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The Problem with Contractors….

December 27, 2011

Last night my husband questioned why a large group of contractors seem to be cut from the same cloth, all sharing similar characteristics:

  • They are in no particular hurray to get anything done in a timely fashion…and so, they prefer to bill hourly
  • Rolling in a 10:30AM is perfectly acceptable – “Oh, what’s that? You’re home? Uhhh….I didn’t think you would be here. Normally I show up at 9AM.”
  • They never seem to overestimate a quote, only under estimate
  • If they don’t need your work they won’t tell you. Instead they will quote you a ridiculous price. If you pass on it then it’s no problem for them. If you accept – jackpot!

A prime example is the hot water heater replacement. I did my homework by researching local companies and pouring over ratings and reviews. I arranged three estimates for the following work: replace 40 gallon gas hot water heater with a similar model (unit and haul away included), and relocate it 6 feet to the left in what will be the new boiler room. Each company came out to the house, discussed what would be done and what materials would be used – all of the consultations were very similar. I received the following quotes:

  • $2700
  • $800
  • $1800

What? Each of these quotes is $1000 apart. Who is getting fooled here? Seems to me that the $2700 guy was just making up numbers – and clearly we didn’t go with him. If you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t shop around there is a high probability that you might get screwed.

Now, I’m not sure why the majority of them act this way, but it sure does make my head spin!

I asked for it though. I am acting as the general contractor for the basement renovation, and so, I get to deal with researching the project, setting the timelines, negotiating quotes, hiring the workers, managing their progress, adjusting the budget, and pulling my hair out when it doesn’t go as planned! I love being involved in every step though (my inner control freak revels in this) and we also save some money in the process.



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