CONTRACTORS: Do they target women or do they pull the same ruses on men?

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Do contractors bluff their way into men's lives in the same fashion that they do women?
Or, are men smarter than women on projects?
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I think women are sometimes hesitant to keep asking questions until they understand what they're paying for. I was never totally knowledgeable about everything I've paid for (major car repairs, furnace/AC, electrical), but one of my criteria for hiring people has always been to insist on someone who is willing and able to answer questions.
You can often stack the odds in your favor by getting referrals from other people who've been happy with a particular contractor. If you can't find friends who've used a certain type of service, do what someone did in a large office where I used to work: She put notes on the mirrors in the men's & women's bathrooms, saying she was looking for a good electrician. The place was too big and too busy for her to walk around checking with everyone.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

I remember asking specifically how long the job would take (electrical svc panel) and he said "I don't know." He actually refused to give an estimate on labor. We all know that this job should take 2-3 hrs. He then said about the same as parts (labor).
That is $333 per hour.
Does it say stupid on my forehead? Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.
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That's why it's good to get referrals. Sometimes, there really IS no way of knowing how long something will take. But, at least you can know ahead of time that the person you're hiring isn't an asshole. My ex-wife just had a new wire run from the house to the free standing garage. Looks like it was done beautifully, based on the parts that are visible. I asked her how much it cost. She said she hadn't gotten the bill yet! I was only partially surprised at the idea of working this way, but the electrician is a guy who did some work for us in the past, and whose prices were VERY reasonable. So....there's the other side.
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There are a few contractors that you can trust to work like that. I happen to have a plumber and an electrician that we use at work. I just tell them what I want and they do the job at reasonable cost. I may ask for a number for budgeting a big job, but it is never set in stone. These guys have been working with us for about 15 years. I'd not do it with anyone I don't have any experience with.
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wrote in message

Send me the plumber! I thought I had a good one, but he's lost his mind recently.
In my old house, the kitchen was right above the laundry room, and the old iron pipes were set up like this:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v21/Bascoe/image5.gif
They were constantly clogging, and some were installed low enough to kill anyone taller than 5'10". The plumber was already at the house doing a warranty repair on my water heater, so I asked him how much to replace all the iron with PVC, and re-route a couple of them. He said something like $450. I said "Wanna do it right now?" Two hours later, done.
Three years later, new (used) house: Same basic arrangement. I called the same plumber, who lives 5 minutes away. He takes a look and says $1500 to $1800! I said I understood that the job wasn't absolutely identical, but why THAT much more? He says "I was already at your other house. No travel charges. And, I don't recall doing it that cheap". I save bills. I went and got it and showed it to him. Didn't matter. I said "No thanks".
Travel charges - I could charter a private jet cheaper for a short business trip.
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I have a general contractor/carpenter like that, although we do set up a specific contract for big jobs. And have set aside certain jobs as cost plus, where he and I anticipate possible issues on opening up. Right now he's setting up some new windows - on the older addition we'll be looking for possible carpenter ant damage, and will decide if some framing wood replacement will need to happen or not. If not, the price is that already set. If so, it will be more depending on what we find. There has to be some decent way to handle that kind of thing, and it can't all be set before the walls are opened up.
I also have an electrician that I just tell him what I want. I even have to chase him to bill me sometimes... he knows when he gets to me I'll pay. Found him through that contractor.
After some time in this area, as a homeowner I've built up some experience, and follow the gambler's creed - knowing when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em. Keeping the good cards, so to speak.
The only plumber I've found so far that I really trust is a big outfit that is a little pricey and gives written estimates before any work; so I'm doing that. The work is always good though. Maybe down the road I'll find a different arrangement and save some bucks.
So, just do the best you can do with what you find, and recognize and keep the good cards. If you think they're all *bad*, that will never happen.
If I don't have somewhere to start on a big job, like when I had the house painted, the driveway repaved, and some foundation work, I got several estimates. It's not just to compare the prices (and you dont' necessarily want the lowest! But the highest may be someone on the take or just trying to price themselves out the of job), it's also to get a read on what kind of person this is. Kind of like a job interview. If he (or she, had a married set of masons!) seems on top of things, and communicates well answering questions and offers reasonable opinions and ideas, doesn't push or try to "sell" me, it's probably a good card. I've had pretty good luck with that approach.
What part do *I* do? I value my time, so I do the part that I like only, that I need to do often enough to actually accumalate some skill and knowledge. That's the painting/staining and prep and related stuff. Yes, even running a paintbrush or roller up and down takes a feeling for the task and some skill. I wouldn't do my own tiling, although I find the task attractive. I just don't do it enough, and it's too permanent, for me not to want a pro to do it. Maybe when I'm retired and have had a chance to do some standalone projects like table tops or accent walls.
BTW, I'm also a single woman.
Banty
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If you're anywhere near Rochester NY, I know an auto repair shop you'd love. They used to be 10 minutes away, but they moved to be closer to where the 3 guys live. Now, they're 35 minutes away. They lost pretty much NO customers. People drive that distance even just for an oil change.
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Oh funny, I *did* live there, but it's too late - I used to work for the Great Yellow Father; now I've moved and work for the Big Blue.
Banty
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Please let me know, I'm in Charlotte (pronounced char- LOTTE, so you know I'm really from Kodak city/flour city/flower city.
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AutoWorks of Mendon 624-4457 Joe Ricci (service writer, customer harassment specialist, mechanic when the phone's not distracting him) Scot (with one "T") - mechanic Bruce - mechanic
Believe me when I tell you it's worth the trip out there, especially if your car's reaching the age when you're beginning to expect mysteries, and you want someone who can spot problems ahead of time & help you budget for the repairs. These guys have no problem with customers who want to be in the work area so they can see what's being done. They're all good teachers. You'll learn a lot about your car, if you're interested. They are all comedians, and the customers are the unwitting straight men. It's something you have to get used to.
Tell Joe you were recommended by the pain-in-the-ass customer with the black Toyota pickup, formerly a white Taurus. He'll know who.
Take 104 to 590 south, get off the 2nd Monroe exit, and then a right turn on Clover. I can't quite explain the rest - you'll need a map. From the Monroe-Clover intersection, it's 10 minutes away if you don't run into too many school buses or construction vehicles.
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Thanks for the info. I do have a car getting up there in mileage. Too bad they aren't a bit closer, but Mendon isn't too far. My sister used to live way out in Mendon in the middle of nowhere. LOL.
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And folks, if you think that's a funny pronounciation, wait till you hear how they pronounce "Chili, New York". :)
Banty
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....and Lima.
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says...

