With baited breath, we have waited for Adam Carolla’s series, “Catch a Contractor” to debut on Spike. Not only do I love home improvement shows, but I have worked in architecture firms, and in economic development – and – my fiance is a contractor. Here is what a contractor had to add about the Season 1, Episode 4 House of Cards episode.
In this episode, the main issue of movement of a load-bearing wall was unanticipated and then poorly done due to budget restrictions and shoddy workmanship. This extraction is far from “The Bermuda Triangle” mentioned in the Sleepless in Seattle kitchen scene, but it is potentially dangerous – and costly.
Here’s what you need to know about this episode when you plan to hire a contractor:
Reserve 10% of your budget for add-ons: The contractor in this episode claimed that he ran out of money. With this wall problem, he may have been telling the truth. When you plan your budget, keep 10% aside for unforeseen problems.
Contractors bid a project based on what they can see and what the customer asks for. Once the project starts and walls start to be broken into, the client and the contractor may find things that weren’t obvious at first. Trustworthy contractors know this and will advise you of any extra cost before they begin the additional work (a.k.a. change orders).
Clients with a good contractor often get excited and want to “add-on” different ideas as the project moves forward successfully. Put money aside to prepare for a good remodeling experience, too.
Process for Moving Load-Bearing Walls: This one remodeling action can start at an estimated cost of $2,000. Why? Because the house could literally fall down where the beam is supposed to be. When desiring this structural change, it helps to know the process and why it is so expensive.
As explained in the “Catch a Contractor” episode, a structural engineer needs to be hired by your contractor. Sometimes, an architect and engineer team needs to work on your plans. (read: money times two?)
The contractor then has to submit plans to the city, which can cost money to review even if you are denied. Lastly, the city approves or requests corrections, a permit (more money) gets issued and inspections (more time) – on that one part of the project – need to be scheduled with the city.
Do not hire unlicensed contractors off of Craig’sList: While I can’t repeat the joke Adam Carolla makes about Craig’sList on the episode (raunchy), I can share the comment my contractor fiancé made: Don’t hire a contractor driving a spotless Range Rover and wearing a Gucci jacket.
If your contractor is not dressed for the chance of hard labor, they may be too busy spending their profits instead of knowing how to do their job. Contractor licenses are not easy to get, but they can be achieved without on-the-job experience as a carpenter. Hire someone who is ready and able to help their laborers and sub-contractors if needed.
Craig’sList is a place to find contractors or a handyman. Be sure they are a bonded and licensed contractor. Always ask for their license #. Referrals from friends and Home Shows are the best way to find a contractor that you trust. Another source is a company such as HomeAdvisor.com which has contractors compete for your jobs.
In this episode, the contractor was liable for everything he did not know or didn’t care about contracting. He did not hire an engineer, have drawings made, apply for permits, or check on his laborers’ work. He also under-bid the job and got paid for work before it was completed. Don’t wait for Spike TV to save your project. “Do it right the first time”.
Albert Jeter contributed to this article; Contractor, Jeter Construction: License # 952330