It is widely known that the home remodel industry is rife with unsavory characters. The common slick pushy sales man who wears way too much cologne. One thing that truly chaps my hide is when people move forward and hire someone because they quoted them a “super deal.” The customer was also promised the world in expensive upgrades, etc., etc. This job only has two roads. One leads to the $1 Fare and the other to the magic show. The $1 is when a customer feels like they are on a rollercoaster that rattles and is a terrifying ride. Shoddy work and no return phone calls from the contractor. The magic show is when the contractor disappears with the customer’s money and abandons the project. For a while I thought that the great recession had killed off most of these degenerate self-proclaimed ‘contractors.’ As the economy continues to grow I have noticed that some of these scumbags are slithering their way back into the market. If you can sense my contempt for these sleazy people it because they cause an enormous amount of havoc in the construction industry. Bad contractors cause home owner major anxiety. When I first meet with people it takes about 15 minutes for them to get comfortable with me. I like to think that my ethics and reputation help set their mind at ease. In most cases this is true, but I do notice more often than not people have their defenses up.
So where do good projects go bad?
The times that I have come in to repair shoddy work the home owners explain to me that they hired the “guy” because he was “cheap” and someone recommended him. The fact is that for small handy man type projects, $100 or $200 buck, no big deal. If you are going to remodel a major portion of your house, get a top notch person! Good work is not cheap and cheap work ends up costing you big bucks. It is better to know upfront the true cost and time frame than gambling your bank account and home on a fly by night operator.
I just bid against two other contractors on a major project in Pacific Palisades. Two of the other bids were $20,000 and $40,000 less than my bid. This had not happened to me in about 2 years. I was baffled by the disparity. I double checked my numbers and did the unmentionable, I asked the home owner to let me see the other bids! He emailed them over to me. One bid was about half a page in length with no detail specification about material or labor costs. The other bid was about 5 pages with countless grammatical errors. The first one was the lowest in cost and had the least amount of detail. The second one had more detail but major deficiency in it cost structure. The project value was over $120,000 and both of these bids failed to detail the quality, quantity of the materials, time and labor needed in order to complete the proposed project. I am proud to say that our firm was awarded the contract at a fair price.
I can only summaries why I think so many construction projects are victims of bad results:
- Lack of ethics by the contractor
- Lack of knowledge by the contractor
- Lack of an accurate job scope, its cost and its timeline.
- Lack of a construction plan: project planning and scheduling- Contingency planning.
Tips for staying out of trouble:
- Hire the contractor not the estimate: Look for someone who is ethical, competent and passionate about building. Then deal with price.
- Check out some of the work that they have completed.
- Read online reviews and ask for references.
- It is important that you feel comfortable with the contractor.
Do you have any nightmare contractor stories? Post your comments, we love to hear from our readers.