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  • How to find a good contractor?

    I'd appreciate any tips you may have for finding a good contractor.

    I've been having a lot of problems with contractors lately - to the point that I have anxiety any time I need to hire anyone for work. I've tried everything, even going off of referrals, and still had problems. I don't know this for a fact, but I think that a lot of my problems have to do with me being female without a male living here (my husband's been deployed for going on 2 years).

    The current job can't be put off. I have a crack in the foundation of my home caused by a large tree that was too close to the house. The tree has been removed (that was a nightmare in itself and ended in me filing a restraining order on a contractor!) but I need to have the foundation repaired. I've contacted two general contractors that were referred to me and spoke to them about the problem. Both have said that they'd be out and would call before they came out to see the problem. That was 3 weeks ago.

    I'm always polite and respectful, although my husband says I'm too nice which makes people think I'm an idiot. I don't know what I have to do! Someone please give me some tips on where to find all the good guys!

  • #2
    Re: How to find a good contractor?

    You"re right. This process can be a lottery.

    Referrals from those you trust can be ok.

    Your area / state may have a Master Builders Association or similar organisation. They might be able to point you in the right direction.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: How to find a good contractor?

      I only trust referals from inside my group of trusted people.I give no credit to any organization to this date.Too easy to buy,not earn,word of mouth.The least you can do is let the bidding contractors know you will be following up on referals and you need to visually see projects in person.Not a bunch of pictures he took with himself standing in front of someone elses work.

      This takes a lot more time and energy than people allow for.

      Good luck,stay tough,don't rush.

      Adam

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      • #4
        Re: How to find a good contractor?

        If you lived in Northern Minnesota, your problem would be solved, but your just to far away for me....

        As the Australian Plumber Josh said, contact your state office, or go on line and there will be a list of contractors in you area. The two you have already contacted are ignorant for not getting with you. But sometimes we get so busy (not all of us have secretaries) and misplace names and numbers (rarely does this happen) . But 2 at the same time, they were to busy and blew you off.

        A cracked wall, isn't an emergency, a bowed in wall that happened recently most certainly is. You'll need an Excavator, Masonry, and Carpenter, possibly an Electrician and Plumber also on your job.

        What about a neighbor or friend who may have had some work done, could be they may have the right G.C. for you.
        Great Link for a Construction Owner/Tradesmen, and just say Garager sent you....

        http://www.contractorspub.com

        A good climbing rope will last you 3 to 5 years, a bad climbing rope will last you a life time !!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: How to find a good contractor?

          Thanks for the tips! I'll look into the local building associations. I haven't found any on google yet, but I'll keep looking.

          My group of friends usually don't talk about working on the house... it's usually more about babies and job stress! I'll ask around some more to see if anyone else has had this problem. I've heard clay soil is bad for foundations so there's got to be someone else in my area who's had a problem!

          Thanks Garager, I wish I knew someone like you around here! From the sounds of it, this will be an even bigger project than I initially thought.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: How to find a good contractor?

            http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14346561/
            This is a link to a show done in a 'to catch a predator' style but it's a different sort of scumbag that should also be burned at the stake, shady contractors. They run repeats of the show fairly often. It's well worth watching if your in the market for a contractor.
            INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
            Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: How to find a good contractor?

              I should send my story about the tree in! That guy was a real wacko. Short version of the story is that I hired him to remove a very large oak tree from my front yard. He tried to remove my 3 year old beautiful cedar picket fence (didn't ask me first) in order to remove the tree. He ended up breaking my fence and crushing a large section of a drywell system with his truck. He took off after that and never even touched the tree. He wouldn't return my calls, so I ended up calling his insurance agency (who, I found out later, were his relatives!) who then called him and got him to return my call.

              After I explained to him that he needed to pay for the repairs and that I had 4 neighbors from 4 residences that saw him damage my property, he started coming around my house at odd hours of the day and night, sometimes coming to the door just to yell at me, other times he would just sit in front of my house. He also started making threatening phone calls to my work and cell phone. He knew my husband was away and that I was there alone, so I think he was trying to intimidate me into dropping it. Oh, and somehow, my basement window ended up broken in completely. Wonder who did that...

              I filed a complaint against him with the Attorney General's Office (they can shut him down and fine him) and I filed a restraining order. My husband is a Reservist, but he's a cop as a civilian, so he's been having his coworkers check up on me too.

