Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Deal..... or no Deal?

We like that show here at our house. At first we thought is was dumb but then it's really the perfect mindless entertainment after lots of project planning and quote analysis- really.

Which brings us to our current dilemna: selecting a contractor. I am going to give a brief outline of all three contractors we've met with and gotten quotes etc... I think I know who we should select, but I am interested to hear your opinions of course. All checked out OK on the Better Business Bureau website. All spent about 2 hours+ going over the project with us at our home. They are listed in the order in which we met with them.

This person will handle rough framing, drywall, and finish carpentry for the project only.

Contractor #1 Miro
Referred to us by our favorite electrician. He is a young guy who learned the business from his Dad. He brought numerous photos of jobs and they were mainly kitchens and baths and the work was good. According to him he has done 4 jobs similar in nature to ours. He ALWAYS answers his phone when we call. He took us to see a few of his projects on a Sunday afternoon. We thought the work was of acceptable quality. He did not provide a formal quote but gave us a breakdown, but will let us write a contract and buy all materials. His quote was in the middle price-wise.

Contractor #2 Dan
We found him on Angie's List. He is a bit older but his business is relatively new-7 years. He said he's done one job like ours. His website shows a good caliber of work, but we want to see something in person. We spoke to a current client of his who raved about him (he combined a 2BD and 1BD condo into one in a lakefront high-rise for her). She asked me to call her back this week to schedule seeing the work. He runs his business out of his home and gave us a P.O. box when we asked for a business address-maybe a misunderstanding. He never answers his phone and it takes a long time for him to call us back. Sent us a pretty detailed quote on letterhead although he bid on items we did not request. His price was significantly lower and therefore tempting, but the communication issues are a concern for us.

Contractor #3 Marian
Also found on Angie's List. Had strong feelings against us refinishing the tub and was for redoing plumbing. Replacing the tub and plumbing isn't in our budget. Experienced. Knowledgable. Came with a laptop with many photos and left a CD with tons of projects (95% kitchens & baths)- all look good. His quote consisted of some bare bones info emailed to us with quite a few typos and many questions for us to follow up on. We have yet to address it. He called to follow up and said, "I want you to talk to me before you make a decision." We will honor that request certainly. His prices are the highest and we aren't sure why. We discussed doing no-permits with him so we would think the prices would be lower...

Here are the main things we are considering:
1. Honesty
2. Trust
3. Communication
4. Experience
and finally....
5. Can we work with this person?

Other general questions that we ask:
1. Have they worked on old homes? Someone could be quite competent at new construction but putting things back together in an old home involves a different skill set.
2. Do they have a business license? Are they insured?


SmilingJudy said...

I think Houseblogs was slow to pick up on your post (it was buried behind things I'd already read last time I checked in), so don't be dismayed if not many people weigh in. Repost it instead. :)

I think I'd pick Miro.

Jocelyn said...

Thanks Judy. Plus maybe the change to our banner slowed it down.

We are kinda thinking Miro too :)

allison said...

I vote for the first remodeling contractor. The fact that he answers his phone quickly and is very responsive goes a long way with me. One suggestion is to ask him if you can see his rough framing and other work on a project before the walls are closed – that will tell you a lot about how detail oriented he is. Forget the contractor who never calls back – if this is how he responds when he’s trying to get your business then how will he act after he has it? Good luck! Home Improvement Ideas blog

glenn said...

The Chicago Department of Buildings posts lists of contractors licensed by the city under Trade Licensing in the DoB area of the city's website. (

I would also check to make sure the person you hire carries workman's comp insurance for his employees. if not, you could be liable if a worker is hurt on your premises.

Kristin said...

The first guy sounds good to me. I hate it when people don't call back, and that last guy sounded like the kind to stick you with a higher bill at the end.

CPB said...

We used Dan to do some finishing carpentry work on our house. He is a neighbor. He was the cheapest carpenter by far. And then he came in under budget. It's 2 years later and some of the work still looks fantastic. Some of it does not. His wife is an architect and sometimes consults on the jobs for him. He's done work in several of our neighbors' homes, but I don't know that I would hire him again.

BTW, I found your blog when searching for that article in the Trib about 2-flats.

Jocelyn said...

cpb- thanks for the comment. We are not going with Dan because he's fully booked for the year he tells us.