In the aftermath of Isabel, the saga continues

I have written before that we are responsible for the condition we find ourselves in and this one is a classic.

Our problem came about from relying on someone to perform, before we had real evidence of his track record. Our failure to observe basic rules for dealing with contractors has come back to bite us.

Living in the Virginia countryside does have its drawbacks. One of these is the propensity for contractors to fail to show up on time or even answer their phones. After two years of observing this behavior, I feel it is the result of their being overbooked and unaware of the consequences of being disorganized.

We have mostly small contractors out here and they are in great demand because of the growth in the area. As a result, many contractors seem to bite off more than they can chew. They mean well, but they don’t deliver as expected.

We have had more than one contractor show up to estimate a job and then disappear without a trace. Many more will not return phone calls. I don’t think they realize what will happen to them when demand from newcomers slackens. These people develop a bad reputation quickly out here in the country because we rely on personal referrals to select them. Sometimes however, a contractor can keep a low enough profile that he does not show up on the neighborhood gossip line.

We had been patiently waiting since September 18 for our contractor to show up and replace the roof damaged by hurricane Isabel. (The tree has been removed and the roof has a temporary patch.) With the rain and snow we have been having, there was some justification for his failure to show, but he supposedly had only one job to finish before starting ours.

After 90 days of excuses, it became evident that we were not being given the entire story. This contractor’s claim of replacing roofs in just a few days was not supported by his deeds. We started asking around and found from at least two sources that this contractor had a reputation for not finishing jobs promptly. We immediately removed ourselves from his list of potential customers and we will write up the insurance adjustor who recommended him, as this adjustor said he’d worked with this contractor for 10 years.

We thought we had exercised due diligence in selecting him, but we failed to keep our attention on his progress, and we failed to ask for customer references we could call. We had asked for references from other contractors, but we dropped the ball on this one after getting a referral from the adjustor.

So, here we are 90 days later getting ready to engage a new contractor. This time, we plan to stay closely involved. We have our first meeting Thursday. I’m sure I will have something interesting to report.

Those of you who have solved this problem already are invited to chime in with advice anytime.

More later…

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