              I'm still pretty scared sometimes when I hear noises outside or when the dog barks at things at night.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: How to find a good contractor?

                Originally posted by ellie View Post

                The current job can't be put off. I have a crack in the foundation of my home caused by a large tree that was too close to the house. The tree has been removed (that was a nightmare in itself and ended in me filing a restraining order on a contractor!) but I need to have the foundation repaired. I've contacted two general contractors that were referred to me and spoke to them about the problem. Both have said that they'd be out and would call before they came out to see the problem. That was 3 weeks ago.
                What kind of foundation do you have and how deep is it (do you have a basement, concrete, block, etc)? Is the foundation bowed or just has a crack? Can you take a pic of it?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: How to find a good contractor?

                  My foundation is poured concrete. I don't know how deep it is. I have a partial basement, and the crack is located in the crawl space area. The crawl space is probably about 3 feet. No, there's no bowing, just the one crack. It's pretty significant though... probably about a 1/2" at the top.

                  Sure, I'll try to take a picture after work today.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: How to find a good contractor?

                    Sorry for the delay. I've been sick and haven't felt up to crawling around in the dirt down there!

                    I'll link the pictures because they're too large to post in the thread:
                    Last edited by ellie; 03-14-2008, 08:37 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How to find a good contractor?

                      Just as a thought...kind of curiosity...would it be a good idea to use liquid nails in that crack? Something like that you could use almost like a caulk to squeeze it into the crack. Maybe something else would be better. I'm hoping one of the more experienced brighter-types (just about all the others on here) will answer.

                      As far as finding a contractor, that's always a source of contention. I've used the contractor sites for work, and I've been very disappointed. I think using the local building associations and Better Business Bureau would work well. Check out the local Commerce commission, they might have some good leads as well. Take the tips from these folks on how to work with the contractors. Using these methods, I'm sure you could find someone to do the work.

                      It may be that they all feel it's too small a job to waste time on, however. You may find yourself having to learn a little and do it yourself. If you can't find a licensed contractor to do the work, you'll have to take it on yourself. It's not impossible, although intimidating. But...it can be done!
                      I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: How to find a good contractor?

                        Is this crack growing?

                        Can you get a small slide of clear glass (credit card size) and glue it to the concrete across the crack with a non flexible super glue type adhesive. Use a single dab of adhesive on either side of the crack.

                        Monitor the slide. If it breaks, your crack is growing. Make a note of how long it took for the slide to break, if at all.
                        I think having an independent engineer or building consultant inspect the problem to diagnose would be a good idea. They could give you a written report with diagnosis and recommended method of repair .

                        Having contractors quote on the same recommended repair lets you compare apples with apples.

                        To be really sure have the same engineer inspect the repair and certify that its done to his specification. This way there is certification that the job is correctly done and some kind of recourse of problems recurr.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: How to find a good contractor?

                          Ellie, try going down to your local municipal building and locate the building dept. Speak to the construction official and tell him your story, he should know who the competent local guys are and I expect is the best person to give you referral based on who takes out permits and passes inspections without hassles. Also don't be afraid to speak to the clerk behind the counter, especially in some of the smaller townships these ladies usually know all the gossip and don't hold back anything.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: How to find a good contractor?

                            Thanks for the replies!

                            Sandy - I'm all for doing the work myself when I can (see all my calluses and nubby fingernails in the pics? ), but with something structural, I want to make sure it's done right.

                            Josh - the crack doesn't appear to be growing any more. I've been watching it since I first saw it in April '07. The tree (I was told the tree caused the crack) was removed in November '07 and doesn't appear to be growing since then. That's a great idea about having an engineer out. That way I can feel confident and not worry about it at night!

                            Batman - I have no idea why I didn't think of that myself!! My husband's aunt is a clerk for my town's housing authority!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: How to find a good contractor?

                              Sorry to bump an old thread but I have a new question. I was finally able to get someone to come out and look at the foundation of my house. (thanks for all the tips!)

                              He told me that the problem is that I'm missing part of my sill plate and that's causing pressure to be put on the front corner where there is a sill plate. He said he'd need to jack up my house and put in a sill plate there in order for the concrete to stop shifting. The part where the sill plate is missing runs parallel to the floor joists.

                              My question is - does this sound right to you guys? I never thought a sill plate had a structural significance...

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