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cheap contractors don't workCheap contractors don’t work.  Period.  You do get what you pay for.

Contractor Bids

Owning a home is like owning a car.  You have to take care of it.  When it’s time to do major work, it’s smart to get several bids.  However it’s almost always wrong to use the guy who’s so much cheaper.

Let’s say you need a new roof.  Your bid requests a price for 25 year rated shingles. Five contractors come and send in bids for the job.  What happens is surprising.  One bid is ridiculously high, three are pretty close and one is so much cheaper.

How do you make sense of this?  The guys in the middle are around $6,000.  There’s also a $7,100 and a $4,950.  That’s quite a spread.  You throw out the highest and talk to the lowest.  The lowest tells you that he’s cheaper because his overhead is less.  He’s a small business, not like the others with their shiny trucks and answering services.

It sounds logical, the price is a huge savings and he’s charming.  As a result, you choose the lowest bid.

Problems Surface

He starts the job and there’s debris all over your yard.  Nails, parts of the shingles he’s removing, etc.  Don’t worry, he says, I’ll rake the lawn when I’m done.  You begin to worry.  There’s a dumpster on the driveway to handle the debris so why is it all over your yard?  Next comes the Building Inspector.

Oops!  No permit.  Work stops while you get a permit.  There goes 2 weeks.  You get your permit and now you’re on the phone begging your contractor to come back and finish the job.  One month or so later he shows up, does 1/2 day’s work and vanishes.  Finally 3-4 months later it’s all done with a gift left behind.  Debris is decorating your lawn.

The dumpster leaves giving you another present.  Because there were no wood blocks under the dumpster’s feet, you now have 4 depressions on your driveway.  I’m sure you can imagine how that works out in northern NJ with our freeze and thaw cycle.  Damaging a driveway is one of the gifts you get from Mr. Cheap.

Over the course of the next few years your roof gives you a lot to talk about.  During a fall hurricane like storm, many shingles blow off or are disturbed.  Bad installation.  The new gutters and leaders don’t work right.  Gutters are not angled correctly and leaders aren’t extended.  As a result you get ice dams in winter and a damp basement.

This is not an exaggeration.  Allow me to give you a siding example.

Home Inspectors

Please don’t get I Can Pass Anything Inspections.  You know, the guy who charges less and promises to not take too much of your time………………

While I really don’t know specific inspector fees, I do know that good ones aren’t cheap.  I have an offer on a house in Glen Rock NJ.  We do the home inspection and the vinyl siding which looks good to me flunks.  I’m a great real estate agent but I’m not a home inspector or a contractor.  As a result, I can be surprised at times and I sure was this time.

A Siding Nightmare in Glen Rock NJ

Craig Sharf is a terrific home inspector.   He is more than worth whatever he charges in my opinion.  Craig failed the home’s siding.  As a result, I called in an excellent siding contractor, Pascack Siding Company.  What Mark from Pascack Siding discovered was stunning.

He confirmed Craig’s report and added more.  Four different siding materials were used including aluminum on the 2nd floor (where it’s hard to see from the ground).  The other 3 are vinyl but of different weights.  Workmanship is as Craig Sharf found – amateurish in nature.

Apparently siding left over from 4 different jobs which all looked the same was used.  As a result, siding material cost was zero.  Pretty slick but also pretty awful.

This can’t be repaired according to Mark.  The cost to remove the existing mess and re-side this colonial home is around $17,000.  Quite a shock to both buyer and seller.

Cheap Contractors Don’t Work

Cheap contractors don’t work.  As they say, when something is too good to be true, it isn’t  I tell everyone to save even a small amount every month for repairs.  Put it in a separate savings account.  You’ll be so glad you did when you need a major repair.  Consider getting a home warranty.  That mitigates your exposure to many high cost repairs.  Want information on a home warranty?  Ask me to email you a brochure.

Need help finding good contractors? Tell me what you need.



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