Hiring a contractor - ???

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by countrygrrrl, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Okay. I think we've found a contractor for the damages caused by a fire last week.

    And I think I've covered all the bases. But I want to make sure I haven't missed anything.

    Here's where I am now:

    1. Our insurance company requires you find your own contractor --- the adjustor, in fact, told me they refuse to get involved in the relationship between a contractor and the insured.

    2. The contractor I found specializes in fire and water damage.

    3. They've been in business for 30 years.

    4. They're BBB members and have an excellent rating with them.

    5. They're insured (workman's comp, etc).

    6. They came by to begin the estimate the other day --- they were extremely professional and thorough --- took them three hours :eek: --- and tomorrow, they're sending out electricians for their estimates.

    7. I've scanned EVERYTHING and have only found one lawsuit against them --- a former employee sued and lost.

    8. I haven't looked at referrals but, to be honest, I would prefer referrals from people I KNOW --- but i don't know anyone who has had a fire in this city over the past five years.

    What am I missing? We're hoping to make the decision this afternoon. :confused: :confused:
     
  2. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Well sounds like youve done your homework. You have to remember your neighbor on one side says all contractors are low life theives who only show up for money. But your neighbor on the other side may think the guy is GOD's right hand man. I've been in the business for 20+ years and I love it but some people can't be pleased. Sounds like you found a good one just make sure insurance will cover everything. I had a friend who's house burnt he hired a professional to sift the ashes and document everything. It cost like 3k but got 10x that in return.

    mikell
     

  3. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Yes. That's the problem with references!! :rolleyes:

    In any case, thanks! My head is totally exhausted from working on this (it's been like five-six days straight of running searches, talking to people, worrying over stuff, etc.) but I think he's the right guy. I just want to make sure there isn't something huge I've forgotten about! :eek:
     
  4. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    I hired a contractor for the first time last year and learned some hard lessons.

    I was having a bathtub torn out and replaced with a shower.

    The bid called for "tear out", "rough in plumbing" for the shower and then the install.

    I got billed $900 over on an $8,000 job and had no recourse that I knew of. The story was that the tear out contained unexpected problems in where the plumbing was located, etc. That I could almost understand, but there was a $700 charge for the plumbing because it was different than what they expected. Except the plumbers never spent a full day on my property!!! The contract did not itemize how much the plumbing was going to cost and when I tried to say that $700 itself should cover a full day of service, let alone what was in the base bid, it fell on deaf ears.

    It was a good job and I love my shower but feel I did get ripped off.
     
  5. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Yes. Actually I talked about this with the contractor. This will work a bit different because it's being paid for by insurance, except for the deductible. The contractor said it's likely they'll run into other problems and he outlined what he foresaw as potentially showing up. He said they file for supplemental payment from the insurer and negotiate with them about doing it.

    That said, we had to do some major plumbing work on this house several years ago --- the fellows sent out for the job hardly ever showed up and did a shoddy job when they did appear --- needless to say, we refuse to hire them again BUT come to find out, they all got fired because of that. Which is something. But doesn't replace the crummy job they did. :no:

    It's also one reason I'm being positively anal about this. i've done about everything but put a private eye on their tails. :D
     
  6. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .....................I would contact your local "small claims court" and see if they have a list of cases that have been filed for the last couple of years. In texas, you can sue for damages up to $5,000 . the filing fee is about 60 bucks. no lawyers , etc. ....fordy... :eek: :)
     
  7. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    :eek: Thanks, fordy. Good call.

    Here, you can search the dockets online. I just did a search on: company name; owner's name; contractor's name. I learned: they've sued a couple of people for payment :eek: but found no suits against them in the county where they're located and where the house is.
     
  8. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Ask for a list of nearby clients so you can drive around and see what the finished job looks like, and if some of those past clients just happen to be outside working on the lawn or washing their car I would not be above speaking with them.

    Do require that all contractors and their subs show you currant proof of insurance, and that each and everyone furnish you with a 'mechanics lean release'. Failing to do so could cause you to have to pay for the materials twice.
     
  9. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Don't ask for references, ask for the numbers and addresses of his last three jobs. Yes he could lie but by speaking with these people you will find out the lies. Our contractor had a great salesperson come to the house and evaluate the required repairs. We had one room of the house totally gutted and the rest of the house had extensive smoke and heat damage. He was very professional- but he was a salesperson. The contractor subcontracted and the subcontractors used unskilled labor. At the top of the totem pole, they knew what they were doing- at the low end of the totem pole, they were very unorganized, messy, and lazy. After the job, he used us as a reference and we were honest. I don't know if the circumstances for you are similar. We had two young children in school and had to ive in an apartment while the house was renovated. The closest apt. we found was 20 miles from the kids' school. It was a huge hassle and to see weeks go by without any work being done on the house was agonizing. Make sure they count on the roof needing repairs if it is wood and shingle. Somethings they won't consider in the estimate and then you will be sol after the work when you discover all the little things that are no longer serviceable that weren't included. Best wishes with your decisions cg.
     