How else would you pronounce it? ;-)

How about Calais? ;-)
--
Keith

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"MRS. CLEAN" wrote:

It can certainly take longer than 2-3 hours depending on the conditions and whether it's one electrician working or two. That said I can't think of many conditions that would make it impossible to give a reasonable time estimate.
I know working by myself at a modest pace and periodically resting when my carpal tunnel was making my hands numb, it took me about 6 hours to complete my panel replacement under decent working conditions.
Pete C.
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MRS. CLEAN wrote:

I can't tell about the forehead from here. Post a picture. ;)
The "we all know" part doesn't compute. Job conditions and electrician speed vary greatly. If you take your car in for service they have a sign that reads that they'll compute it hourly or by the book rate. Service panel changes are close to a book rate around this area. If your electrician knows that everybody and his brother electrician get $1500 for a service panel (or whatever), then there's not a big incentive for him to knock the price down. They're running a business, right?
Some contractor's are loathe to estimate hours on something they're bidding as a lump sum because other people, you for example, might use those numbers against them in an effort to chisel them down.
Find a contractor you can trust, try not to be too much of a pain in the ass, and move on to the next windmill.
R
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says...

This is the A-number one thing that works for me - someone who I can communicate with. Someone who has some enthusiasm about what he's doing is a plus.

"We all know" ...what?
Maybe he honestly didn't know - he may find he needs to add circuits, etc., if he finds poor work there before him.
Or maybe he's a jerk.
Either way, thank him, jot some notes on the estimate and keep it with the written estimate, then call two more electricians.
Maybe he's judged you as a PITA and has given the price he feels makes it worthwhile. Or not. You might be the sweetest lady in the world.
You just have to do some groundwork when you hire someone. Just like any other business or person that hires work out or obtains employees. Dunno how you expect to get around that. Contractors are humans, not plug-compatible fixit unitoids.
Banty
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I've met a few carpenters who were great mathematicians. It irks me when I hear people say "Some kids aren't college material - they end up in the trades". Excuse me? Like being a master carpenter is 3 steps below a stockbroker?

My previous house was a perfect example of endless unknowns. The first electrical mods I made were in the garage, where I found modern wire. So, I figured "OK....next, put a dimmer in the dining room - 20 minutes". Not. The rest of the house had this ancient wire whose insulation crumbled when it was exposed the light of day after removing the switch covers. Dimmer: 2 hours.
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MRS. CLEAN wrote:

I don't see the point in stereotyping contractors anymore than stereotyping women.
R
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