Four Lessons I Learned From Trying to Hire a Contractor

October 1, 2022

So I have owned the Clendenin house for about two months now, and I’ve already started asking contractors for bids. I’ve mostly been finding contractors by asking for referrals in the local FB group, and while this has worked better than most of the ideas I listed in this post, it has still been a learning experience.

Here are a few things I learned.

1, Half of the contractors will not call you back

You should get at least 3 or 4 bids for any work you’re going to have done, which means you need to contact at least 8 contractors.

I am not joking.

Of the first 5 plumbing contractors I contacted, exactly zero responded. Of the second set of four, 3 responded and eventually stopped by to take a look so they could give me an estimate. (I actually only got an estimate from one plumbing contractor.)

And of the 7 contractors I contacted about remodeling the bedrooms, only 2 gave me an estimate.

2, Don’t skip work for an appointment with a contractor

I drove out to Clendenin for my appointment with the first plumber who agreed to come by. They blew me off, costing me 10 hours of driving time and close to 100 in gas. (Then they missed their second appointment.)

This is not a mistake I made twice; all of the appointments with other contractors were conducted over the phone.

3, Contractors might not get back to you for weeks or months

As of last week I have had 16 contractors visit the Clendenin House to give me an estimate on work. I have so far received estimates from exactly three of them. I have been waiting at least a couple weeks on each estimate, and while they might arrive at some point, I do not know when.

Heck, one contractor didn’t even send someone out for an estimate until nearly 2 weeks after I contacted them, and of all the contractors move at a similar pace then I might not get estimates for a month or more.

4, Some bids will cover way more work than requested

The one plumbing bid I have gotten so far was both vague and covered the full replacement of both water and sewer lines for both units. It was also just a figure, with no explanation of why the work needed to be done.

I am told the quoted price was reasonable, but it was far more work than I asked for. It was also more than I can afford, so I turned it down. (Heck, I don’t even know if the work actually needed to be done.)

P.S. This post is a lot shorter than I intended. That is mainly because I decided after I wrote it that I am not sure I want to follow through on remodeling the Clendenin house. The remodeling costs were more than I expected, the distance is more of a hassle than anticipated, and I am not really that in love with the area.

I am still thinking things over.


This blog was launched in order to share one newbie home buyer’s experience in buying and remodeling a wreck of a house.

Like the house itself, this blog is a work in progress.

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