Best way to find a good contractor?

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I have some jobs to do around my house.
Gutters
Siding
Windows/Doors
What is the best way to find good help?
I live in Central TX and I've tried calling companies and having them come out for bids but then they just dissappear.
I looked at Angie's list but at $70/year is it worth it?
Thanks in advance.
Jim
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alt.home.repair:

Your best bet is to ask your friends who they use. You can also check with your church -- they sometimes keep lists for referrals.
--
Steve B.
New Life Home Improvement
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In addition. go to your local lumber yard or hardware store. They often have business cards on display of the businesses they supply. Not quite a reference, but a starting point so you can ask about them.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I agree...the "real" building suppliers -- full-service lumber yards, plumbing/electrical/hvac distributors, etc., are a good resource for finding them. The box stores, etc., not so much...
Most counter guys (other than the HS football players on their summer weight program) will know those they deal with regularly well enough to tell you who you might want to steer away from.
--
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If you are new to town, etc. that might be difficult. But I have found that a large percentage of contractors aren't any good. Not that they are thieves, more like their notion of what is right doesn't correspond to the human version. I have had to sue two contractors that came highly recommended, and threaten three more. I expect most people would just have taken the losses, but I also sued two auto shops. Won them all. (sadly, I thought two of them were pretty good until their shoddy work surfaced years later and they claimed their written warranties didn't actually mean anything) Crazy thing is, I have actually told several of them that I have a long record of suing for improper work, and they assured me it wouldn't happen with them. One even brought my warning up in court to show what a nut I was. The judge asked him why he didn't take the warning seriously.
If you just call people off bulletin board or the phone book you will probably have even worse luck. Sorry I can't be more helpful, but it is just not a good situation.
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this newsgroup with:

I had good luck using checkbook magazine as a point of reference.
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graced

I'd subcribe but it doesn't look like it covers Central TX. :(
Excellent idea.
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sure you'd rather avoid the hassle.
I'd rather not pay Angie's list but it just maybe worth it. I was hoping there was a free reliable website but I guess you get what you pay for.
BTW: I get irritated enough to take people to court also. But I've always found the threat of a lawsuit is usually good enough. I usually compose a letter that looks very official and send it certified. If necessary, have your attorney write one for you. I specify my complaint and how I want it remedied. Contractors, however, might only find them amusing.
As a side note: It is never a good idea to be considered overly litigious. If you ever have a serious lawsuit, that could be called into question, it's not *helpful*. That's why I'd stop at the threatening letter unless a very large sum of money is involved. IMHO.
But thanks for your advice.
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ythread wrote: ...

I'm not sure...I think some people simply enjoy drama and/or don't have very good negotiating skills in resolving issues w/o confrontation. Don't know for sure here, but a general observation...

I wouldn't bet on it on these kinds of things (getting what you pay for, that is) -- you might want to google a thread here within the last month or so specifically on Angie's list. Biggest problem I see is that unless you're in an extremely large market, the chances are pretty remote there are any more than one or two at most of what you need listed and then there's no guarantee they do work in the particular part of that metro area you're in. And, as I understand it, once you pay your money, it's gone whether you get anything useful or not...
A noted in another response to Edwin, I'm in agreement on the personal and tradesman references. Unfortunately, in any location that isn't in a flatlined economic situation, good tradespeople are in short supply and can afford to be selective. It takes perseverance to track one down. ...
--
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In Toller's defense, (HA-HA, like he needs one) his claims were all upheld in court. However, having been involved in a serious lawsuit (multi-million $$), I know I would not want to reveal I've been involved in four civil suits at a deposition.

able to pay for the service as needed.

cautious. I had several over for a lighting job and most of them didn't even follow up with a bid. One was clearly not qualified at all. One that did bid said he'd do it in two week and he called me two months later. I don't like to do business with people that don't follow up on their promises.
Is it a good idea to have the work done through Homedepot or Lowes? I had a door installed through Homedepot and it went fairly smoothly.
Jim
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ythread wrote:
...

As I noted earlier, don't think that experience is anything out of the ordinary in any location unless you already have local contacts. I know of no better way than to scout out recommendations from coworkers/neighbors/church/organizations on folks they have used that satisfied. Surely you know _somebody_? :)
As for HD, etc., imo it's a crapshoot -- negatives outweigh positives from a contractual standpoint as they take full payment up front and you deal w/ them instead of the contractor so dispute resolution is troublesome at best if needed. Then there's the thing of who is actually doing the work -- there you have no control, either.
This is a small enough location we don't have them and while folks are busy, it is possible to know who is in the area that does what and can eventually get to them. Whether I would even consider it would depend on what was needing done, but I certainly would be at the end of my rope, so to speak, before they would make the radar screen, even.
--




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much with people who use contractors, I'm retired, and haven't been to church since I was 10. LOL
I was thinking of going to a lumber store and asking them.
Thanks again. :-)
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jthread wrote: ...

Well, maybe it's time... :)
Senior center, Lions/Kiwanis/whatever...
Surely you associate w/ _some_ groups of folks???

That was Edwin's suggestion and my followup some time previously. Full-line lumberyards good, HD, etc., not so much imo.
What are you wanting done? If it's wiring/electrical as opposed to construction, may have better luck at the electrical supply distributors although a large lumberyard probably can steer you where else you might ask if not directly to an electrician, say...
good luck, be persistent...
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Well that is certainly a matter of opinion. I could look up the Branch Davidians and see if they still have a group going in my area. Not much into young boys so Catholic's are out. Let's see shall I continue? ;-)

barely became eligible for AARP.

surprisingly enough. Musicians are clueless when it comes to power tools. I'm the exception.

back.
Now I want to install some gutters, siding, and a French door in my master b/r where there is a window now (HD won't do that anyway, no tearouts). There is a large construction supply warehouse and lumberyard near by. I'm going to see if they can be of help there. :)

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All these people are concerned with is "HOW CHEAP can you do it for, as I selling the house?!"
It's best if you stay away from the guys who they use!!!
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Pay attention!!! :-)
I have some jobs to do around my house.
Gutters
Siding
Windows/Doors
What is the best way to find good help?
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clipped

actual work was by two of his employees. The owner made up the bids. The work was done by two young guys who also moonlight for HD. We could not have had a better experience and they took care of some issues that we would have made a mess of if we had tried to do it ourselves. They had another contractor who undercut the baseboards/trim .. one issue we were sure of before we started talking with contractors because we wanted the tile to look like original. HD or Lowes probably work with same contractors who are available privately.
A busy contractor might have delays because they have another job that is more critical, like closing up a damaged home, so if they have a waiting list it might be a good sign.
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One suggestion I've heard (but never done myself) is to go the permit office and ask them for 3-5 names. Supposedly, they know who does good work and who doesn't.
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ythread wrote:

Via word of mouth.
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