Beware When People Tell You What You Want To Hear

Performance Property Real Estate Question

Q: I hired a contractor to do some work on my property. I was excited when I hired him because this guy gave me by far the cheapest quote to do the work of anyone I spoke to. This guy turned out to be a liar and he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing. The job has taken much longer than he promised. What should I do differently next time? Michael, New Rochelle, NY

A: Unfortunately, almost everyone in real estate has had bad experiences with working with contractors, so don’t feel bad–it’s a learning experience that can help you grow and get wiser. The one thing you seem to have done which was smart was get multiple quotes from more than one contractor for the job. However, the cheapest quote isn’t necessarily the best one. It costs a certain amount of money to do any home repair or renovation and the contractor deserves to make money himself. If a quote from a contractor seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is. A quote that’s wildly cheaper than any other contractor may due to one of 2 following reasons: 1) the contractor is unscrupulous and just wants to get the job so he can get you to pay a downpayment and start before he claims that he needs more money from you to complete the work 2) the contractor may just be incompetent and inexperienced and may not know what is really required to complete the work you hired him to do. Ultimately, the buck stops with you. You jumped at the contractor you hired because he gave you a really cheap price–however, you’re not just optimizing price–with any repair or renovation you’re also optimizing time required to complete the job and the quality of work done. This contractor told you what you wanted to hear and you pounced. While it’s ok to placate children, adults need the truth in order to make sound decisions, so you should always beware when people tell you what you want to hear. At the very least, you should have asked this guy before you decided to hire him, HOW he was able to do the job so much cheaper than other contractors and (as with all contractors) you should have asked him exactly what the job does not include so there aren’t any last minute surprises when he thinks he’s finished and you’re left feeling taken advantage of. Thanks for your question, Michael.

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