Top 10 ways to annoy your contractor

What not to do when working with a contractor

By Allan Britnell

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Expect them to work for nothing

“People tend to go with the cheapest price, and when they get a bad job they blame the contractor; but they should blame themselves. You’re not going to get a $50,000 job for $12,000,” Lussier points out. “There are people that will rip you off, but most contractors with a good name are looking to cover their costs.”

If midway through the job you decide that you’d like to have heating cables installed under the tile after all, or think that eight pot lights might work better than the six you asked for in the contract, be prepared to pay. “Changes cost money,” Brohman says.

Paul says he can’t count how many times he’s given customers quotes on jobs, has lost out to a low-bidder, then has been called in to fix the other guy’s mistakes. The icing on the cake: “They want me to cut my costs in half because they chose to go with somebody else and don’t want to pay for it twice.”

Of course, we’ve all heard about contractor horror stories. But contractors can get stiffed too. Small independent contractors often live job to job, with large volumes of materials billed to credit cards and lines of credit. “I’m OK with postdated cheques, as long as I know about it [in advance],” says Paul, who once had a cheque bounce for work he did as a favour on Christmas Eve.

Ask for too many favours

On a related note, after the work order has been finalized and the price negotiated, don’t treat a contractor as your onsite handyman without expecting to pay for it. “Some people figure that because you’re there with a tool pouch on, you can renovate their whole house for them,” Lussier says.

Those earlier friendly gestures may buy you a bit of leeway but, according to Lussier, there’s a saying in the contractor trade for customers who ask for little extras: “I can do you a favour, but after five or 10 minutes, it’s not a favour anymore; it becomes a job.”

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