Like any profession, there is a certain way that contractors work, but you may never discover what these are apart from due diligence on your part. We’ve done some digging, asked some contractors a few questions and have discovered some sizzling secrets of the home improvement industry, including some that may surprise you.
1. Professional Padding
Contractors want to offer the best rate possible to secure your business, but there is an unspoken rule that if you’re a professional, such as a doctor or a lawyer, everyone who bids on your project will “add a little extra” given your premier financial position.
Stockbrokers, accountants, CEOs and other high profile people can expect to pay handsomely too. Its just that way … contractors want to milk the golden cow.
2. Bids Aren’t Always Fixed
You’ve accepted your contractor’s bid of $6,500 to resurface your driveway, but are in for a nasty surprise: you’ll pay more than the agreed upon price, perhaps much more. Fees to the town, rising material costs and labor costs will most likely jack up your project’s price. You say that you didn’t see it coming? You would have if you read the fine print, particularly that section about contingencies.
3. The License Isn’t Valid
You asked to see your contractor’s license and are satisfied that he has what it takes to take on your project. However, if you looked closer, you would have seen that his “Class B” license isn’t sufficient for your “Class A” job. In other words, the state doesn’t recognize said contractor as having either the experience or knowledge to tear down and replace your deck or enclose your sunroom. Oops.
4. Being Bonded Isn’t Enough
Homeowners who think that their contractor’s bond is sufficient to cover all costs related to possible problems with the home should reconsider. It isn’t that your contractor doesn’t want to protect you, its just that his bond doesn’t go far enough. A subcontractor or supplier may not be covered, leaving you liable. Before starting a project, verify that the bond is all-encompassing. By all means have an umbrella policy to protect yourself. Call your homeowners’ insurance company today.
5. Time Is Not of the Essence
You imagine that your new kitchen will be completed during the summer while you and your family stay at your beach home. The reality is that this project may push up against the holiday season as delays, inspections and worker availability weigh in. In other words, reality proves otherwise. Your contractor didn’t lie to you, but he wasn’t about to share with you the possible problems that might make your one season job a two season inconvenience.
6. Clean Up is a State of Mind
Pallets, boxes and personal equipment may get pulled off the job site on a regular basis, but your contractor may leave an old sink, piping, electric wiring and wood pieces around as he works on your home. Don’t expect your contractor to clean as he goes. More likely when the job is done you’ll find enough odds and ends left behind that you’ll wonder if you were on the same page when it came to cleaning up. Guess what? You were not.
Will other unforeseen problems arise? Yes, count on it. And, they nearly always come with extensive delays. These six sizzling secrets can cause even the best laid plans of men to fizzle, making you wonder if your home improvement project was more of a hassle than what it was worth.