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Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Hate Renovating

During the 15 years we've lived in this 1957 Roanoke house we've had to use quite a few contractors. A painter, a closet builder, a wooden floor refinisher, a ceramic floor tile installer, a plumber, an HVAC tech, a concrete patio designer, a window installer, and most recently, a vinyl siding and roofing crew, have been hired. The majority of them did not perform the job they were paid to do, to my satisfaction. And, I am a forgiving customer. It's because of contractors that I hate renovating.

Why is it the homeowner is promised the job will be completed "as if it was my house" only to realize many contractors must live in a dump. With the prices they charge, I find that hard to believe. In the beginning, they're always so gung-ho. Some even show up on time. But it's more than likely there will be days when they don't show up. Period. The increase of that possibility happens with the increase of the cash in their hands. Suddenly the job doesn't have the same urgency when the contractor was hungry. There's always an excuse, but I cannot understand why a mere phone call telling the homeowner what's up, cannot be placed.

Now, even when they eventually do show up, the quality of the work is something less than desirable. Over the years, dealing with Roanoke area contractors, my expectations have gotten lower and lower. It doesn't matter whether they're a big name company, or anyone else who does work "on the side." The results are usually the same -- I'm aggravated, stressed, disappointed and a lot poorer.

I really had hopes with the last crew. This roofer came recommended very highly. Initially, I said no, solely because he took too many days longer to call than he had said he would. To me that was a flag. My husband thought we should give him slack because he was a fireman and might have been on duty those days. I agreed to meet in person. He brought the samples. I picked what I wanted. He promised it would be done in 2 days, and I wouldn't have to wait 8 weeks for him to start like I would have, had I gone with the other possibility. He quoted a price. I didn't haggle. Let's just do this.

I was impressed when he showed up only one day late, and with a full crew. When I saw how much they had accomplished in only one day I thought, "Wow, finally a contractor who sticks to his word."

The following day, he didn't show up, but three crew members did. I was less impressed when I saw the quality of work concerning the siding, et al, and insisted they redo some of it. They did, and it looked much better. Still, I couldn't understand how they would think I would allow their work to remain in the state they had left it.

Then the metal flashing was discovered to be damaged. Some of it. Half of it was already on the house. He had to order more so the house would not be ready in two or three days. I already began to suspect that, as each day less and less workers showed up, until there was one. The snow white flashing was nowhere to be found. Fed Ex wouldn't be arriving until Monday. It was already Friday. The completion wouldn't be until the following week. Monday comes, but the flashing doesn't. Tuesday arrives, and so does the contractor with the flashing. He finally ending up going to the people I was going to hire, and asked them what color they had used around my windows. I thought snow white was the closest, but that manufacturer could not get it. Luckily the new metal matched.

They finished Tuesday evening...9 days from the start. Considering what I've endured in the past, I was actually content with that time frame. He said he was done, I paid him, and he said the gutter guy would come Thursday. I immediately suspected the gutter guy was not a local, but a transplant, as he arrived a half hour before he was supposed to. He originally came from upstate New York and had been living here about as many years as we had. He had his crew and they set right to work. Before he was finished, he realized he needed another bend and said he had to go buy one. He promised he'd be back within the hour. He was.

As he was on the roof, he asked me if I knew that there were about five feet of tiles missing near the vent. No, I didn't. He said there was just tarpaper but nothing on top of it and that would be a problem. Well, duh, yeah. I just had a new roof installed...where's the rest of the roof? Since there was no way we would have discovered it -- we couldn't see it from the ground, and we don't climb on the roof -- I would never have known I'd been screwed until I was getting water in my sunroom.

How could somebody do that? The roofer never said, "I ran out of tiles, I have to come back." No, he said, "We're finished." When my husband finally got him on the phone, the roofer/fireman said, "I know, I have the tiles in my truck. I'll get there as soon as I can." Now to us, as soon as I can, means a lot less than 4 days. During those 4 days our calls went unanswered. It was only after the person who recommended him to us called him and asked him what the hell was up, "I got busy," was the reply, did the roofer say he would be there the next day. He never did bother calling us.

I didn't even know he was here until I heard banging on the roof. By the time I got dressed and went outside, he said he was finished, and that he had the wrong tiles so he had to wait for the right ones. When I told him I couldn't believe he left just tarpaper, and without telling us, he said it would have stopped the rain, and never addressed the not telling us part. He was very arrogant and never once offered an apology. I am convinced if he hadn't gotten caught, he never would have come back.

Is it that local contractors deride great pleasure in screwing with a Yankee, or, are they just incompetent and lazy? We can't be the only ones who go through this every single time.


  1. I am sorry to hear you had such troubles, and with a fireman, no less. I know a lot of them do other things on the side.

    Unfortunately, I think it is rampant. I hate it when something goes wrong that requires repair.

  2. I know Anita, that's why we thought he could be trusted...especially since we knew other firemen that he knew! I'm just glad we didn't have to go down to the fire house to track him down.

    I can't imagine ever being one of those women who constantly are thanks!