Interview: Jody of “Contractors From Hell”

From on September 19, 2007 in General

CFHHave you been burned by a contractor, stuck with unsightly holes in the wall, an unfinished or way past due job? Well these types of occurrences are far to often common which is why Jody of seeks to educate homeowners about hiring quality contractors. Calfinder, a believer in hiring quality contractors, caught up with her for a short interview.

If you wouldn’t mind, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started

In 2000 I quit my job in medical sales to take care of my mom who was in failing health and to begin preparations to remodel and add on to the home so she could live with us during her final years. However, what was to be a four month remodeling project (we knew better…we gave it 8 months - max) quickly turned into a nightmare and hence, was born. The genesis for the site was my horror at how unregulated the building industry is, the lack of oversight by the Contractors State License Board for both consumers and contractors and the very real fact that consumers believe that if one is licensed, that person can surely be trusted to follow the laws. It was in every sense a “baptism by fire” journey that I documented every step of the way.

How many burnt homeowners to you hear from in a day/week/month and is their a common theme to their complaints? What is the most common complaint?

The average number of folks who contact me per week is 5 to 10, depending on the time of year. They typically are having problems or concerns and are looking for some guidance and frankly, legal advice. (which of course I don’t give and encourage them to contact an attorney regarding legal issues). The most common complaint is that project is dragging for weeks with the contractor putting in one day’s work for the entire week. When the homeowner addresses the problem with a contractor – that is after numerous attempts to get him/her to return calls – the scene gets ugly. They demand for more money or “I’ll lien your property” are common rants from unethical contractors. But I also get folks who are looking for tips on hiring contractors and some times they will contact me just to let me know how very much they appreciate the information and insight into what a consumer should be looking for when hiring home remodeling contractors, These are my absolute favorite emails to receive as it means I got to them before they made some serious mistakes.

You have a very in-depth list of questions to ask a contractor, what do you see as being the hardest part about hiring/finding a contractor?

The hardest part is finding an ethical, competent contractor whose work ethic is based on meeting or exceeding industry standards and is in it to build a sound business. This, as opposed to someone who is solely in it for the money and there are enough of those characters who are lured by the idea of making a good deal of money quickly. These are the contractors homeowners need to avoid by educating themselves and doing their homework. As for the consumer, getting them to do their due diligence in conducting a thorough background check on the contractor they are looking to hire can be a challenge. From what I have observed over the eight years has been on line, people tend to rush through the process, skip some important steps in vetting their contractor and just want to get going on their project.

Do you have any immediate plans for and/or advocating for this cause?

Well, I’ve been getting a lot more requests this year for referrals for a good attorney and also a good contractor. And it’s not just for California. Attorneys who have expressed interest on advertising their services on my site are also contacting me. I believe it’s a good match so I’m in the process of making that happen and hope to have a listing of attorneys starting with California by years end. The other requests I receive from homeowners are a forum where folks can connect with others and share information. That could happen next year as well.

As for my advocacy efforts it’s part of my nature really, and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. Besides, it’s satisfying to know I’ve helped some people out there who have visited my site. Making a difference – however small that may be – is certainly an idea I believe in and in this day and age is sorely needed.


Thanks Jody for taking the time to talk with us. Check out her website to learn more about the flip side of quality contractors, and the importance of hiring good contractors, Contractors from Hell.