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Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,537
Registered: ‎03-15-2010

Why I DREAD home improvement projects

I have to admit it is not the $$$ it is the aggravation and time that make me cringe. When we even think about a project.

How many contractors (trades people) do you have to call on average to get something done?

Yesterday, I went through my project book and my average is 20 to get at least ONE quote.

--My rule(s) of thumb is:

--I will not call a worker more than 3 times to follow up, if they can not return my call I move on.

--If they no call/no show for an appt.-done, moving on

They are always excited when they hear our budget and want the job, but if I ask for a quote in writing or a timeline of how long we should plan, we always get the same response "I will go back to my office put something together and get back to you." And we wait....

We even tried a 'Bundle Package' where my friends and family would also hire them (as we all are not handy people) thinking we would get priority if they knew there was guaranteed work valued at several thousand dollars, since NONE of us have had luck. !??!

We got a 'glowing' recommendation for a tile guy, twice he cancelled due to an 'emergency,' twice he showed up at a time we did not have an appt so no one was home and once he was a no call no show; well he did call me a week later-not to apologize but to ask if he could come over NOW. {#emotions_dlg.angry}

Is there a secret to working with contractors my friends and I are baffled?

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,920
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

I'll be watching the responses on this thread because I seem to have had the same experiences as the original poster. I know some of my jobs are small compared to a whole-house renovation or room addition, but aren't there any good contractors who want fill-in work? I can be flexible about timing, but it seems impossible to get a competent trades person who will make a bid and then show up to do the work.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,180
Registered: ‎04-10-2012

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

I hear you, and I have been at my wits end with trying to get someone to show up, or call back on a bid for a project or repair job.And if they do respond, are they even honest !? I had one AC company tell me my roof unit was shot and I needed a new one and it would cost me thousands, got a second opinion and it was simply a small sixty five dollar part that needed replacing.DH is not a handy man at all so my list of things that need fixing is growing.I have learned to do some repairs myself but can't do the plumbing or electrical etc.
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Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,537
Registered: ‎03-15-2010

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

I am glad to hear I am not alone on this.

I always try to get more than one opinion on a project or repair to weed out the price gougers, but it is tough.

We have THOUSANDS of $$ in materials tile, hardwood etc in our basement just waiting to be installed. We try to make it easier for the installers, just pick a date to start working all the materials are on site ready to go.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,180
Registered: ‎04-10-2012

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

It's mind boggling, isn't it ? I've found it to be even worse in our area up in northern Idaho where our summer place is. I had a wood stove company tell me "we don't like that brand of pellet stove company, so we refuse to do any repairs or maintenance on them."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 20,019
Registered: ‎08-08-2010

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

I was beginning to think it was just us. We have tried to hire the most renowned and highly recommended contractors in our area, and they get right out, but the quotes never come, or when they come, they contain brands of products we did not discuss (not the higher dollar ones we asked for). We ask when they could do the job, and we wait weeks for an answer, and sometimes we never hear back from them.

We never dicker over price with a contractor, and are fine with a long wait to start the job, so I don't know what the problem is. Is there just too much work out there, or what?

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,180
Registered: ‎04-10-2012

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

I'm at the point where if someone actually shows up and does a good job for a decent price, I wonder where's the catch and is this person for real ! I wish I would have gone to carpentry and plumbing school ):
Honored Contributor
Posts: 54,451
Registered: ‎03-29-2012

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

When I did about 15K worth of repairs of my first house, I had exactly ONE contractor who eventually came out, gave an estimate, and did the work. I didn't think 15K was a minor job, but apparently no one else was interested. I found him through my Realtor, who knew him from doing some work on her house.

When I moved out of state for my job, I was terrified that I would never find a contractor for repairs and updates. I ended up living next to a man who had a plumbing company van. I put a Post It on his windshield and asked him to call me. He called me and came over and did the work. To my surprise, I learned that he is the co-owner of the business, and one side of the business is plumbing and the other side is HVAC. Then, when I bought my new place, he did a few things upon taking possession, and I asked him if he knew anyone in the general contracting business. He set me up with a buddy, and in our first conversation we figured out that his wife was my yoga teacher. We've been together since 2010, and he has done most of the major work. The first thing he did was all the interior painting (different colors) and a new roof. He is a home builder, but when the recession hit he moved into contracting/remodeling/repairs. He is glad to take the "small" projects that may lead to larger projects. To date, he has gutted my kitchen and remodeled it and partially gutted and remodeled two baths. I can leave him a key and not babysit him, and the work gets done.

My plumber also hooked me up with an electrician, who changed out EVERY light fixture inside and outside of the house, rewired the smoke alarms, replaced the bathroom fans, and updated the electrical outlets in some areas. When he went back to commercial electrical work, my contractor gave me a new electrician's name, who came out (same day) and switched out a panel for the kitchen.

In the meantime, I found out that a co-worker's husband (a retired engineer) has a handyman service in his retirement (licensed and bonded) so he has also been over to do work. Because he is super fastidious and detailed oriented (once an engineer, always an engineer), I give him the projects that my general contractor would not be "thrilled" to do. He has painted the exterior of my house and trim, replaced drywall and hand matched a "popcorn" ceiling, and now he is going to replace the front door. I give him a key and he does the work when I'm not home.

The key to working with ALL of these people is that I know the original people, so I am grateful to have a referral to new professionals. They know that I'm a teacher, so I am gone by 7:00. I need to be able to leave them a key (or wait until summer) so they can work while I work. Otherwise, I have to plan an entire sub day just to be able to meet them. In return, I am very flexible with my time/expectations. I e-mailed my engineer friend a week ago (figuring he was gone for Easter) and he just wrote me back saying that he would take care of the door but couldn't do it until May 19th. No worries on my end, so I e-mailed him back and I know that it will get taken care of in May. Even if I had an emergency, if my other contractor friend couldn't take care of it, it may take me until May 19 to find someone from the Yellow Pages who will come out and give an estimate.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,180
Registered: ‎04-10-2012

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

Lola...sounds like you've had great luck. My builder gave me his landscapers name and number to do my irrigation system, but after I paid him big bucks to install, he would never return my calls for maintenance or repairs. Guess he only wants the big money jobs, doesn't care about maintaining good customer relationships.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,997
Registered: ‎03-19-2010

Re: Why I DREAD home improvement projects

We share the same issues stated. So have other family members. When we do find someone reliable, skilled and honest, its like gold. It is indeed frustrating because we are the type of people who are very patient and fair minded. We'll arrange our schedule to accommodate them.

We had selected someone to install a multi level stone wall. He did a beautiful job and kept us updated even while we were out of town. During his slow season he came in and did some interior work. We thought bingo, we finally found some one reliable. Well when we called for another job, he never returned our calls. I finally left a message telling him if he was not interested in the job just please call and let us know, no hard feelings. You guessed it, never heard a word back.

If someone could enlighten me to why so many contractors are like this I'd appreciate knowing.