What you are thinking about remodeling your house and you live in Carlsbad. Let me give you some advice about some local contractors and some of the people involved. I used a company called Service Magic to find a local heating and air conditioning contractor. All I had to do was go on the internet , type in some information about my self and what I wanted to have done to my home. This didn't seem that bad of a idea at the time. But look what I found out.
I went to their web site, filled in my information and with in minutes I had received the names of at least 4 contractors. Wow this is neat. I didn't even get to start calling any of them when my phone rang. It was one of the contractors secretaries. She introduced herself and asked what would be a good time for someone to come out to look at the work I wanted done.
I was surprised at the speed things were taking place but in a way glad that I had a reputable contractor from one of the largest construction referral services on the internet. I told her 10:00 would be fine. I got a call shortly after that from one of the other companies. He wanted to meet me that mourning at 8:00 if it was Ok with me. I told him of course, let's do this. Then the next one called and I thought great you can come at 1:00. Well you guessed it the next one was coming over at 2:30.
The first contractor showed up as scheduled at 8:00. We talked about what I wanted done and he whips out his note book and starts figuring out a price. This took place around 15 minutes into the meeting. This guys good I thought. Being a General Contractor in Carlsbad myself, for a job like this I would go back to my office and figure out a price and then double check my figures for a accurate estimate. It took this guy less than 5 minutes to create a proposal of around 10,700 dollars for every thing.
Well I was thinking to myself, the job should be around 7,000 dollars but what do I know about construction. I informed him that I would think about it and that I was going to meet with a couple of other contractors that day. He ask me who the other contractors were. I proceeded to tell him that I probably shouldn't tell him who they were. Well your not going to believe this. He put on his physic hat and told me who was coming over. The only thing he didn't know was what time they where coming over.
Oh I forgot to mention before he left he told me he would knock ten percent off the job if I signed the contract right now. I pretended like I was excited just to see his reaction. He looked at me like he had won the gold metal in sales. I told him thanks but I bet your new offer with the ten percent discount will be good for the next few day. Right I asked. He wasn't looking that excited any more as he replied with a Yes it will be good for a while. I thanked him and he went on his way.
My 10:00 never showed but his secretary gave me the old, " He had to go do a emergency job and could he reschedule tomorrow at the same time. I said that would be fine. As a contractor myself I have always put the work I had to do first and foremost.
About 12:30 I get a call from my next heating and air conditioning contractor. He is running late but will be there at 1:30. I appreciate the call and I will see you then. The only problem now is that I have another contractor coming at 2:30. That give the next contractor less than one hour before the next guy shows up. I never liked going over to someone's house and running into another remodeling contractor.
The next contractor was very informative and knew his stuff. I listened and learned. He told me he was going to have to go back to his office and would have a price back in the mourning. Great I told him as I hurried him out the door.
The last contractor of the day shows up and wants to know whose been over to the house, was it these guys or those guys. I told him I wasn't going to tell him who was over. Now this guy was a salesman. He did a little more probing before he let me in on the fact that his company doesn't do complete home installations. He made up some story that his company only replaces the forced air units. I could tell he didn't want to do the job once he found out I knew what I was talking about. So I said my good byes to Mr. Salesman.
The bad part about him was latter on that week his company sent us some mailers. The kind that doesn't have your name on it and everyone in the neighborhood get's one. I couldn't believe my eyes when I started to read this letter. It said we would be glad to give you an estimate on all your heating and air conditioning needs or services. " We Do Complete Installs". I told my wife we could have used this a few weeks ago. Then I recognized the name of the company and now knew that the salesman had lied to me for sure.
That night I started to think about what was going on here it seemed like I was being set up. Everyone knew what was going on but me. It seemed clear to me that these people knew each other.
Well as time went on we ended up hiring the first guy that came over. He seemed to have the best product at the most reasonable price. His company also did a great job. Keep one thing in mind here out of five contractors that I gave the opportunity to bid the job. Only three showed up and from them I only got two bids. Why didn't I get more bids? Quite frankly I was to busy working at the time and of course the other two guys were always going to show up and that kind of strung me along. My mistake.
Here's the kicker to all of this. Service Magic calls me up one day to tell me they would like to start sending me construction leads as a General Contractor.
I listened to what they had to say and was almost ready to sign up with them again. That's right, I was signed up with them when they first started until they changed the rules on me. The salesman that originally contacted me said if I paid them the 100 dollar sign up fee they would let me pick what jobs I wanted to do. That lasted about 5 months before I noticed that they were not sending me siding referrals to pick from. I called them up only to talk to someone who didn't understand the State Of California Contractors Licensing Board.
Well I wasn't about to reinvent the wheel. I simply told them that I should a least get my money back, right. They said they would look into it further as I never heard from them again about my 100 dollars. Well things have changed at Service Magic since I was with them when they started.
As a home owner you don't think you are paying Service Magic because all you do is fill out a simple form giving some information about yourself.
I found out that Service Magic sent all four of these contractors my original information. Each contractor then had to pay 55 dollars each to Service Magic for a total of 220 dollars. All I have to say is how are they getting away with charging this much money for sending a out a simple referral to these contractors.
The contractor unfortunately passes this expense on to his customers. You as the home owners end up paying these fees as a cost of doing business with them. Some contractors think this is a great way of doing business but you might think differently in the future if you start paying over 100 dollars for a simple construction referral.
Greg Vanden Berge has been in the home building and remodeling business for over 30 years. With this knowledge he has created a few websites that provide useful information for home owners as well as contractors. His main goal is to educate professionals in the home related businesses, dealing with problems that can easily be avoided with just a little bit of information.
His website http://gregvan.com provides all kinds of answers to remodeling and new house building issues that could create major damage as well as possible damage to your pocket book.
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