We have a cautionary tale to share with you today, an illustration that brings to mind that old phrase, penny wise and pound foolish. We encounter situations like this sometimes, unfortunately, and we really hate to see a homeowner in this predicament.
Below is an email we received recently from a prospective client who regrettably chose a less reliable company to build a deck at their home.
Archadeck of Akron with this homeowner for a design consultation, created a custom deck design, drew up specs, and presented them with a quote for the job. The homeowner also met with two other builders and received quotes from them as well.
We’ll let the homeowner tell you what happened. Here is that email:
We had two quotes come in lower than yours, and made a highly regrettable decision to go with one of those contractors. While the lower price was enticing, we now have a whole mess of problems to deal with. He started the project on April 1 (perhaps this was an April Fools joke) and lied to us about obtaining a permit and regarding initial inspection. We caught him in his lie on Friday when he claimed to have the deck completed. Aside from the numerous issues with quality of the work (which was most certainly not completed as he claimed) he admitted that he lied about the permit and inspections. So we now have to work with the city to see if there is any way to approve the work without tearing the deck down, and then hopefully remedy the remaining issues. Meanwhile, we are stuck with a deck and steps that we’re afraid to allow our children on because we’re not confident that they’re safe. I guess we certainly are learning the hard way that you get what you pay for. If we had a do-over, I’d gladly pay you the higher price for quality work.
What a nightmare situation this homeowner was left to straighten out. It may be hard to believe that a builder would lie to the client about obtaining a building permit. It may be hard to believe a contractor would say the city had come out to perform an inspection when they had not. In an industry where most tell the truth and try to keep their promises, there will always be a few bad apples. It is really unfortunate because a few bad contractors tend to leave the impression that all contractors are bad.
A Job Done Well is Always Worth More Than a Job Gone Bad
This homeowner’s email illustrates the value of getting your project done right the first time. This family may end up paying more to have their deck built and re-built than they would have if they’d chosen Archadeck’s higher bid.
We don’t know whether the homeowner chose the lowest bid or the one in the middle. Many people go with the middle bid, assuming it’s safe to do so, and assuming the high bidder is simply overcharging. How do you know the contractor with the middle bid is reliable?
How do you know whether the high bidder is overcharging you or will actually produce a significantly better-designed and better-built structure for you? What if the high bidder’s work is worth the additional cost?
Lesson Learned: It Definitely Pays To Do Your Homework Before Hiring a Builder
The expression Buyer beware! is an excellent one to keep in mind when you get more than one quote and are trying to determine which builder to select. The best way to prevent a mistake like this one is to do your homework as well as seek out information about each of the outdoor living contractors you are considering. A reputable contractor will be happy to provide names and contact information of previous clients who will talk about their experience with that contractor.
What other homework should a homeowner do?
Educate yourself in the area of the project you are planning. One great thing to do would be to call the building department and learn the requirements. Then ask your potential contractors. At this point, you know the answer and do not have to rely on their response. Answers that differ too far from what you learned should throw up a red flag. Before the project starts, ask for a copy of the permit.
During the project ask to see the inspection sticker for the foundation. Here is another important thing to ask before choosing a contractor; ask for a copy of their general liability insurance and workers compensation. This is one area that surprises me the most. On average one potential customer per year asks me to provide them a copy of this paperwork.
Lastly, plan ahead. If you are thinking of a new outdoor project start planning and talking to contractors a minimum of 3 months in advance of when you are hoping to start. The good builders are busy. This leaves more room for the not so good ones to sneak in.
It’s not a good idea to rush through this project. I know what some of you are thinking and I have to admit I think similarly. I am smart enough to choose the right contractor and I can spot the red flags. Talking about the bad apples, yes some of them throw up easy red flags to spot. Others not so much. The more they lie or make up stories the more believable they come to a new potential client. It is usually not until after a project starts that the customer picks up on it. The truth of the matter is the customers who we have gone to fix or finish projects for that ran into issues are no less smart than you or I. Regardless of your budget and the size of your outdoor living project, why waste your money by working with someone who’s not ethical or qualified? At Archadeck of Akron, we welcome your inquiries and we’re happy to have you speak with prior clients.
Are you looking for an ethical and qualified company to design and build the perfect outdoor living space for your home? Archadeck of Akron is focused on meeting our clients’ needs and producing outdoor living structures of the highest quality that will last the test of time. To get started, just call. You can contact Archadeck of Akron today at (330) 537-6412.
Patrick Sluss, owner Archadeck of Akron