If you’re hiring a contractor for your next remodeling project, I’m sure you’re planning on checking on his/her experience. Any contractor that’s been around awhile is going to have stories to tell. Most will share the good ones. Few will share the stories that didn’t go so well.
But which experiences really make the most difference for you?
I say it’s the mistakes they’ve made that have the most value to you today. Mistakes, invariably, cost a contractor money. Sometimes just a little, sometimes it’s the whole wheelbarrow full that he had hoped to take to the bank! Construction is risky work and mistakes avoided are money in the bank.
An example from my experience:
On one of my first large design/build jobs, we were adding a two-bedroom guest “wing” onto an already large home. This house was a big Florida Style home with soaring ceilings and tall windows and doors. All of the “normal” windows in the house were about ten feet high at the top.
The building plans I had drawn-up used a standard wall section to show the overall assembly of the walls. Unfortunately the “standard” height of a window lintel (the concrete beam above a window in a block wall) is generally just under 7 feet high and that’s what this section still showed.
So that’s where the block mason put the lintels. All eight of them. And then finished the walls above them. Not good.
While I never really felt 100% responsible for that mistake (because it was easy to see that there were no 6′-8″ windows on the house, and because the ‘elevation’ views on the plans showed the windows correctly) it was my job and therefore the responsibility and cost to fix it was mine.
That was about 15 years ago. Do you know how many times that has happened on my job since then? Not once. I learned valuable lessons that have (so far) kept me from letting that mistake happen again.
So, if you’re looking to hire a contractor for a remodeling job, pay close attention to what kind of experience they have, and if you hear about mistakes they’ve made, see if you can find out how they handled it, and what they learned.
Those expensive lessons they’ve learned can save you thousands upon thousands of dollars now.