Most contractors are reliable. Some aren’t. I’ve run into both.
Here’s a list of top contractor issues from a Rental Property Investor from Milwaukee, WI:
- Quality of work
- Timeliness (showing up late to appointments)
- Smoking and leaving cigarette butts on the property
- Not cleaning up the job site in general
Most of my issues with contractors involve the lower end of the contractor spectrum . . . handymen.
1. Quality of work and not listening to my request are my number one complaint.
We have large PVC pipes for our gutter system. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve explained to handymen that I wanted each coupling of the pipes screwed together. Actually, “re-fit and screwed together.” As pipes and connections settle and resettle over time, sections can pull apart. By screwing them together they maintain their integrity. I would usually get a nod of understanding, which turned out to be a nod of this-guy-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-talking-about, which becomes apparent well after the job is done and the pipes have settled and separated again and the handyman has moved on.
This image shows one connection that had settled before a screw fastened the pipe to the connector. Note that the bottom connection has not been fastened, either.
2. Timeliness (showing up late to appointments)
I cut some slack on time. Unless you are the first appointment, handymen often don’t know where a repair job with take them. But if they give you a mid-morning window and it becomes late afternoon . . . there’s a problem you should have been notified about.
3. Smoking . . . for us we want no smoking in or near our house, so if this is a deal breaker, we need to know before negotiations start. We certainly don’t want to clean up someone’s cigarette butts!
4. Not cleaning up the job site in general.
You’ve got to figure that a contractor, even a handyman is probably going to be using a truck of some kind. To me this means debris can be hauled away in the contractor’s truck. Why should I have to figure out how to cart old planks and boards and cuttings away in my little Volvo? No. This is a contractor problem. This is especially disconcerting if this was clearly stated and agreed to by the contractor.
I like to be pretty thorough in explaining what I want done and quite often supply instructions with images and specific details on what I want done. I always keep a digital file as well.
Do No Damage
I was explaining to a new handyman what I didn’t want. There was sloppy trim work left undone in our bedroom from a previous contractor. In an effort to show how good he was, the new guy reached up with a nail gun and connected the trim. Of course it was crooked and he never got back to fix it . . . and I saw the writing on the wall.
Our master bathroom has a laundry drop from the first floor. A previous handyman had done a horrible finish job of trimming the chute. The same guy says, “no problem” reaches up with a claw hammer and pulls down the trim tearing the wallboard in front of my eyes. And, yes, of course, he never completed the other handyman’s bad finish work or repaired his own damage.
A different handyman put up ceiling tiles, but decided to not follow the pattern on the last six inches of the room. Now all the tiles he cut and glued need to be removed before the ceiling can be completed with the patterns matching.
Water flows downhill, not uphill. Drain fields run downwards . . . gutters run downwards. They work by gravity.
Here are some trustworthy local contractors: domandirectories.com/Home.html
Good contractors make their money from referrals and returning clients. It’s the bad ones that feed off of first timers. Check reviews from Yelp and my Doman Directories.
Dave Shaw says
Part of the problem, too, is that many people will try to get the job done with the least amount of money coming out of their pocket. Taking the lowest bid (if indeed at least three bids were obtained) may result in getting sub-par work/materials.
I generally can do things myself; but am also willing to recognize what is beyond my skills. Then I get at least three bids, selecting the middle or highest bid and depending upon the “feel” I get from discussing the work to be done.
Don Doman says
You’ve hit the nail on the head . . . so to speak. However, in a hot market, perhaps your small job only gets one or two bids? Sometimes you come out smelling like a rose and sometimes you just come out smelling. Is a mobile society, we often see new people and new contractors trying to break into local trade. If you find someone who is new and does a fantastic job . . . sign him up for the next two or three before he gets lost in the crowd of others finding out about his or her skills. And, never forget a little tip if your are really thrilled.
For years I did the work myself, but today I like to have others climb and crawl.
Thanks for sharing.