New Fence & Tips to Hiring a Contractor

Tips & Tricks to hiring a contractor

Hiring a contractor to do work on your home is one of the most daunting tasks for a homeowner. Finding the right one who will do the job correctly and in a timely fashion is stressful for a lot of homeowners.

So since I just had a new fence installed I thought I'd share a few tips.

Especially since things could have gone smoother.

 Yes, you read that right. I have another #WeirdoMagnet to tell ya about. First I will give a few tips on hiring a Contractor. Now ya'll know I don't spout tutorials unless I feel somewhat knowledgeable about them. So I think as I have worked in the construction field since I was 17, I feel pretty strongly about a few things and want to share them.

It can be hard to hire someone to work on your home, especially if you're worried about things being done incorrectly. Isn't that every homeowners worse fear?

Tips & Tricks to hiring a contractor

 1 - Call at least 5 different companies and get quotes.
2 - Have a list of questions to ask in writing and make sure they answer all of them.
3 - Check at least 3 references and don't be afraid to ask for different ones if they hand you a pre-written list. Drive by the property if any of the work was done outside.
4 - Make sure to get copies of their license and insurance policy.
5 - Ask if any or all of the job is going to subcontracted out or done by their employees. You have a right to know.
6 - Follow your instincts. Don't just go by price or their handshake. If their salesmen wasn't completely knowledgeable and informative, then he just failed the job interview.
7 - Never and I mean never; hire the lowest contractor without asking specific questions. (See #8)
8 - Ask them how many crew members will be doing the job.

9 - How long do they anticipate to complete the job.
10 - Will their be one employee onsite with the authority to handle changes or discrepancies.
11 - This is an interview. You are in charge! This company wants your business and your money, so if they cannot fulfill their part in even getting a quote correct? Don't assume they will be able to get the work done properly either.
12 - Everything in writing. Everything. Especially if you have changes to make. (Fixing a mistake they made isn't cause enough to pay them twice)
13 - This is a binding business contract between a homeowner and a business. Expect businesslike behavior. (Courteous and clean employees who don't leave their lunch or trash lying around. Job site cleanup is what they get paid for. Depending on what type of job you're paying them to do, ask them if cleanup will be on a daily basis or at the end of the job. Leaving concrete bags in your yard for 4 days that need to be thrown away? If that's going to bother you, then be specific. Screaming men who drop "F" Bombs from one end of your home to the other is not businesslike. Don't be afraid to tell them knock it the hell off)
14 - Just like getting a different hair cut, if you can show them a picture of what you want, you'll be happier in the end.
15 - Have patience. The quote, install process never gets done in a day. Even if you pay them. It could be 2 to 6 weeks before they can start.
16 - Ninety Nine percent of the jobs you hire a Contractor for, they should never ask for more than 1/3rd of the cost of the entire job to get started. Period. And if you give them cash I will personally smack you. Pay by Check, debit or credit card.
17 - If you decide to make changes and the work has already started, make they give you a written change order or something in writing detailing any new cost, labor or material changes. And no a handshake is not a binding legal document.

18 - Don't pay your neighbors son to do the job. Yes I am sure he is a good man and does good work. If that's true, he can bid on the job just like every body else.

Tips & Tricks to hiring a contractor

 I learned at the age of 18 that most jobs for women didn't pay enough to move out on their own, let alone own a car, unless you worked construction. I went into the construction industry and stayed there. My first 2 big jobs I literally was the only woman for miles. Sitting behind a desk in construction trailer's out in the middle of nowhere. That's where I worked.

I developed a very strong personality. So when it comes to having work done on our home, I feel like I raise the bar really high and contractors better meet it. 

Or else. 
Well, last week and the week before I have been having to deal with "or else".

Tips & Tricks to hiring a contractor

 The job was going along pretty good on getting our fence installed. I was impressed at first with the quality and the work ethic. The first week we were experiencing an extremely high temperatures with an even higher heat index. 105 to be exact. The post crew worked like champs. 

Tips & Tricks to hiring a contractor

On day 5 when the job was close to being finished, I politely pointed out an un-level portion of the fence. Honestly, I didn't even notice it the night before, when Greg & I were walking the job and reviewing their work. I was busy planting new garden beds in my imagination.

