Sunday, August 26, 2012

Construction business must be better locally than we thought

I am gathering estimates for a construction project.  My house has a small covered porch on the front (about 14 inches above grade) with one normal height step down to the sidewalk.  I want that porch extended with a small deck (about 5 x 6 feet) and several deep shallow steps added to make accessibility easier for my husband.  Since it's on the front of the house I can't just bang something together like I did at the kitchen door to the garage.

To my eternal embarrassment, here's a picture of what I built over a long Labor Day five years ago when we needed to make a very quick accessibility improvement for him (and I couldn't find a carpenter to take the job then either).  See, ugly as sin.  But strong.  You could practically park a truck on them.

Anyway, that's the kind of steps I want - deep but shallow (only 4" rise but 14" tread depth).  It's kind of a no brainer if you actually know how to build stuff, like an actual carpenter

I called several deck companies and one told me to my face on the phone that it was too small a job for him to do - because, you see, his business was all the way over in Collegedale (that's sarcasm, folks, Collegedale is less than 10 miles away) and he didn't want to drive that far.  The real reason, of course, being that it was a small job and he wouldn't be making his usual big bucks on it. so it was beneath him.  I would say that a day's work is a day's work and if the construction industry is a depressed as everyone is saying, that's one more day he can pay his employees.  But go figure.

Another one came out to measure and take pictures for an estimate and he wasn't here 5 minutes.  No word so far from him and I'm betting that he doesn't call me back.

I ran into the same kind of problems when I remodeled my kitchen.  I wasn't going to spend $50,000 on a kitchen redo like all the HGTV shows (not in a house like mine); it ended up costing about $17,000 for new cabinets, appliances, flooring, wallpaper, a few wiring changes, and labor.  We're not talking a show kitchen, and I didn't change the layout.  But the kitchen reno companies either wouldn't even talk to me when I described the job, wouldn't show up for the estimate appointment or never called me back after looking at the kitchen.  I ended up hiring the father in law of a guy I worked with, and it took far too long to get the job done, although it was done well.  A kitchen renovation company could have knocked it out in less than a week.  But they weren't going to make big money off me so they weren't interested.

Consider, too, that I had to wait over two months for the house painters this spring because their work was backed up.

It's hard to take the complaints from the construction sector very seriously in this town when stuff like this happens.  Other areas of the country - yes, they're hurting.  But around here the housing market didn't take the hit that it did elsewhere.  If they're turning down money I think they must be doing just fine here.


Me and My Stitches said...

I am with you! When we built our house we had nothing but trouble with each and every contractor. They never do what they say, when they say. Very frustrating! We always said that if we conducted business they way they do, we would have no business. Not sure how/why they get away with it. Good luck on your search - hope you find a dependable one!

Nancy said...

I've had similar problems. Most contractors want "new construction" rather than smaller jobs. All last year, I searched to find someone to paint the entire interior (ceilings and walls) of my 1300 sq ft house. One business would not return calls and the other did not come back when I approved his estimate. I finally got a former student to come in and paint. It's not professional, but it's done. I have other jobs that need done, but no one to do them. I am confident a handy man/woman could have a thriving business around here.

momtofatdogs said...

In light of the plight of "immigrants", it's no wonder that many small jobs are being taken over by a population that doesn't fit the main stream. My husband & I do a LOT ( I mean a LOT!!!) of home DIY stuff. but in a few years? We're not going to be physically able to do so....currently we have 2 jobs that have been accpeted by contractors. One for running wiring from the house & to our shop/shed. the 2nd is installing a sprinkler system on our property. Neither of these are small jobs. Matter of fact..EACH is over 4G each! But are they here to DO the job? No. Neither contractor. We;ll likely find someone else to do it. Probably won't even DO the sprinkler system....dang coz I wanted it too....but getting power to the shop? Yah, we need that. I seriously did NOT want to struggle with a ditch witch & run conduit that far....but it looks like we'll get someone more willing to DO the job (as in not our mainstream contractor...simply becasue Jose shows up & does the job for what he says he'll do it for...)Or I am going to be diggin some sometime this spring. I totally understand what you're going through.