Contracting for Tree and Housework

   Last evening i was looking at a magazine article about dealing with home contractors & i remembered the tree scammers who came through our  neighborhood last year.

The Tree Guys

  They had all the classic signs of scammers.  While MyGuy and i have bought tag ends of gravel loads from door to door sellers, we don't otherwise deal with such sellers.  The tree guys were going door to door, wanting 100% cash upfront, and names of other people on whom they might call.
  No references or proof of bonding, insurance, etc., offered.
  When they came to us, we sent them on without any encouragement.

One Tree, Two Yards

  But one of our trees hangs over a neighbor's yard.
  He came to us, and asked us to go in with him to pay to have it removed.
  We agreed, but needed evidence this was a reputable business first.  Are they licensed, bonded?  And absolutely we were  NOT giving any cash up front, though we would have written a check to  our neighbor if he had insisted on going through with this deal.
  Well, that got him  thinking.
  Reputable business people don't need all the fees in cash upfront.
  And they sure don't get antsy at the mention of the words "license" and "bonding."

Act II

  After the tree guys cleared out, our neighbor found his own tree guys & we fulfilled our original bargain with him.
  Then we discovered that several other neighbors ordered by these guys. They had been left with barely started or unstarted work.
  And, of course, no cash.
  Or in-service contact information.

Scammer or Legit?

  It's easy enough to find online how to recognize a good contractor from a not so good.  The article i read was in AAA's Home and Away magazine, but this particular article is not among the online offerings.
  Here's a sample of what's out there.  It's comprehensive: there are 25 factors to look at, with unacceptable, good, better, and best of each, plus how to find documentation if it's not offered.
  MyGuy is pretty clever about heading off these guys, but you could be too.  Probably the hardest things are remembering 1) not everybody is honest, and 2) yes, you might miss hiring some really nice guys if you take these precautions, but you're more likely to protect yourself.

When We Added On

The last item on the NARI list is Job Site Cleanup.  The company which did our upstairs additon cleaned up every day.
   Our twenty-something sons were little kids when we did this, so it's been long enough to have perspective.
  Did we check out every item on the list & get "the best"?  No.
   Did everything go perfectly?  No.
  But we did hire a reputable company - i think 10 years in business when we hired them, still at it, and we got references without knowing to ask.
  Overall we were very pleased & would hire them again.  Or at least strongly consider hiring them.
  Most of the problems we had were because we didn't communicate enough. The others were because MyGuy and i disagreed.
  •   i wanted the stairs one way; MyGuy & the firm said another was better.  You know which we have.  And which i think still we should have had.
  •   i drew windows on the plan and wrote, "Something like this.  Match them to windows on first floor."  We got tiny windows centered in the rooms - except the ones that were actually being worked on when i dropped in during the workday.
  •   Toward the end of the job, we decided to change the position of two bedroom doors.  We didn't think that that would change the location of a light switch to a less convenient place.
  •   On the morning they were "stringing" the rooms (marking the layout with string), i hadn't realized this was an opportunity for input.  So when i was awakened & told it was ready for me to see, i chose to let them continue with it as it was rather than make them wait 45 minutes while i got there.  So 3 rooms are smaller than we'd like, and one disproportionately large.
  • And, though MyGuy objected to the cost, we really, really should've sprung for the self-cleaning bathrooms.

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