted 2 bathrooms into 1 and widened out 5 doorways for wider doors to allow for wheelchair access. This used carpenters, plumbers, electricians and flooring people.

    If you do not accept this, then you will go temporarily nuts.
     
  16. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Yeah, you have to be patient with contractors. Just getting them to show up on time is a problem. Mix in a few crafts and it's nightmare if you're not patient. But I had to deal with this on a very large scale when I was working, I'm kinda used to it. The contractors appreciate that patience.

    Rich
     
  17. Athlon646464

    Athlon646464 Gold Members DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Gonna buy a $3 bag of brick mortar and a mortar sponge and give it a go in one or two spots to see how it comes out. It doesn't look difficult at all when you watch the 'This Old House' video. :cool: If it looks good there, I'll do the whole thing myself.
     
  18. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    What do you look for in a contractor? First thing I look at is what he arrives in. If it's a spiffy new truck with nice signage...well, that's the first thing I look for. I figure if a guy pulls up in a rusted out beater I'm gonna have a problem. That's a generalization, of course.

    Rich
     
  19. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Those guys do that for a living...nothing is all that difficult if you do it for a living. But if it's only patchwork you need...

    Rich
     
  20. trh

    trh This Space for Sale

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    I've only had one professional at my house over the past several years. Electricians hooking up an outside 220v circuit. They did a great job and even fixed a fault with the equipment I bought (loose wire inside the equipment).

    At work, our AC "professionals" are sadly lacking. They installed a new HVAC unit and then one week later it stopped working. Turns out they installed the condensate drain line rising between the unit and the drain. So the condensate backed up and activated the float switch contained in the unit and shut it off. But we were paying for the lowest bidder, and I think the adage 'you get what you pay for' is pretty appropriate.

    Next month we start a bathroom remodel in our house. While I'm looking forward to the finished product, I'm not looking forward to the workers and what any problems that they may inflict on this job.
     

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