What Your Contractor Means When He Says...
Your pro is so professional, he'll never tell you what he really thinks of your "great ideas." Good thing This Old House is here to do the translating for you
So you've called in a pro for your latest remodeling project. While he or she nods politely and agrees to your every whim, ever wonder they're really thinking? We asked Malcolm Friar, a longtime pro in Washington, D.C., to provide a few translations.
Homeowner says: Thanks for coming at such short notice.
Contractor says: No problem, happy to do it.
Contractor thinks: Of course I don't mind racing over here at 9 p.m. I've only been up since dawn.
Homeowner says: The project is pretty simple. New master bath, updated kitchen, nothing fancy—and just a lot of things around the house that we could do if only we had the time.
Contractor says: I understand perfectly. We are all so busy these days.
Contractor thinks: I hope that means they both work and are out of the house all day making enough money to pay for all this.
Homeowner says: Let's start with the kitchen. We want new cabinets, new appliances, granite countertops, and a new floor. And recessed lights and tile backsplash. Now, budget is a big issue, so we want to reuse the existing microwave.
Contractor says: I think that's a terrific idea, and we should get some great savings with that kind of thinking.
Contractor thinks: Yippee, we just saved $160. Except now that I look at it, the microwave is missing its handle (for which I will probably get blamed once work gets underway) and it doesn't look like it'll make through the remodel. Better build in the price of a new one.
Homeowner says: We have done some preliminary work and love this cabinet line. It happens to be the most expensive one out there so we were hoping you could find us something just like it but a lot cheaper.
Contractor says: We have a lot of resources to draw from and I am sure we will be able to provide you with some exciting choices.
Contractor thinks: The same thing but a lot less expensive. I wonder where the Same But Cheaper store is.
Homeowner says: We thought we would buy all the plumbing parts online. This will be a great way for you not to be bothered and we can save there. We'll probably do the same with the electrical.
Contractor says: I think a collaborative effort between the owner and the contractor is essential for a successful project.
Contractor thinks: So the materials arrive, they don't work and have missing parts, and all I have is a website to try to work all this out—and no percentage on the materials.
Homeowner says: It's very important to us that we go green. We want to do our part to help the environment. So naturally we want to rehab these old cabinets and appliances and give them to a charity so they don't end up in a landfill.
Contractor says: We are dedicated in our company to a marginal carbon footprint and to using sustainable resources.
Contractor thinks: I'll have to add a grand for chasing around after pricier green materials, and we'll save only 20 percent on the first dumpster. Plus, we'll have to pick up and deliver the salvaged stuff to charity. Better add time and gas for that, too.
Homeowner says: We want to take this wall down but only if you think it's safe.
Contractor says: We will be glad to take a look.
Contractor thinks: The last time this happened the ceiling nearly caved in. I better add in the cost of a structural engineer. And extra insurance.
Homeowner says: Could you just throw together a temporary kitchen in the basement? We don't need much—fridge, stove, couple cabinets, countertop, sink, dishwasher. In fact, it will be fun.
Contractor says: Absolutely. It is vital that you be able to go about your daily life with the minimum disruption.
Contractor thinks: 'Just throw it together' usually means 'It won't take you long so don't ask me to pay...'
Homeowner says: That's it. Could we get a bid by Friday?
Contractor says: We will see what we can do.
Contractor thinks: Which month?