31 July 2009

On Contractors

We've remodeled our house almost completely, almost every room. After the kitchen is done, the only two rooms left pretty much untouched are the downstairs bathroom (we painted, that's about it) and the utility room. Over the last three years (I can't believe it's really been that long), we've encountered all different kinds of contractors and subcontractors, some good, some not so good. The good guys were surprisingly good, and I've included photos of their work and contact info wherever possible. The bad guys, though...ugh. I wouldn't wish 'em on anybody.

The Nice Guy
Nice Guy fools you with his friendly demeanor, pats on the shoulder, and soothing words like, "It's gonna be BEAUTIFUL when we're done!" Six months into the six-week project, you're ready to saw his head off with a piece of stray lumber as he tries to blame YOUR choice in paint for the god-awful job done by his sixteen-year-old "helper." (No, dude, semi-gloss paint doesn't end up looking like orange peel just because it's a dark color.) Nice Guy preys on the remodeling virgins, the people who've never done more than swap out a ceiling fan. You accept his higher bid because, well, he's just NICE! He loves your ideas, loves the color scheme, and really loves to take your money. He promises that the job won't be done until you're 100% satisfied, but doesn't return your calls when you want to know why his sub hacked into a door frame to accommodate a wall outlet, or why your tile that's supposed to have white grout looks like someone spilled coffee on half of it. Or why the tub makes a loud pop-CRACK! sound every time you fill it up or step into it. Or maybe why the caulk around the tub is already coming off. Or why there's paint on EVERYTHING. By the time it's done, though, you're so happy to have everything finished that you don't care -- you give him the check and swear you'll never use a general contractor again.

The A-hole
He comes to give you an estimate on flooring, and sneers at your choice. His words: "Why the HELL would you want to use BAMBOO?!" You're about to throw him out on his ear when he explains that for your lifestyle, what you've picked is basically crap that comes with no warranty. He proves you wrong, smirks, makes sassy comments. But he does fantastic work, shows up on time, and lets you buy all the flooring at once, store it in his warehouse, and then has his crew install it a room at a time.
Steve Salas, Master Image Flooring 757.282.6770

The Chatty Guy
He shows up on time and knows what he's doing. He's polite, loves your dogs like they're his own, and gives you good suggestions about the work you're doing in the house and what you've done so far. And more than anything, he loves to talk. He talks to himself, to his helpers, to you (even when you're in another room and totally not responding to him). A little kooky, but it's worth it -- his prices can't be beat.
Dave, Orefice Plumbing Heating & AC 757.436.9752

The Invisible Man
After being hired to complete some pretty simple trim work, he goes out for lunch and never comes back. Bonus: He disappears before you pay him, and also leaves his tools behind!

The Strong, Silent Type
They show up early and work fast. They're so quiet, it's eerie. And most of them look like they might've spent their morning in front of a judge after a weekend bar fight. 
Sam Dowdy, Breaker Box Plus 757.689.8700

The Repeat Offender
Oh, the Repeat Offender...he's the dysfunctional boyfriend that you just can't bring yourself to dump because he's really, REALLY good at what he does. He shows up late (if at all), says he'll be back in an hour and doesn't come back for three. He does it every time, and every time you're about to write him off, he comes through for you. 
Lawrence Harris, 757.717.2372

The Dipshit Duo
You decide to help out a friend, someone a family member suggests, someone who's hit hard times and could really use the work. You're a little wary, but you say, "Why not? She's cheap, and she says she can get it done in a hurry." Oh, little homeowner...you'll never make this mistake again. On the rare occasion that she shows up to do work, she ends up doing nothing. (Yes, because I'm paying you to sit on my patio and smoke with my husband's grandmother. I didn't really want walls in my bedroom. That's just silly!) Sometimes her husband comes with her, and he manages to stain your tablecloth, trail ashes and dirt wherever he goes, and generally annoy the bejeebus out of you the entire time. The whole thing ends with a screaming match on your front lawn, where you end up telling her to get off your property or you'll call the police. 

Just makes you want to start ripping out walls and remodeling YOUR place, doesn't it?

Note: None of these people gave me any discounts or freebies in exchange for positive feedback in this blog post. This isn't a review blog, I don't have sponsors or advertisers, and I don't say good things about stuff just to get things for free.

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