We recently started a remodeling job on our house. I didn’t know this at first, but we started on the outside for a reason – to get used to the noise and dust gradually before we move it indoors. I’m learning a whole new way of speaking and listening that requires subtitles and translation. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some projects in the past, so I have some notion how contractors work. But I’ve never done a project this large. When a contractor says, or doesn’t say something, I’m beginning to learn that it speaks volumes. Here are some examples:
- “It’s a family owned business.” – This means that one person in the family is the only one left in the business – generally the meanest, biggest pain in the butt that none of the other family members could deal with anymore so they all got out and are now working at the local grocery store.
- “Please check our references.” – They give you a cherry-picked list of people to call who are probably relatives that were never part of the business (why do they all have the same last name?). These are relatives that the contractor has yet to piss off. They built the relative/reference a new closet for free, and now they are qualified to over-exaggerate their praises.
- “That isn’t a service we offer, but we can refer you to someone.” – Translation: “Don’t you know who we are? We wouldn’t touch that kind of work with a 10-foot pole. We know a schmoe who will do it for almost nothing, but you get what you pay for.”
- “We supervise all of our subcontractors.” – I worked with an interior designer once that “supervised” by calling the subcontractors but never showed up at the jobsite. So she had no idea what kind of mess was created or left behind each night when they left. She got a LOT of crabby phone calls from me. I particularly like the tile guy she sent with his pit bull tied to the front door. Charming.
- “We are pet friendly.” – I think this means they won’t nail gun the cats to a wall if they get in the way, but after that, all bets are off.
Okay, this makes me sound a bit pessimistic, and we are just barely getting started on the project. Let’s just say that I’ve had some interesting experiences in the past (I once criticized a painter for painting over dust & dirt, and he suddenly left the job site for a “painting emergency”). This time around, I am spending quite a bit of time on “due diligence” – checking the Better Business Bureau, verifying licenses, bonding, insurance, and we joined Angie’s LIst to make sure we aren’t getting any real duds.
So wish us luck. I’ve got my noise cancelling earphones. And my sedatives and Aleve. I’m ready.