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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default HELP!-Finding a contractor that will actually call us back...

    My husband and I recently bought a house (mid-May this year) we would like to renovate. We've had a structural engineer( our home inspector) verify that the current structure would support the renovations that we want to do. We have measured drawing of the house as it stands on a consumer CAD program, as well as an idea of what we would like to do ( which involves tearing down walls and re-doing the ceiling in a couple of places) as well as a detailed schedule of the current electrical panel, what the additional sub-panel would be, and the start of a punch list for each room we want to renovate.
    The problem is (and, I hear, this is common in Southern NJ) we cannot get a contractor to do the work. We have had three so far who won't return our calls. They talk on the phone with us, two have shown up to see the house, then nothing. One bailed the day before via email, didn't even come to the house. Here is a copy of the email:
    "Sorry I will not be able to make tomorrows appointment. Fortunately, I have taken on several jobs this week and would not be able to bid on your job for several weeks. Sorry for the short notice."
    And this guy was accredited with the Better Business Bureau and Angie's List! The reason I picked him is because on Angie's List, the person who posted said what they liked about him was he showed up, did the work, and on time.
    We have told all three contractors that we are willing to have them do the formal drawings, or we're willing to do them, or pay an architect to do them. We would also be willing to file for permits, or have them do it. We have the money set aside and, based on approximate cost, we would do all or part of the project at one time Nothing...
    How can we get someone to come out and afterwards actually WANT to do the work? We were hoping to have had permits filed by now. This is incredibly frustrating!
    Any ideas?
    Thanks.
    Mary Jo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: HELP!-Finding a contractor that will actually call us back...

    I used to live in Bucks County Pa and Burlington County NJ.

    My 2˘... Finding Contractors in NJ is tougher than finding contractors in Pa.
    Have you try to find contractors in Pa that has license / permits to work in NJ?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: HELP!-Finding a contractor that will actually call us back...

    I grew up in NC, parents never had this problem...
    Will check for PA licensed in NJ. Also, I understand the " get in line" stuff it's a busy time of year, but, we had "sounds good, I'll call you in 2 days + email you drawings" turned into no call-no show for 2 of them.
    Stinks....
    MJ

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    near St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: HELP!-Finding a contractor that will actually call us back...

    I understand you are anxious to get underway on your project but keep in mind that the good contractors are booked up well in advance. They are busy because people know they do good work and hire them and refer their friends and family to them. I’d be way more worried about the guy who says he can do the work next week.

    Check out the contractors. Ask them for a brief appointment by phone to discuss your project. See Tom Silva’s advice here:
    How to Hire a Contractor (Tom Silva, This Old House)

    If they do projects of your size and they know you are willing to wait until they are available then they will likely be more willing to at least let you “get in line”.

    Don’t be so desperate for someone to do the work that you skip the necessary background work. Check out the articles below on hiring a contractor.

    How to Hire a Professional Remodeler – NAHB
    The Inside Scoop on How to Evaluate a Professional Remodeler -- NAHB
    Directory of Professional Remodelers – National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
    Find Your Local Remodelers Council -- NAHB
    National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
    Hiring a Residential Building Contractor (Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry)
    Can't We All Just Get Along?
    A good relationship between architect and contractor is key to a smooth renovation — and it can save you a bundle.
    TOH's 6-Point Plan for Getting the Best (This Old House Magazine)
    Sensible Payment Plans (Danny Lipford on TOH ******)
    Get it in Writing (TOH Magazine)
    A signed agreement with your contractor is the best protection against disappointment — or worse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: HELP!-Finding a contractor that will actually call us back...

    I mostly agree what has been posted here.

    We have measured drawing of the house as it stands on a consumer CAD program, as well as an idea of what we would like to do ( which involves tearing down walls and re-doing the ceiling in a couple of places) as well as a detailed schedule of the current electrical panel, what the additional sub-panel would be, and the start of a punch list for each room we want to renovate.
    The one thing that stands out here is basically this is still only an idea. Perhaps if you have the architectual drawings already in place it might show the contractors you are serious. The drawings would be needed for the contractors to be able to quote from since they would know what's what.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: HELP!-Finding a contractor that will actually call us back...

    Sounds like you need a design builder - they can navigate you through the local requirements for getting a permit, usually work with an architect they know and get along with, and can help you with a realistic design. So in interviewing or inquiring about contractors ask them about their design build experiance.

    Also - there seems to be more ****** solicitation happening. it may be a way to attract contractors but be forewarned some areas of the country are less willing to adopt the web as a viable solicitation medium.

    Try servicemagic or
    shortlister

    If that fails you word of mouth will always be the best method

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