Choosing a contractor

Choosing a contractor can be a difficult task.  It is hectic enough to know that your premises needs work and you would need to hire someone.  But when clients go on a search to find the contractor of their choice, the driving factor “the price” is the key element in their decision making.  So, this blog is dedicated to contractors work ethics and why one contractor may be different from another, and hopefully, it will benefit you in your decision making choosing the right contractor for yourself.

A close family member of mine Sophia and Johnny, a couple in their 60’s  asked me to give them a quote to paint their beautiful home of approximately 3000 sq. ft. of interior space.  At the time, I quoted them $5800 plus $500 for paint allowance for the entire work.  Mind you my family members thought I was giving them a price that was unreasonable.  Two weeks later they called me bragging that they found a contractor from the weekly “—saver” newspaper and that they were going to do the entire work, plus patching some problem areas all for $1800, and regardless they would have to purchase the paint themselves – how hard could it be, it’s only paint, right?  I told them before they hire him, give him one room to paint just to see the quality of his job, and if they are pleased with it, to give him other rooms of the house.  That contractor didn’t want to do that, it was all or none.

On they go to their nearest Home Depot store, and they purchased over $700 worth of paint to have it ready for their “painting contractor” in the next few days.  With approximately 25 gallons of paint, they loaded up their car not realizing that the amount of time they’ve spent in the store and the amount of work they’ve done.  They didn’t realize until later that once their car was loaded, how dangerous it was driving back home with such a heavy car.  But that was not the issue, as they got home just fine.  The next day the contractor showed up with his crew of 5 and they went to town on the house with the paint job.  Sophia had to work, so she left behind the workers with her husband Johnny to watch over throughout the day.

Sophia came back to a disaster.  All their fine furniture that they’ve paid top dollar for had become damaged due to dripping of paint, paint smudges, or just plain lack of attention when moving them.  The painting job although not complete, was noticed that it was poor quality.  The workers tried to cut the ceiling with a paint brush and without experience, they’ve smudged the ceiling with wall paint, and decided to poorly wipe it off.  Windows frames where not cut properly or straight, paint on the floor, paint on the carpeting on the upper floors.  But worst of it, things were missing!  Not anything that has substantial value, but that’s not the point – it’s the principal behind it.   In addition, the paint job, well……..awful.

Meanwhile, this burden also produced a rift between Johnny an Sofia, as how difficult was it to watch over some workers.  But certainly it wasn’t Johnny’s fault, as Johnny couldn’t be in multiple places at the same time.   Sophia called me that same night in a panic, with the basic question “what should I do?”  I told her, cut your loses, pay the contractor, and tell him thank you, no thank you.

She didn’t listen.  She was well invested in the paint and paid 50% to the contractor prior to the commencement of work.  Her next decision was that she is going set the contractor a piece of her mind, and set him straight.  Next morning, she did exactly that, and the contractor went to home depot to purchase the cheapest plastic covering to place on the floor and the furniture.

Sophia came back to another set of calamity, and now worse than before.  It’s not that the damages were any different than before, but they were more of them.  Her talk with her contractor went on deaf ears.  And, at the same time, the contractor wanted to be paid for a great job he just finished – a true Rembrandt!

So, why go thorough the motions of writing this story?  I think for you the reader, it is beneficial to understand when did Sophia and Johnny’s problem first started.  If you guessed that it was when the contractor didn’t go to pick up the paint or have it delivered, you would be correct.  Mind you, who are the people coming into your home?  Most people have good intentions, and with a bit of reasonable expectations that you may have, you would want people to behave just like yourself.

Even with the most simple jobs we get, we go through the steps, so the client knows what to expect.  We like to keep our clients clued in, and with reasonable description, and completion date.  I agree that price is a factor of making a decision, but it should not be the only factor.  I generally tell people “if it’s too good to be true, it’s really to good to be true.”  Ask your contractor reasonable questions, and if the answers are dismissive or he avoids answering the question, a red flag should come up.

Penny saved, pound foolish – Sophia and Johnny now spent another $6300 with us, to correct their problem, they’ve learned their lesson, but also paid the price additionally to have their furniture repaired.  Don’t get fooled, choose wisely.