I Hate Contractors - A Cautionary Tale
All of this is a round about way of saying that I'm not handy. When I need to get something involved done, I usually hire someone to do it, and right now I'm in dire need of an electrician. Why? Well this interesting little flat in which I live has in-wall electric heaters--funky little units that have a small fan for blowing heated air into a room, but we've got a problem. Our's are all recalled; I've got replacements from the manufacturer; And I need an electrician to install them. Now here's where things get interesting. It's taken me 2 months just to find 1 goddamned electrician willing to do the work.
Electrician #1 - Estimated the job, pestered me for a month while I tried to get the heaters, then wouldn't return phone calls when the heaters did finally come in
Electrician #2 - Didn't bother to call back for a week
Electrician #3 - Sent a unlicensed kid who'd never seen an in wall heater before, promised an estimate, then never called or emailed back
Electrician #4 - Refused to do an on-site estimate, tried to get me to accept a verbal estimate, and then insisted that I have the job done the next day
Electrician #5 - Estimated double the hours of any other outfit (training his partner?)
Electrician #6 - Gave me a two hour window to show up for the estimate, called 30 minutes after to say he'd be there in 30 minutes.
Electrician #7 - Never seen a in-wall heater, wouldn't give an estimate, argued about whether they wanted the job outside my window, then had a different firm (friends?) send an estimate 4 days later.
Electrician #8 - Will be here in about an hour.
So this is the "skilled labor" market? Bozos who seem to have forgotten who pays the bills. It's not like I don't waste time for each of these idiots who doesn't show up or who tries to rip me off. Is there so much work around that they can afford to blow off 6 hours of labor.
Damn I hope electrician #8 is able to get the job done.
However i've had a lot of good luck using a website called servicemagic dot com. You can put in basic info about the job etc, and then it will send your info to various contractors that they have vetted themselves, and a lot of them have reviews that you can read from other customers. They will also send you the names, and usually - you get called within a couple hours by at least one if not more. I've found a couple of my regular use people there and had good luck with them. . . Just a suggestion. :) (if #8 doesn't work out)
Ilanna... Unfortunately, electrician numbers 1, 4, and 5 were recommended by Service Magic, and in each case I had to call them. None called me after getting the job description. Maybe it's just where I live or perhaps the small size of the job.
I wonder if you're selling yourself short about being able to install the wall heater units yourself. If it was a recall, the mfr should be providing detailed installation instructions. If that's not feasible (I know I wouldn't want to mess with electrical and/or gas myself), does your bldg have a maint person who could recommend "an electrical friend"? You wouldn't believe the amt of work that these 2nd tier contractors do this way. Then, after it's done, call your power utility company & have them perform one of their N/C service checks (tell them you smell something funny if you can't get them out there otherwise). BTW, the last time I saw one of those wall heaters was when I lived coastal So Cal back in the 70's. I think they stopped using them due to fire hazard if furniture or drapes were too close. But assuming people use a modicum of intelligence, I found them to be much more energy efficient than central air units.
Oh, I also wonder if the mfr has a list of recommended installers in your area (since it was a recall)? And in your case, keep in mind it's the "no job too small" guys you want, plus make sure you are physically present while they're working. Watch everything, acting as if you know what you're looking at. It really does make them work cleaner & more accurately.
Good luck! ~~ D.K.
That was two weeks ago.
But the happy ending to this story is that Electrician #8 got the job done: Courteous, professional, cost competitive, showed me everything he was doing, and was very patient with my desire to test everything before he finished up.
He definitely gets invited back for the bigger jobs we need done!
TFWY... Good luck! I'm now in the same boat. The next job is to get a plumber in to deal with our downstairs bathroom.
and i'm not buying it - your in-laws did not say don cha know. :)
Only one shop was willing to to it at all- and they quoted me a price of $3,500. Bah.
A 220 hookup isn't all that difficult to do, I've seen it done before in 20 minutes, but I had to please the liberalette, and get a licensed guy in here.
D.K... "Hooray" indeed. Guess going through the first seven was worth it in the end.
Supergirlest... My in-laws sure-as-heck do say things like don-cha-know. I've even heard a "ya-sure" though never a "ya-sure-you-betcha".
Snave my man! What I really need is a t-shirt that says, "The only think I can fix is dinner!" The Frogette needs one that says, "What am I making for dinner? Reservations!"
UndeniableL... It is, unfortunately, the nature of the beast. Out here in Babylon by the Bay, when it comes to construction work if you tell a contractor that you want to 'pull permits' many will just refuse to work with you. For this little electrical job, I didn't need to do that...thank goodness.
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My brother is a general contractor who does work in San Mateo County. Any time someone asks me if he can take a look at whatever they need looking at, I say, "No". I already know he's got so much high-dollar work being thrown at him that he can't be bothered with small jobs.
Lizzy... The last time we did any work that required a general contractor, the first one we hired had a fit and abandoned the job on the first day, in the middle of tearing down a ceiling.
PT...if only I'd known! So, could your brother come and take a look at this small job I've got? ;-)
You brought back some great memories for me of a family friend who always said don-cha-know. And here I always thought it was a midwestern thing.
Electric is easy. You need to know three things: hot, neutral, ground. Plumbing, now that's hard. When I tighten a screw on electric, I tighten it down until it hits bottom. When I do it on plumbing, I have to be careful not too tighten it all the way a lot of the time.
DBK... It's not just lack of will but lack of time--got too many other projects that take up my time.
DBK: I think that you are being quite overly simplistic. I'll admit that most electrical work is not par with astrophysics, but there are more than three things you need to know. Our code book alone is almost 800 pages long. This is just the code, not the physical installation methods, that takes years to master. Your ignorance about the complexities and danger of electricity may be bliss in your mind, but how about the person that purchases your fire trap when you sell it. Although plumbing has it's own set of problems if done improperly, I can assure you that I have never heard of someone drowning in the middle of the night because of DIY plumbing work. Many fires (and deaths) have occurred because of both DIY and improperly installed "professional" electrical work.
Stick to gardening!
Cavanagh Electric Inc
In the New York area