creative finance home renovation

Contractor from hell

Home Renovation

A contractor is the link between the house you bought and the house you want. A good one takes does a quality job within the budget and time constraints that you’ve set and tries to minimize your headaches as much as possible. This is is a story about what happens when you hire the wrong guy.

Upon gaining access to the home my dad and I bought, we saw that the place needed a lot of work. Thankfully, a lot of it was just cosmetic; new carpet and flooring; new paint and window treatments. There was also some work to be done to finish the kitchen and bathrooms. So my dad set out to find a contractor to do the job. It was near the end of the year in 2015, so people were busy with end-of-the-year parties and vacations. It was early January before he was able to get people over to the house to have a look.

After asking around for references and doing a little research on his own, he hired a guy who had done some work for a friend. My dad signed an agreement with him and work began.

Early on, he began having issues with the contractor showing up when he said he would. I used to hear my dad’s tensed conversations with the guy asking him when he planned to show up for the work scheduled to be done. The days that the contractor did show up, my dad would help with whatever task was to be completed.

After working with the contractor for a few weeks, he was unable to reach him. Several calls went un-returned, and my dad started to worry. Finally, one of the guys’s colleagues called my dad and let him know that he had been arrested for  non-payment of child support. He was released a few days later and explained everything to my dad. By then, we were just wanting everything to get done quickly so we could be rid of this headache.

The relationship with the contractor finally broke down to the point of no repair over the contract terms. You see, my dad had signed an agreement with the contractor saying that all the work that needed to be done would be completed at a certain price. My dad had paid the price in full, but the contractor kept asking for more money to buy supplies. It became obvious that he had given a very low quote to win the bid. My dad reluctantly gave him more money and also went with him to buy the supplies.

The breaking point came when the contractor asked for quite a large amount of money to finish the project. My dad was furious. The contractor insisted that the money was needed to finish the house. My dad wanted to know why the contact they signed was for a much lower amount. He couldn’t answer that question, and a heated argument ensued. It ended with my dad telling the guy to get his things and go.

Thankfully, most of the work had been done, and was surprisingly done well. It was a huge learning lesson for us. Now I’m more aware of what to do when hiring a contractor.

How to hire a good contractor

Go with the professionals
Though they may cost more, you’re likely to get more reliable workers who will be there when they say they will. They might also have policies that protect your interests, unlike independent contractor.

Get more than one reference
Don’t go with someone just because a friend said they’re good. Try and get more references. You’re going to be  spending thousands of dollars, so it’s important you hear from a number of sources on the quality of this person’s work. If my dad would have dug a little deeper, he would have found out that even the people who referred the contractor had similar issues with him.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
We hear this all the time, and it’s true. My dad picked the contractor he did because his quote was thousands less than others. At the end of the day, he ended up paying a lot more than initially stated in the contract. For that price, he could have hired a professional company and had a lot less stress.

Learn from our experience; don’t hire a contractor from hell.

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