Time Thief

Monday, August 08, 2005

contractor jitters

It's kind of like first-date jitters...what's he going to say? What's he going to do? Will I like him? Let us hope that this turns out better than most first dates.

I'm outsourcing mudding of the living room ceiling, dining room ceiling, and one wall in the dining room. The living room ceiling had been completely removed and replaced with new wallboard following my failure to win the battle of the gold glitter due to the fact that the ceiling was wallpapered, then glittered. (Congrats if you read that entire sentence and didn't get dizzy.)

The dining room ceiling was de-glittered, but it is very rough and stained from water damage. It will get a layer of 1/4" drywall first, then tape and mud.

The wall in the dining room was previously torn out to jack up the ceiling. It went up about 3/4 of an inch. It didn't entirely fix the sag, but it's better, I guess.

The effort I've gone through just to get someone to say they'll do the job is unimagineable, unless of course, you're a houseblogger who's gone through the same thing.

- I started with Angie's List. Found a big name there that I recognized and gave them a call. The nice lady that answered informed me that they specialize in new construction, but she would pass along my info in case one of the guys wanted the work on the side. No one called, of course.

- Overall, I'd feel better about going with a little guy, but worry about doing that without a personal reference. But, that's what Angie's List is for, right? The first match on the list was an independent guy who lives in the neighborhood. I also thought it was cool because he has a functioning website where you can submit requests. So, I did. We spoke the next day and he seemed ambitious. He came over and looked at the place, while talking my ear off about anything and everything. He said he would have a bid to me later that week. The bid never appeared. During our talk, I figured out exactly where he lives. He's on my less-traveled walk route, but I made a point to take the route that week. I'm now feeling okay that he won't be doing the work. (Oooohhhhh, that house.) In addition, I had passed his info on to a friend before I dealt with him. She actually did get a quote and it was astronomical.

- So, time for the phone book. I called up my local "Drywall Doctor" and a woman with a lovely British accent took all my information, then said she would call back with an estimate. How cool is that?! You can estimate the job over the phone? N.e.a.t.o. She promptly called back and gave me an estimate that was about twice what I had guessed it should be. I asked the question anyway -- and found out their lead time is usually 3 - 4 weeks. ick.

- Next stop - Service Magic. I didn't have any luck there when I was trying to find someone to tape/mud upstairs, so I didn't hold out hope. I immediately got a call from one company who qualifies as a "little guy". Their quick response gave me hope and a little bit of fear at the same time. How desperate can they be? We set up an appt for them to come out and check it out at 4pm the next day. 4pm came and went and they weren't here. I had to leave around 5. When I was driving back towards the house around 6pm, I managed to see a truck pulling out of my driveway. Five minutes later, they called and left a message on my machine stating "We tried to come take a look at the job, but you weren't available." Oh, really? Hmmm...maybe that's because you were TWO HOURS LATE!! You must not want the job.

- The same day that I had talked to the company above, another "little guy" called and said he was just finishing up a job, but he would contact me later in the week to setup a time to take a look. I never heard from him again.

If I have nothing on which to base my opinion of your quality of work, what do I do? I have to base it on your level of professionalism when you deal with me. If you can't even get that right, I certainly don't think you'd be able to perform to the level I expect. I am, of sorts, an independent consultant in the computer software biz. Would I expect to get any clients if I behaved this way?! Absolutely not.

Finally, the last match on my Service Magic request was Case Handyman Services. I'm hesitant about these kinds of outfits, because I figure they can't give you the kind of customized service that a little guy could. Well, I didn't really have an option at this point. And, hey, if they're good enough for Oprah, then maybe they're good enough for me.

A lady from Case had called me, but I sat on it for a few days. When I did call her back, she already had the estimate worked up (about half of the other phone estimate I got) and told me she could have someone here later that week!! Wowsa! I told her I would call her back because I wasn't sure my schedule would be ready for it that quickly. I called back the next day and left a voicemail. She didn't return my call and I started to get a little nervous. "There's no turning back now", I thought and gave her another call. She was expecting me and told me she hadn't called back yet because she was waiting to see if she could line up a particular guy for the job. She said she'd call back by 1 with the exact dates. She called back at 11:30 with the name of the guy and said he'd be here Tuesday(tomorrow) and Wednesday. Prompt is a word these people understand.

The guy scheduled to do the work called today and asked if he could stop by and check out the dining room ceiling so he'd know what supplies he would need in the morning. Is it just me or is everyone getting good feelings? He came over as promised and we talked for a while. He wasn't at all bothered by Meda wrapping her tail around his legs and seems very professional. He explained all the details of what he would do and when as he could have some scheduling conflicts Wednesday, but promised it will be done by the end of the week regardless. He also explained that there's a 2-year warranty on all the work he does. If, when I go to paint it, I find any flaws I can't live with, I give them a call and they come out and fix it with no questions asked.

Am I dreaming? Stay tuned to find out if my dreamboat has arrived.


  • No matter who you go with, get references (and check up on them) and look at their work. Do not be shy about it, assert yourself. I have been screwed over so many times by contractors who talk a good game and then can't tell their a** from a hole in the ground. Sorry for that but I've had it with the bamboozlers. You probably don't need to be told all this by me but I just don't want to see anyone be taken advantage of.

    By Blogger Patricia W, at 8:46 PM  

  • oh how I hate to be the one to say it...sounds too good to be true...check out my drywall story. FOLLOW UP on them. no money til you are satisfied!! good luck! I really do hope this is the miracle man!

    By Blogger The McCords', at 10:04 PM  

  • I don't mean to discourage you, but I had very mixed luck with Angies List in the 3 yrs I used them. I found a plumber, electrician and floor guy that I adore. But, I also found a plumber that stalked me (oh yea), a floor guy I had to fire mid job, and a pest control guy that took the $ and ran. Use them, but definitely ask for references and verify. Turst your gut.

    By Blogger StuccoHouse, at 11:20 PM  

  • I recently compared Service Magic and Angie's List. Read the details on my blog here: http://www.38hourday.com.

    Sage Scott

    By Blogger Sage Scott, at 10:05 PM  

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