Cutting to the chase, when I told "Luis" (not his name) that the pickets would have to be re-done in one 7 foot space, he gave me 4 different reasons why it could not be done. Constantly interrupting me while I politely declined to accept his excuses. 
"The post guy had screwed up the posts." 
"He has to go by the string line." 
"The ground isn't level."

Then my all time favorite:

How to install a fence

 "It's not in the contract" he said.
Now, mind you I I tried explaining myself and what needed to be done several different polite ways, even though he never let me finish one sentence. Ever.

Constantly interrupting me, saying no. Until (and I am not making this up) he laughed in my face saying "Ma'am that's not in the contract".

Giving me that look that says I have no idea what I am talking about. That's when I lost my temper. 

I immediately yelled for him to stop interrupting me and to stop blowing smoke up my you know what! That fixing a mistake is not a contractual issue, it is a quality of work issue and I want it fixed! That the other 386 feet of fencing is perfectly level at the top and this better be too.

Privacy Fence

 Things got worse after that. When Greg called for an update a few minutes later and he found out what had happened.... 

The top of his head came off. During the time I am explaining to Greg on the speakerphone what was going on, Luis knocked on the door, saying; yes he could fix it but he wouldn't be able to get it done until the next day. 

That's when Greg chimed in and say the "F**" you will! Telling Luis that he needed to apologize to me immediately for speaking to me that way and that fixing a "F'n" mistake should never be an contract issue, let alone an argument and he didn't know how he had the balls to wear a company T shirt. That men are never allowed to talk to women in the way he talked to me and that if he was going to be calling his boss in the next 30 seconds and to get his as* off our property. Right bleeping now.

 Cutting to the chase, Greg talked to the owner 2 minutes later. And within 90 minutes and entirely different crew was there, plus one more later on. They finished the job that day and fixed the section that wasn't level. All done by 5 pm that day. Go figure!

I'm surprised the neighbors haven't called to ask what was going on. I know one of them came outside upon hearing me yelling, then came back out when he heard Greg screaming at Luis via speakerphone.

I have to say between the heat, trying to get things planted, the dog and this contractor? I was emotionally drained. I didn't even touch my computer except to do the basics like check my mail.

Privacy Fence Ideas

 Enough about that jerk. I am happy with the job and now in design mode. The driveway gate below has 4 posts and I am currently debating on how high they should be. We told them not to cut them down as I have plans.

I might be installing brackets on the posts to hang flower pot's.

But I am not sure if I should just hang pots on the 2 outer posts and cut down the middle ones. Or cut down all 4 so that they're couple inches taller then the pickets and cap them with the cute copper post caps you bought. Right now the thought of more flowers to water is draining me again! I'm as red as my ancestors from being outside for weeks straight.

Privacy Fence Ideas

Pretty sure we are going to be staining the fence black, but according to Greg we should wait for the wood to dry because it's pressure treated.

Privacy Fence Ideas

Wait schmait. Doesn't he know I have plans?

Hiring a fence contractor for a new privacy fence.

Hiring a fence contractor for a new privacy fence.

 They finished installing the fence last Monday. So today Greg had some time to start moving the sidewalk over to accommodate the location of the gates.

You can see below I now get a bigger flower bed up against the house. Those pavers are now about 2 feet farther south.

Hiring a fence contractor for a new privacy fence.


The sidewalk is still a work in progress as well as some new planting beds I started. See below.

I carved out space for a potting bench and a large waterproof storage container that now houses most of our outdoor cushions.

I am going to make this bed below...

Tips and tricks on hiring a contractor

Meet this one below. So the outdoor space is almost bordered with flowers, trees and shrubs.  Lowe's had 50% off shrubs so I snagged 7 wine n roses weigela and got them planted.

Tips and tricks on hiring a contractor

If we get cooler weather I will be removing grass from these areas and getting some mulch down and then it will be weed patrol for the next few months.

I hope to be able to get back to posting at least once a week if not two. But my Niece closes on her new house Wednesday and Auntie is going to be baby sitting while she rips out the 40 years of old carpet. I took a lot of before shots so I may post about those if ya'll are interested.  

Let me know in the comment section if you are and I hope you have a great week!

Tips and tricks on hiring a contractor