Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ContractorFest 2010

As of yesterday, I'd lined up 3 driveway guys and a plumber to come bid the driveway and the continuing plumbing issues respectively.

And now, the results:

Let's get the plumber out of the way.  He had a cheap cheap solution to the problem, although he recommended coming back next week and running further tests to diagnose if there's anything else wrong he can fix.  I like the cheap cheap solution, and the idea of further testing.  We'll call him back after Thanksgiving.

On to the driveway, then.  I've got a concrete driveway with a few ribbons of bricks running across.  Tree roots are pushing up one of the brick ribbons, and causing cracks in the concrete.  I need folks to bid both:  (a) repairing the brick ribbon; (b) replacing the whole damn driveway.

Contractor One:  Came on time.  Took a zillion measurements.  Will provide a bid for replacing the brick ribbon and another bid for replacing the driveway (brick ribbons included).  He agreed that replacing the brick ribbon wouldn't really solve the problem but is more of a stopgap measure.  The problem is that picking up the bricks themselves won't get at the tree roots -- we'd have to demolish quite a bit of the driveway to get to the roots and cut them back.  If he replaces the driveway, he'd be able to get at the roots.  The full replacment bid will be for replacing the driveway with brick ribbons (pretty much to the same pattern as I have now) -- and will also include replacing all the bricks around the edge of the driveway (which are on their sides, and form a 1/2-brick high retaining wall for the landscaping).  He measured every inch of this thing, and will get a bid to me over the weekend.

Contractor Two:  I had doubts about Contractor Two to begin with, as he was the only one who didn't respond to my initial email within 24 hours.  When he finally did respond, he asked for both my address and directions to my house -- which seemed a little odd as I generally expect contractors to know how to use google maps by now.  Then, this morning, he emailed again, asking for my phone number.  He called to discuss the job with me and said, in so many words, that he wouldn't bid replacing the bricks and didn't want me wasting his time having him out here unless I was prepared to pay for an entire new driveway.  I told him that whether I replaced the driveway would depend on the bids.  He said (sight-unseen) that your regular all-American standard driveway would run at least $6000 to replace (making me think that mine would cost more, as it curves 90 degrees to make it to the garage) and again wanted me to commit to spending that much before he came out.  I told him (again) that replacement was definitely a viable option, but I wouldn't make a decision until I got all the bids.  He told me that he'd come out by 1:00 today and would call before coming -- and that if he doesn't call, he's not coming.  It's now 1:30.  Clearly, he doesn't want this job.

Contractor Three:  Showed up early.  Told me honestly that he wouldn't bid replacing the bricks alone because it's too small a job and he'd want way too much money for it.  Suggested I get a handyman if I want to go that route.  Told me the most economical replacement solution would be to replace the driveway with colored concrete (no bricks) and that he'd score the concrete in a diamond pattern.  When I asked about the brick border, he said he'd leave it, and would tidy it up for me.  Took two measurements, whipped out a calculator, and handed me a written estimate for $5900.  (Said that if he did the brickwork, it would go up to about $8000.  Like I'm going to pay an extra two grand for bricks.)

I think the lesson to be learned here is that Contractor Two is a jerk.  It's looking pretty likely that either Contractor One or Contractor Three is going to get the job ... and for the ballpark $6000 figure that Contractor Two wanted me to agree upon before deigning to come out and give me an estimate.  There's a lesson here someplace.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Yes, Contractor Two would definitely be out. I think I'd check to see if there are any good reviews or referrals or whatever on One and Three, but if One's numbers are good, I'd go with him.