How to Get Along with Your Contractor

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Subject: In general these are good

In general these are good suggestions.
With 30 years in business I think every client that offered a beverage was a reasonable customer, I have taken that to be a marker of a job that will end well.
The "be clear" part can't be emphasized enough, many clients are intimidated by a contract and scope of work that seems to be a mile long but that is far better than "working out the details as we go along".

John Johansen

Subject: Keeping Contractor happy.

I have always kept them happy. I pay cash and on a daily basis if they prefer. One word about timeliness, I too am and have been a contractor for 30+ years. SHOW UP ON TIME? I know that I do, contractors are NOTORIOUS! for ALWAYS showing up late. Flip it.


Subject: Contractors

One way to compare contractors is how their payment draws are set up. A company requiring a large deposit may be sketchy. A company asking for 50 percent after ten percent of the job is done may be elusive. Swimming pool contractors who want half their money after digging a hole in your yard should cause immediate concern.



I agree 100% with this post. As a homeowner who works in sales, I know how frustrating it is when a client is not available at the scheduled time. I also think it is vital that you let a contractor know why they did not get the sale. If the contractor is loosing a lot of business because of price, it is in their best interest to re-consider their pricing compared to their competition.

R. Davidson


Just curious, when selecting a bldg. contractor is it acceptable to ask for a copy of proof of workmen's comp and liabiity insurance?

Carol Ondrick


Great information and comments.
I am trying to get estimates on a (3) year old roof needing repair. Unfortunately I did not use a source like Angies List (3) years ago when trying to secure the best/honest contractor with the most fair price. He was a BBB member (which means nothing) but he included a (5) year leak warranty but apparently he is no longer in business. Now I have a leak and I have to pay to fix it. It is very true that estimates cost time and money to the contractor, but I don't understand how there is such a difference in opinion on how to fix a roof and how the costs vary so much.


Subject: Why estimates vary so much for a roofer

Whatever your job is, there are three main variables:
1> What quality of materials are specified > the best is often not much more of your total cost even when its double or
more the cheap products.

2> Labor charged: minimum wages v union scale or higher? These are not labor costs to the contractor, just what they
are charging you per hour/per worker. You can be sure a contractor billing top dollar is not paying that all over to the

3> Overhead and profit: The bigger the firm, the higher the fixed cost overhead. In some cases they may have skills
and expertise that make it worth your while, not always.

If you think contractors use some kind of science to charge you a fair price, forget it. Some under charge, because they don't know the value of their work, or they just need cash now to pay bills they owe (lucky you), but most over charge,
not because their work is so much better, just they are better at selling you on them being the guy. The top end super stars have earned their reputation. Whatever they charge is more a matter of what they want, as their rich clientele is buying status and quality, not concerned about cost.

When doing a roof, it helps if you actually understand how its installed. Poor installation will defeat the very best quality materials.

Joseph Hamby


I would like to add that even in todays economy that Homeowners should respect the time and effort that it takes to prepare an estimate. One issue that I have concerns with is when a homeowner starts calling more than 3 contractors to bid out the project. It creates confusion and way to many differing opinions about the project. To be more specific there are trade contractors out ther that can and will do that specific trade cheaper than we can. I have noticed this trend time and time again that my price should be lowered because some other trade quoted X to my Z. It is not possible when you are paying payroll taxes, Workers Comp and liability to compete with a trade that carries a policy and then excludes themselves to basically work for wages.You would not believe the things I have seen with people not quoting a job properly and then not finishing when the money ran out.We laways do what we say we are going to do and finish our projects. That has been our lifeblood for the past 20 years.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.