Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On contractors and vague estimates

Hey Bloggers,

Our re landscaping project is finally finished. Now on to other projects. Got the re finishing estimate for the living room oak floors today and Mark and Francie are scouting out tiles for the rest of the flooring. Hopefully Shawn will have the new glass cabinet doors for the kitchen done soon and the window treatment that had to be reordered will be ready since we have no privacy or light blocking capability over the bed.

We were thinking of creating a laundry room at the end of our kitchen which is pictured above. You can see that there are two closets on the far end. They are divided inside by an unnecessary wall. The small closet on the left contains a water heater and a laundry tub, and has a window to the side yard. The larger closet on the right is either a very large walk in pantry or a possible wine cellar. Both closets have Mexican tiled floors. Together, they would make a very adequate laundry room. As you can also see in the picture, the kitchen features around thirteen feet of storage along the left wall next to the table. The walk in pantry isn't really needed, although I've been able to fill it with stuff and the rats obviously like it.

We thought we'd enlarge the opening to the kitchen, remove the divider wall, move the laundry tub, create new shelving over the newly installed washer and dryer (which are currently in the garage) and install a storage area for cleaning materials, vacuum etc. Put in folding or pocket doors. I got an estimate from a contractor recommended by a professional friend last Thursday for $5500.00 to $6000.00, including repairing damage to the tiles. Sounded pretty reasonable so I said," Go for it." Then he called back and asked if I wanted him to pull a permit for the work. Since my town can be pretty picky (remember my a/c adventure?) I said it was probably a good idea. I asked him how much that would cost and he said he didn't know off hand but would talk to the city on Monday. He said it was a percentage of the job estimate. Yesterday, he called and said the permit would add $1300.00 to the cost of the job. Then, he amended his earlier estimate to total around $8000.00 if there are no further complications. I choked and said, "Let me think about it and I'll call you back tomorrow."

Got my calculator and realized the permit was 15% of the total cost! Highway robbery I thought. Too much for moving a washer and a dryer inside from the garage and removing a wall, as well as moving a little plumbing around a bit. So, I decided it was probably a no go. I called the contractor back this morning and said, "I'm still shocked that the city wants 15% of the cost of a project to give permission to do it." And Mr. Contractor said, "Oh, it isn't the city that wants $1300.00 more. The permit is $300.00. It's to compensate me for the extra work." What extra work you wonder? Getting someone to draw up a plan to show the city for the permit and for gasoline and time driving around to take it to the city and stuff. $1300.00? For that? As a contractor he can't draw plans? Huummmn.

Either the guy isn't as experienced as I'd been told 'cause he should have known the rules and regs and included the cost in the original estimate or he just wanted to wheedle some extra bucks out of someone he may have perceived as an easy mark. Anyway, I said, "No." Ta ta for now and all that.

Actually, my available budget was two thousand more than what he asked in the end, but the way he handled the estimate set off warning bells in my head. I'm glad I listened to the bells. For now, to save 8k, I will brave washing in a garage with spiders lurking about.

Live long and prosper.

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