Friday, July 21, 2017

Kitchen Remodel: Part Nine

Contractors.

I knew this would be a difficult step. Every time I deal with someone in the service industry is seems like a difficult step these days compared to years gone by. I'm not sure why it is. Changing societal demands or changing ethics perhaps? Whatever it is, when my wife demanded that I needed to get at least four quotes for our kitchen addition project, I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.

I dutifully got the names of four contractors in our area that I've heard good things about and made the phone calls one morning. In two instances, I was able to speak with a live person who promised to pass on my request to someone who would call me back. In the other two cases I am forced to leave a message with the promise that someone would call me right back.

A week goes by.

Finally I get a call back from the contractor I thought would most likely call me back. He happens to live on the next hill over from us and I know his kids and wife fairly well since the kids sometimes ride the bus with my daughter. I had never met him though personally other than to wave whenever he drives by and I happen to be out in the yard doing something. We met and he seemed like a really nice fellow and after showing him the project promised me he would get back to me in a few weeks with a quote.

Another week goes by.

I finally get another call from the company I most likely think we will choose since they come highly recommended by absolutely everyone. They set up an appointment for the following week and then don't show up. I call back and get apologies and it is rescheduled for Thursday evening of that same week. Thursday morning they call me up saying they really don't want to quote it since it will be six months out and want me to call them back in a couple months. I tell them that I'm okay with the timeline and if we have to adjust prices in six months that will be fine but I would really like someone to at least give me a rough quote so we can see if we are in the same ballpark and get on a waiting list which I doubt will ever be shorter than six months. He reluctantly agrees to these terms and tells me he will be there at six. At five o'clock, I get a call from the secretary saying that a family emergency happened and that they would have to call me back on Friday to reschedule. The call never comes.

Immediately I want to interpret that they just aren't interested in the project and move on. In fact, I fully figured they would never call back. But after a weekend to cool my jets, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and call back the following Monday. He immediately apologized upon hearing my name and scheduled a meeting for the following day. This time he did show up and he seems like an excellent fellow to help with this project. I think we would click well and they would do a great job. He promised to get back to me in a few weeks with a quote and offered several more apologies for the previous two meetings he missed.

That brings me up to now. The remaining two companies I called have yet to call back. I have since called a fifth company that somebody else recommended highly and spoke with the owner who promised to call me back later that week to set up an appointment. Two weeks have passed and he still hasn't called either. I fully suspect that two quotes will be all I will get, assuming both of them deliver quotes in a few weeks as promised.

This is why I laugh every time someone says to get four or more quotes. It just never seems to work that way. Based on my average, I would expect to have to call at least ten companies to get four quotes back. And it doesn't seem limited to the construction trades either. I have the same problem trying to get a repairman to call back, a heating and air conditioning person to show up, or really anybody in the service trade.

The good news is that from what the two contractors had hinted at for costs seem to be well within our budget even if we hire them to do everything and not just the outside work as I initially desired. It might mean that I will have to work on another project altogether while they do a turnkey job. Time will tell.

9 comments:

sage said...

Dealing with the construction trade can be frustrating At least you had a couple to call you back. I wanted a gas line put in for a gas stove top and a dryer and it was like pulling teeth and I went with the only one who was prompt and he did a good job.

Ed said...

Sage - I'm sure they are busy and getting them to do small jobs that are only important to you can definitely be a trial of patience. I naively thought that since this was a rather big job with more money involved, things might be a bit different.

Kelly said...

I guess common courtesy has fallen by the wayside in this day and age, but you'd think basic business practices would make folks at least respond promptly. If they don't want the work, all they have to do is give an exorbitant bid or tell you they don't currently have the time for your project. Even those who are currently over scheduled should know that the day might come when bad word of mouth about their practices now might come back to bite them in the butt.

Susan said...

It's everywhere. We run into the same problem here. We have one contractor who is good, reliable and on the high-end of reasonably priced. You can never get him because he is so busy. The rest do not call back, do not show up and, if it's after lunch, they are loaded when they do. Sigh.

Ed said...

Kelly - What gets me more are the ones I spoke with personally on the phone who said they would call back and never did.

Susan - I tend to have better luck with repeated business. I have an electrician I have used occasionally who does really good work, is always prompt and generally returns any phone calls within the same business day.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

I'm glad that you feel good about the ones that you DID meet. It is hard to find someone reasonable and you can trust when it comes to contracting. From many of your DIY posts, it sounds like you are knowledgeable about the basics of what this kind of work would entail, which will hopefully protect you from anyone trying to pull a scam or pull one over on you. I find that's always my struggle is knowing if what I'm being told is correct or not. I did a lot of work on my house last year and thought I found someone who was reliable and wouldn't take advantage. I recommended him to a friend who has moved out of state and wanted some work down on their house here in order to sell it. He screwed them over big time and charged them for work that was never done and did shoddy work on what he did do. Ugh! Back to the drawing board. It's hard to find good help! Good luck!

Vince said...

Local guys have to play it that way to some extent. They are small outfits and I expect one room remodels wouldn't have the fat on it to cover the time lost in making up the quote. In a way you might be better to go far bigger, meaning contacting firms out of the nearest city. Or going smaller by hiring the trades yourself, and you managing the project.
But there must be some young turk in the area just starting off, if all the contractors are playing the stacking game, who is out to get a list of jobs behind him.

Bob said...

Where I live it seems everyone is either building or remodeling and there are not enough contractors, etc. to go around. And forget small jobs. I have a good friend who took early retirement from his pharm sales job. He's extremely handy so he started doing odd jobs for people. He did repair work to our back deck when he was starting out. Now he has a 3-person crew and more work than he can keep up with. I asked him about his success and he said a huge part of it is returning calls and showing up on time -- and just showing up, period.

I'm not handy at all and I've got a little fund to pay for jobs that need to be done. Four quotes?! I'm just happy to get a call back from someone!

Ed said...

Pumpkin Delight - I don't know if my knowledge can help prevent me from being taken advantage of by a contractor but I certainly hope it does limit my chances.

Vince - The problem is geography. Where I live is the regional center and thus the place to go for such things. The "nearest city" would be our state capital and nobody there wants to travel that far for a small project like what I have. Two of the ones we did contact were considered "young turks" and one of them just stopped by the other day finally and seemed like a really nice guy. Now if we get some actual quotes out of this whole process, we'll be set.

Bob - I've thought that perhaps I should hire out to do small jobs when I get bored of fixing up my own house. There seems like more than enough work to go around.