  10. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    One of the selling points for me on this contractor is that their work is guaranteed for 2 years.

    If there weren't this kind of guarantee, I'd still be looking. I also suspect this is a reason why there's no claims against them --- they also belong to some kind of Better Business Bureau mediation and arbitration service.

    The dude who did the estimate is a construction dude --- he's now essentially a salesperson, yes, but definitely a construction dude (can you tell I'm watching The Big Lebowski? :haha: ) (Dude!) ( :haha: :haha: ).

    Here are some of the problems I had with the other contractors I talked to:
    1. One was incomplete -- great BBB rating, nice people --- but I would still have to behave as a general contractor on my own for about half of the work that needs to be done(specifically electrical, HVAC, and structural [beams, etc]) --- and no guarantee. But nice people! :)
    2. One openly admitted he needed to know the name of our adjustor before he went any further because he doesn't get along with about half of them --- nice guy, glad he told me that, but ... oh well. :rolleyes: I figure it's part of the contractor's job to work things out with the adjustor --- I'm not comfortable with someone who admittedly has problems with that.
    3. One claimed to be a member of BBB but BBB has no record of him other to say that he has a good record but is claiming to be BBB and isn't BBB member.

    In any case, everything has checked out so far. I'm waiting to hear back from him to check on how they want to be paid and some other details --- if that holds up, looks like he's hired.
     
  11. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    Call a few of his references. He's probably a great contractor but calling a few references will either justify that or make you keep looking. The BBB is a joke. The are totally slanted twords businesses. Just because they have no claims on file with the BBB doesn't mean they don't have complaints filed there. After a certain length of time the BBB assumes cases are settled in favor of the business. If someone threatened to report me to the BBB I would laugh. I could get anything bad out of their files with a simple letter. True or not. The BBB is a business supported by member businesses. The fox guarding the henhouse. CALL HIS REFERENCES!
     
  12. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you did your homework and the contractor seems legit.

    The fact that you checked them out in the court docket speaks volumes.

    There is nothing one can do to insure they are getting the perfect contractor, but you certainly have done your part.

    Its my belief most shady contractors have a lengthy list of lawsuits following them about. There is a contractor in this town that has the habit of accepting funds in advance.......and the work never gets started! This contractor has a criminal record that would empty an ink cartridge were it to be printed. Even though this info is readily available to the public......his list of victims continues to increase......mainly because the guy is a talented BS er.

    I happen to believe the vast majority of contractors are hard working professionals. Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil the pie.
     
  13. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Making the checks payable to both the contractor and subcontractor also helps--both signatures are required to cash the check. Proof that you paid both. Yes, it is a hassle, but sometimes you have to do that. Although if you can charge the amounts on your credit card (I am assuming you are doing a standard 1/3 payment as work goes along) you have that added protection as well.

    I was going to add too that the BBB is like the Local Board of Realtors and the Chamber of Commerce. Anyone who pays the dues can join. As far as solving problems and getting rid of bad apples, good luck. More of a social networking club and a tax write-off for the businesses.

    Check with your State Attorney General's office, too.
     
  14. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Well, believe it or not, I've actually filed a complaint with the BBB and it stuck on the company --- not just my complaint, either. :D

    When I was running checks on the contractors, I found plenty with bad BBB stuff, and I used that as a kind of first-round eliminator. Anyone with unresolved complaints got the boot!


     
  15. charles

    charles Well-Known Member

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    Are you going to make partial payments as the work proceeds? You might ask if the company is bonded. They should be able to show you the bond. The bond means that if they don't actually finish the job then the bond company is responsible for payment to finish it.

    Companies pay higher bond rates if they've had a claim made against their bond. Therefore, a company that carries a bond has an inducement to actually finish a job.

    Small companies may not find it worthwhile to carry a bond. Most big projects, however, require the bidding company to be bonded.

    All in all though, I think that the proactive steps you've already taken are more important than a bond which only helps protect you after the fact.
     
  16. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Charles, we hammered out the payment arrangements this morning before we signed the contracts. I'm pleased to say they're very simple: the entire amount is due and payable at completion of the job ( :worship: :worship: ) -- that's because, although for us, the estimate is positively gigantic :eek: , for these guys, it's a small job.

    :eek: Sheesh, I'd hate to see what these guys think is a big job.

    I also asked a series of other questions (exactly what kinds of insurance do you all have? are you all bonded? etc.) and was referred to the back of the contract :rolleyes: where it was all carefully and completely outlined.

    :rolleyes:

    In any case, this contractor is hired, work won't start for at least a week ... so I get to forget about contractors for a while and work on my place.

    Boy, am I glad this part of the whole thing is over. Fingers crossed, the rest is pretty darned easy.