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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twenty Rules for Home Contractors

I sometimes hire contractors to do work on our house. Usually I get them to do work that hurts my back or labor on tasks I am unqualified to perform. Most times, I just hire them because I’m too lazy to do the job. I get three or four estimates before making a decision on the bid award. I thought I’d pass along a few tips to the salesmen who make my dog crazy when they slam their truck doors.

1. Show up on time. If you can’t show up on time, call ten minutes before you were supposed to get here and tell me what time you can get here. I schedule appointments for ten minutes after I get home from work. Don’t make me sit around and watch Internet porn in the interim.

2. Take your time. Don’t try to speak to me as if you were an Evelyn Wood graduate. If I don’t understand something, take some time to explain it to me. I’m 53. I have a long attention span.

3. Stop being an asshole.

4. This should be number one, but I didn’t want to appear revolutionary. Do NOT assume I am straight. Don’t call to reschedule and ask if Mrs. Wiley might be home earlier to receive your pitch. Maybe I recently divorced Mrs. Wiley. Maybe Mrs. Wiley, committed suicide in 2001. Perhaps Mrs. Wiley is on a respirator. The only thing even close to a Mrs. Wiley is Other Bill, and he works later than I do, so stick to the schedule.

5. Continuing with number four, don’t assume I’ll laugh at your sexist jokes about how the man has to take out the garbage; the man’s got to please the little woman; the man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. In my case, the man has stopped listening and is doing everything he can to refrain from projectile vomiting all over you.

6. Don’t tell me if you fired your “office girl” three years ago because of the bad economy. That does not instill confidence.

7. Don’t give me a fistful of brochures and say, “I can get this.” I can get that too, probably cheaper, and do it myself. Show me pictures of the work you’ve done and give me the phone numbers of the last three people you’ve worked for, or at least the last three who speak English.

8. If your overhead is an ’87 Silverado and a cell phone, do your best to shield me from that. Or, better yet, cancel your appointment.

9. A comb-over? Are you kidding me?

10. If you have a 99-cent OfficeMax binder with an underbite and cheesy, draft-print pictures falling out of flimsy sheet protectors, here are a few words for you: lamination, laptop, PowerPoint presentation.

11. If you smell like alcohol and cigarettes, I’m usually able to detect that.

12. Don’t tell me I’ll have to hire another contractor to precede your work. Subcontract and don’t tell me about it. I won’t ask for employee ID cards. If I have to hire two companies to do what I consider one job, I’ll just live with things the way they are. Unless my roof is leaking. Then I’ll just put up a tarp.

13. If at all possible, do your best to look hot. Take advantage of my weaknesses. I have hired men because of their looks. One hottie’s work was shoddy and had to be redone a few months later. Stanley is in jail now, but he’s the only contractor whose name I remember. Although he both smoke and drank heavily, he worked shirtless and drove a Harley. I can’t say no to that, even if he did have his license revoked.

14. If you see the dated, worn-out Obama bumper sticker on my car, you also voted for him.

15. If by some chance you’re a gay contractor, sweet Jesus, don’t tell me about all the drama going on in your life and expect me to identify with you. We once made the mistake of having post-quote dinner with a gay house painter, and we both came this close to stabbing him in the eyes with forks to get him to shut up. We ended up tackling the job ourselves, and what he said he could do solo in two days ended up taking us six weeks to do right. He followed rule number 13, but in his case, we made an exception. Sure, we could overlook his being high on meth, but negotiations ended when he told us that business was slow and he was making ends meet by charging for sex. Ew.

16. Clean up and take your crap with you. My grandfather was a carpenter and never left without sweeping up. If you forget some tools and don’t call to inquire about them, they’re mine. And I’ll use them. How do you think I got this nice table saw?

17. Don’t steal my tools and tell me you never saw them. I literally handed you that crowbar, Stanley. When you get out of federal prison, I’d like to have it back and get a peek at those bowling-ball biceps of yours (wink, wink).

18. Don’t charge me for a five gallon bucket and then show up with two one-gallon buckets. I know this because you left them behind. See rule number 16.

19. I know how difficult it is to cut crown molding. You miter it upside down and backwards. That doesn’t necessitate a Master Craftsman fee of $20 a linear foot.

20. If by some remote chance you win the contract, remember there might be more work in the future here if you do a good job. I once hired a window replacement guy to also hang some siding, break out a window and replace it with a door, and build a deck around the pool.

God, he was hot.

Creative Commons License by Bill Wiley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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