From Margaret Everton on July 06, 2009 in General
We love them. We hate them. At one time or another we all think we can do their job, but the truth of the matter is, if it weren’t for contractors we’d still be living in huts or tents.
The contractor is a different sort of breed than most of us and I can say this with authority, having lived with one (married one, bred with one, etc.) for the past 17 years. There are many things that contractors do that leave the rest of us just dumbstruck and sometimes annoyed. Personal digs aside, here are 10 things that top the annoying list of contractor habits:
- Not having the ability to purchase the proper size pants. This particularly applies to plumbing contractors, hence the loving term “Plumber’s Crack” - it ain’t pretty and there’s not much you can do about it except steer clear. In fact, it may just be their very clever ploy to keep customers from interrupting their progress until the job is through and their standing erect.
- Not showing up on any particular day. It happens, one day he’s there plugging along and the next - nothing. A good contractor will be in touch, though, to let you know if he won’t be there for a day or so. Typically the reasons for not showing up that are acceptable will include bad weather (for outdoor jobs), need to shop for supplies/materials, have another customer with an emergency or multiple customers that the contractor is splitting time between—although this should be admitted to the customer up front. Photo credit: Redfin blog
- Leaving a mess. It’s one thing when a contractor leaves a mess around MY house (after 17 years I’m pretty much used to it), but it’s another thing when you pay them and they leave a mess around YOUR house. A quality contractor should always clean up after themselves, be it from his lunch break or from your home improvement project.
- Taking longer than expected to finish the project. Construction schedules are pretty much a joke and the only time a contractor will give you a definite finish date is when you demand one and they’re really just making it up to please you. The truth of the matter is that unexpected things happen all the time in construction that the contractor can’t control. Subs don’t show up when they should, bad weather holds up progress, special ordered materials don’t come in on time or come in wrong, or repairs reveal other house maladies that need to be dealt with. Try to be patient—alls well that ends well, and it will, eventually, end.
- Going over budget. This is a household annoyance of mine, but my personal budget doesn’t really have anything to do with this. Many a construction project is finished for more money than the estimate was made for. This happens for lots of reasons just like in number 4. Sometimes customers change their minds about what they want, which can mean more expensive materials or added days on the job and sometimes it may mean the contractor supposed wrong about some of the material or labor costs associated with the job. An honest contractor will go over any changes to the budget with you as soon as they surface, though, so that you’re on the same page and won’t have any surprises in billing at the end of the job.
- Demanding large sums of money before lifting a finger. It’s pretty standard for a contractor to ask for a deposit when starting any project. The amount will vary, but many will ask for enough money to cover materials’ costs before starting the job. This lets the contractor know that you are a serious customer and that should you cancel the job before it’s done the only thing he’s out of is time, since the materials are already paid for. What you do need to look out for is the contractor that demands final payment before the job is done—that’s a bad sign. Never give your contractor his final payment until the job has been satisfactorily completed and cleaned up after.
- Showing up at un-Godly hours. Contractors are notorious early birds, often starting work before the sun comes up. Some, however are night owls, working well beyond some people’s bedtimes. In either case, it’s best to let your contractor know what the earliest is you’ll be willing to let them in in the morning and what the latest is that they can be tinkering around.
- Being too loud. Obnoxious is bad, but loud usually means work is going on—and that’s good so don’t get too uptight. If there’s a reason why you can’t have excessive noise going on on any given day or time of day, just explain. This might cause delays if there’s nothing that can be done on the project until the lumber is hewn or the molding nailed or stapled by air-gun, so try to be flexible.
- Parking their dirty truck anywhere they please. Sometimes a contractor will need to drive on the lawn to pull up heavy equipment or materials close to the house, but if damage is done to the lawn they should be willing to make any necessary repairs. The rule of thumb is that everything should be left just as they found it when the project is done (except for the improvements - they should be better than found!)
- Putting his own family last. Okay, this one’s personal, but you know the story about the cobbler’s family, right? No shoes. Well, I should be happy—I DO have a house, but all the little finishing touches have been ignored because after working all day at YOUR houses, my Mr. Contractor-Man never feels like working on mine! I hope you’re happy! (Actually, as long as you pay him on his way home, I’m happy, too because, frankly, the annoyances you have to put up with in a contractor are nothing compared to the annoyances their wives live with. So don’t think of it as paying your annoying contractor, think of it as a consolation fee to their family.)