Monday, May 01, 2006

Round Two

I have a new concrete guy lined up to redo my front steps. This was not as easy a task as I would have liked. I went through the Better Business Bureau phone book and looked at ads. Then I looked at their website, if they had one. Then I checked for complaints on the MN BBB online site. I lost faith in Angie's List long ago, but did give them minor points if they mentioned a service award from AL.

My method this time had me calling smaller contractors in the outer ring suburbs. I figured (right or wrong) that I would be a bigger job for them, therefore more likely to get a bid....and their overhead may be lower.

I put in two calls and left messages. I didn't hear back.

The next afternoon, I decided to take a walk to get some air and regroup. At some point during my walk, I started noticing the contractor name stamps on replaced city sidewalks. I got about a mile from my house and thought I had a good lead. There was one contractor stamp that consistently appeared on sidewalk replacements that were well done and crack free. Gunderson Bros. I was all excited that I had a good lead. When I got home, I looked their number up in the Yellow Pages. Ha. They were a few blocks from my house. Alas when I called, their phone had been disconnected. I even went so far as to drive by their former headquarters. Recently closed. Another dead end.

So, I put in two more calls to another couple of contractors. Low and behold, they both called back. Now we're talking. I made appointments with both for an estimate.

The first guy came out and after talking to him, I knew we were not on the same wave length. I am sure he does good work. He seemed like the kind of guy who takes pride in his work. But, he was also a "new is better" kind of guy....talking to an "old is what I want" kind of girl. His bid had me cutting into my 80 yr old steps to bring them into current code, installing a new metal handrail, and lowering my new replacement stoop by 5" from it's original height. I explained to him that I just wanted the top stoop replaced. He explained to me that his bid would include what he outlined.

I've learned in working on my old house that the skill of the contractor is just one factor. Obviously there is also price. But equally important is that they appreciate and understand what it is you want to accomplish. You want them to to understand why it is they shouldn't cut through the plaster.....that the old hex tiles are a big deal......why you want to remove the aluminum soffits even if they are only 3 yrs old......that wavy glass is cool, etc.

The second guy came out the next day. He was all business. I explained to him that I wanted to keep the existing steps and replace the oh-so-attractive wooden top stoop. I told him I also wanted to add a sidewalk to the side of my house. He listened. He told me how he would accomplish this. Whew, our visions matched. 4000 psi. 6% air. rebar. An acid wash would give my new concrete a head start to looking old(er). If he cringed when I told him I liked the look of old concrete, he hid it well and I did not see it. And his price was quite reasonable ($2000 for all).

I had my dad take a look at the contract specs. (he's a structural engineer and knows his concrete specs.) and then faxed the second guy a signed contract the next day. I'm on his calendar for the end of May. Hurrah!

Wouldn't you know it that the minute I had a new guy lined up, my first flakey (we now know overpriced) concrete guy called me wondering when I wanted him to do the work. Evidently he had been hit in the head by a 2X4 or has been running a high fever that caused total amnesia because he did not remember any of our previous conversations where he had me on his calendar and promised to call.......Sheesh.


Ron said...

That is great news.

Once it it done let us know who it was and if they did the job you were hoping for. We have a lot of concrete work to do and i'm not sure if me and my small number of(willing)friends can handle it and may have to hire someone.

StuccoHouse said...

If all goes well, I will definitely give him a plug. I'm optimistic.

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