We all know not to do business with the guy who just happens to be in your neighborhood with some leftover asphalt or roofing materials. In fact, my general rule is not to do business with anyone who shows up at my door unless it is a Girl Scout selling cookies. That said, there are also risks attached when you initiate the contact with a contractor yourself. You’re liable to find the same wide variations in competency, professionalism, and quality as you find in the printing industry.
I ended last month’s editorial with the comment that we had yet to hear from any contractors about repairing our damaged garage/dining room wall. I’m happy to report that we finally did get in contact with some contractors. I’m not so happy to report just how jack-leg and unprofessional some of them were.
With a blue tarp covering the hole in our wall, we were anxious to find a contractor as soon as possible. Our first move was to call a company that has a lot of trucks with signs touting its years in business and the scope of its capabilities. Yes, we were assured, we will be right out to give you an estimate and we will not cut corners. We’re a family company and we feel your pain. Great line of patter, but the problem was nobody ever showed up. So much for ads on trucks.
The insurance company had given us a list of approved contractors, but we were a little reluctant to use the list since we weren’t convinced the insurance people always approve top quality contractors. Nevertheless, we called two of the recommended companies.
The first estimator to arrive confirmed our misgivings. He eyeballed the hole in the wall, tugged on some hanging wires, and scratched some calculations on the back of an old envelope. “Shouldn’t take more than a day or so,” he said before driving away.
The second estimator was the complete opposite. He took careful measurements, photographed the damage and surrounding areas, explained how the building codes had changed since the wall was first built, and said the first order of business was to get an electrician to fix the damaged wiring. About four days later we received a 23 page estimate, with drawings, photos, material lists, estimated labor costs, provision for repainting, etc.
Meanwhile, the other company called out of the blue and said they were ready to start the project and their truck was in our area. No estimate. No contact with the insurance company. No nothing. They seemed miffed that we had chosen another company.
Well, the wall is now restored and the other damage repaired. The work was professional, the quality superb, the workers skilled and pleasant, and the cost was to the penny what was estimated. And we are now advocates for Heritage Restoration.