How to Hire Any Contractor (except a plumber!)
Thursday, August 23, 2012 • 8:13am
From the painter who never finishes the job in Murphy Brown to Tom Hanks in the Money Pit, our comedies are full of contracting horror stories. When hiring someone to work in your home, making the wrong decision can be a giant pain in the rear end. Fortunately, if you know what to look for, you will find it easy to to avoid becoming the punch line in your own remodeling story.
1. References from your contractor mean absolutely nothing. I know that I am going against the grain on this one, but after 20 years in the business, I can tell you that no contractor is going to give you the names and phone numbers of people that don’t like them. In the most simple of terms, an estimate is a job interview and the contractor is going to put their best foot forward. Ask your contractor who he has worked for in your neighborhood and try to find someone you already know that he has worked for. This lets you get honest feedback from a friend. Google and Angie’s List can also give you information about your contractor that is worth considering, most other review sites are too easily gamed.
If the CEO of Yahoo can lie about his resume, so can your contractor.
2. Hire local. The size of the company doesn’t matter, but their location does. If you are an hour away from their normal service area, your job will become a problem instead of a money maker. Local companies don’t have the option of leaving a problem behind.
How much traffic do you like to sit in?
3. Punctuality, phone calls and e-mail. Response time is a habit. Companies tend to be always good with their communication or always bad with it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you will become “more important” to your contractor as the job progresses. The way the company treats you before you hire them is the absolute best you will get from them, and will often get worse as the job progresses.
When you call your contractor, are you expecting to get his voicemail or are you expecting him to answer the phone?
4. There is the perfect contractor for every customer. You will never find a “perfect” contractor, but you can find one that is perfect for you. Companies come in all shapes and size with people of all types of personalities. You may enjoy a contractor that loves to talk, one you never see that can work in the house while you are at work or even one who takes 4 times as long to complete the job but almost becomes an extension of your family.
Do you personally enjoy the way your contractor runs his business?
5. If you make a mistake, cut your losses sooner rather than later. In the contracting world, there are always surprises and issues. The way your contractor deals with these issues is what separates the bad contractors from the good contractors. If your contractor isn’t showing up to start the job, isn’t returning your phone calls or is giving you an attitude, you should find a way out as quick as possible. I’m constantly amazed at customers that have a bad experience with a contractor but keep giving them more work because he is “already at my house.” Dealing with contractors doesn’t have to be painful.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
6. What is up with plumbers? As far as I can tell, Men are from Mars, Women are Venus and Plumbers are from Neptune. Do you cringe when your plumber hands you your repair bill? I have known that feeling. I think there is a secret math class that plumbers take to help them figure out their bill. (2 hours of labor x their child’s college tuition / their car payment = your plumbing bill) All kidding aside, if you find a good and reasonable plumber, make sure you show them your appreciation and keep them happy.
If you have a question about your home or small business, or even if you want to know who my favorite plumber is, feel free to send me an e-mail at Ty.Monk@MonksHomeImprovements.com For a full list of the services we offer at Monk's visit our website MonksHomeImprovements.com If you would like to see us in action, visit our Carpentery and Painting Blog.
Ty Monk, Founder, Monk's Home Improvements
I’ve been maintaining and renovating homes since I was 14 years old. I started as a helper for a local contracting company in Maplewood, NJ in 1988. Over the years I’ve held every job in the business from painting and carpentry, to answering the phones in our office. In 2007 I founded Monk’s Painting and grew it into the company it is today. I’ve made every effort to take the simple lessons of two decades in the industry and make it our standard way of doing business.
Over the last two decades I’ve been able to put together a team of people and companies that truly care about the product they produce and the customers they work for. We run a family business with a family friendly atmosphere. My wife Viviane handles all the billing and my brother Trevor is part of the company. On most days you will find the dogs running around the office. My name is on every job we produce and the job we take care of for you matters to me personally. If you aren’t happy with our work, I’m always personally available to come to your job site to guarantee your satisfaction.
Visit us on the web at www.monkshomeimprovements.com
The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.