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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hiring a contractor - why I screwed myself

I had a contractor out last week familiar with old house restoration come look at the farmhouse.  He had a multi-page article in our local magazine in his restoration of a century old craftsman, so would understand how to fix all the funkies in my old house.... keeping its integrity without Home Depotizing it. 
This is how in the last four years I have screwed myself.  By doing (what seems like) four years of research and how-to classes and online information and books, by hiring my own labor when things get over my head (sometimes it doesn't take much!), by shopping craigslist and all the re-use stores... well, that basically makes me a cheapskate.  Since I can find most anything I need dirt cheap, I can't see paying someone $8K to replace the siding on my leaking exterior wall (and weatherproof, and seal, and replace windows).  One wall.  One wall of six.  Because I know with a bit of hunting I could find leftover cedar siding from someone's project for a couple hundred. I could get those windows for $700.   And if I had the experience to be able to know and explain how to fix whatever weirdness (mold? rot?) is under that siding... I could have Javier do it for $300. 
See the knowledgable contractor knows what to do.  I don't.  But it is not worth the $7K difference for me to hire him.  And that is why I screwed myself.  I can't get someone in who really knows his old house stuff because I know I can do it less expensively.  I already figured out if This Old House was going to re-do my house, I wouldn't want them, since I watch what they put in and think "Holy crap, they paid full retail for that gas stove/old barnwood flooring, patio flagstone, etc etc. that they could have got for 1/5 price on craigslist?"  Cheap. Skate. 
I still haven't had that architect out that I won at Wilder's school auction.  At least I don't have to fret about that money!


Linda said...

I wound up hiring a painting company to do the interior of a house I own (inherited) so I could get it re-rented quickly. Pre brain injury I would have been up nights and gotten it done just as fast as they did. .. and I would have been almost 5,000 richer. Can you hear the deep resentment in my typing?? lol That was this past august.

Karen Anne said...

Speak to's been almost a month. Hope things are okay.

Blue Shoe Farm said...

Hey Karen Anne,
I am here... just not posting (obviously!!) I will start typing one of these days.
Take care, Andrea

Sharon @ Laurelhurst Craftsman said...

You might try hiring someone who will work by the hour--some sort of handyman type. They'll usually use your materials and it will give you an opportunity to see if they're good workers. If not, don't hire them again.

We had a couple of folks we hired by-the-hour to help us out. It worked out pretty well. As we fell behind on our projects, we brought in more labor to finish on schedule.

Feathers said...

Wait a min. You "won" an architect? Then that could be the free opinion I was telling you to get for the structural beams issue! Yeah I hear your pain. It is the same pain in my flipping back because I was too cheap to hire someone to lay the stone for my patio because I do actually know how to do it. I'm beginning to think it might have been worth the money so that I could have some time for other projects.

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