by Cliff H. Lake Forest, CA
Aug. 21, 2018
Hindsight is always 20:20 and I would never go ahead with any contracting work in the future without having everything written down. But it is hard to resist when you have the chance to save a lot of money. House renovations are expensive. We needed our kitchen redoing and I am pretty handy myself so I thought we could do it on the cheap. I wanted to get all the really messy work done by a crew and then I would see how much I could do myself.
I asked around a few friends and got a guy’s name who did a lot of reno work under the table, cash only. My friend had used him to do some drywalling and had not had a problem. So I arranged to meet the guy and he seemed to know what he was talking about. He gave me a really good price as long as I paid cash as we went along. I asked him if we could put it in writing but he shrugged it off and said that would increase the price. He made me feel better by saying I didn’t have to pay anything upfront but could just pay him after each stage was completed. I thought this was reasonable and not a risk to me.
So the guy started the job with a group of workers who didn’t speak any English. They worked for a few days and then no one turned up. I got a call from the main guy saying he was called away on another job and so would only be able to work on my place at the weekends. The problem was they had started gutting the kitchen and the place was a mess and now this mess was going to go on a lot longer. I argued that we had an agreement but of course I didn’t have a contract so didn’t have a leg to stand on. It was not good but I agreed.
The next weekend only one guy turned up when I was expecting a whole crew. He was really slow and didn’t make much progress. No-one turned up on Sunday. I called the main dude but he said the other job was much bigger and paying better so couldn’t finish mine. What!! The kitchen was a wreck and I now had to find someone else to take on the job.
This time I contacted contractors that were kosher. The price was not as attractive but I coughed up and they did the job properly, coming in every day. It was harder to negotiate at which point I wanted them to stop so I could take over. Obviously they wanted to do a complete job. I got them to do most of the work and just did the finishing touches. In the end it worked out OK but lesson learned. No more cutting corners and get it all in writing.