This Ain’t No HGTV

Anne’s Review:  Your blog needs ‘no renovations’. Take heart—there’s a Prince or Princess Worksalot out there somewhere! 

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Let it all out

People tend to hate rejection.  It makes us feel like we are “less than” that which doesn’t get rejected.  We wonder if we somehow gave offence, had bad breath, didn’t measure up to whatever we were expected to be.  We always lurch head first into examining our own faults.  Our immediate feelings are believing the failure is ours and not our rejecter’s.  Later, our wounds lead to anger and we begin to backtrack into thinking that guy’s a dick, or is struggling with mental illness, or is a sociopath, eventually landing on the thought that maybe now is not a good time to connect with this person.  Reasons unknown, I’ll go with that last one if I’m feeling generous.  But, I’m not in that place right now.

In February we welcomed two strangers into our home (fully masked) in the name of home improvement.  They were genuinely nice ladies who asked a lot of questions, made a lot of comments and assured us this was a job their company could handle.  They were wrong.  After much research, checking out the local contractors, getting recommendations and giving our carefully chosen company representatives an intimate tour of our house, we were informed a month later they were not interested. 

McMansion

Ouch.  We were so stunned by this announcement; we wasted another month licking our wounds before we had the courage to start the scouting process all over again.   This is the atmosphere in which we find ourselves floundering about, rejected, and once again looking for a competent licensed professional to guide us through the process of updating our abode.  Asheville is being built as we speak.  Big money is moving here from nearby cities and houses are going up or being renovated at an unprecedented rate.  Every contractor is busy and most wish to maximize their profits by selecting the biggest and most rewarding projects available.  We, with our desired tiny addition to our tiny house, are penny ante pests pecking around in this high-stakes game.  Many of the best companies, with impeccable credentials, won’t be available until it all slows down.  We don’t want to wait that long.

I went back to my computer, asking for recommendations from our neighbors (that’s how we found the first well-researched choice) and from others in the area.  A few people sent us names.  We called our realtor, who gave us some suggestions, which we began to look at through the discerning homeowner lens.  Little did I realize from my first easy search; it is not a simple task to find the best or even second or third best contractor who will take on our project. 

We know the rules:  1) Ask around. Get referrals from people you know.  2)  Look up the reputation of any name you get through the Better Business Bureau website or Build Zoom or any other reputable (i.e., not influenced by $) rating site.  3)  Make sure they have a contractor’s license in your state.  4)  Make sure they have insurance.  5)  Get at least 3 quotes!

It's never good

The chosen company that came out in February charged for their estimate.  They have a very good reputation, so they are in a position to do so.  We agreed to it, that’s how confident we felt.  Since we got no estimate from them, we were off the hook.  Once the notice came that they would not do this job, I began to worry about anyone else without such a stellar track record asking for money just for the estimate.   Since we want to get three quotes for the work to be done, we henceforth refuse to pay for an estimate. 

 I’ve added a few of my own rules just to keep myself grounded and ready for anything: 6)  Be prepared for rejection.  7)  Allow for frustration and waiting.  8)  Dogged persistence is the only way this project will get done.

So, armed with a few contractors’ names, I started my research on the computer.  What a quagmire one is expected to wade through in the name of legit commerce.  We assumed the names given by the realtor were well-known to her and monitored for competence and reliability.  Hmmm.  One contractor’s name did not match with the name on file for the company owner on Build Zoom and another had a C rating from the BBB.  Only one name was high on approval by the BBB site, but had a scathing review by one of their customers. Other referrals had no online profile, rating or even a website.  There was no way to find them, or what customers thought about them at all.

Roll of the dice!

Welcome to Build Zoom.   You can look up a company name on Build Zoom and see if they have a licensed contractor and get a rating…if they are listed with Build Zoom.  Or you can play the home builders’ equivalent of The Dating Game.  Simply type in what you want done, and Build Zoom will match you up with three contestants.  You get to ask probing questions, receive dubious estimates and then choose the most appropriate one.  Your dream contractor will come to your house and then call you a month later saying this just isn’t working out for them.  You’re not as attractive as you lead them to believe.  As they say, you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find Prince Charming.  At this point I’d settle for Sir Lacksalot, who took an online construction course at the local community college. 

I don’t know what the process is for getting your home improvement project done on HGTV.  It seems like some nice people come to your house, tear it apart and then put it back together again in a much nicer, more functional way.  Most of the homeowners are over-the-moon happy because they didn’t have to pull their hair out finding a builder.  Of course, they may be contractually obligated to act happy with their results.  I think they are genuinely delighted since they didn’t have to worry about getting ripped off or argue with builders on a deadline or be told that the job just wasn’t profitable enough to take on.  I may start applying this week.  I need to find a contractor who WANTS to come and improve my home in the most beautiful, competent way ever.  You never know!

Dream Dojo

Our current strategy is to dangle future projects in the face of anyone willing to come out and look over our plans.  I am calling our addition to the house Phase I, yet throwing in a bathroom remodel and kitchen update to sweeten the pot.  Phase II is not as sexy, as it involves lighting fixtures, electrical upgrades and “doing something” with the front porch.  Phase III, officially does not exist yet, but I would love to build up our so-called garage with a second floor to be used as a guest room/yoga studio/dojo.  We can always mention the possibility of an attic renovation, as a probable Phase IV.   By the time we spend all that money, we could probably have purchased an entirely new house.  There are a host of other headaches involved with house buying and moving, but I am ready to get my name and address in the queue for Love It or List It, or any new show up for grabs, though I’m not so sure I can take any more rejection.  Perhaps I’ll just stick with dogged persistence and see how it goes from there.

Hope is happening,

Cheryl aka Hobbit House Expansion Committee

Guest Editor Anne has recently been spotted out and about the town.  She is a member of Asheville Women’s Writers Cooperative, which we hope will be able to meet in person at some lovely outdoor spot, under the trees, where there aren’t any noisy renovations going on. 

10 Comments

  1. I don’t envy you this task. Tough time for renovations but I’m sure you will love the results. Good luck.

    • Of course, we are in that group that wanted to do this last year, but put it off. Now we are all enthusiastically
      trying to get it done!

  2. oy-
    nasty task!! I got a guy to do our floors “quickly” —my huge mistake. He did not float before laying yikes and they are all cracking. yeah – I didn’t know anything about tile floors and believed he knew what to do.
    my advice-know what needs to be done before they start!
    good luck!! (some handymen/women) are really good resources for finding good contractors.

    • It’s all such fun!! NOT. I hope you find a better flooring person. We miss our lovely bamboo floors back in Texas, but hope to put some into the new addition.

  3. Thank you for the great laugh you gave me, I needed it after a root canal today!!
    Yes home construction is a bitch , you need to know ( a LOT) about what you need doing, makes you wonder if you could do it yourselves!!

    • Ouch on the root canal! I don’t think I would ever try any DIY home improvements. Changing a lightbulb is about as handy as we get!

  4. I would be happy to look around

  5. Although I’m a renter, I think your comments about rejection apply in other areas of life. When we feel rejected, we either feel bad about ourselves or judge the other persons motives in the worst possible ways. In most cases, however, these things are nobody’s fault. Nobody is a loser. Nobody is a black hearted villain.

    • I agree. I usually just need a little time to smooth out the feathers and move on! Thanks for your input and for reading the blog!

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