Articles: Learn, Maintain & Repair

Dealing With A Bad Contractor

First of all, for the record, I tend to think of contractors as pretty keen guys. I really like them, I do. Sometimes, however, you end up dealing with a bad contractor.

But like many of you, I’m somewhat baffled by them. They seem so anxious and eager to come into your home, tear it apart and make it better. But then, somewhere in that process, they disappear. You can call them, page them, and, in some cases, even email them.

But, poof, they’re gone – like your tax refund a day or so after you get it. And in the meantime, you’re left to look at exposed walls and coils of wiring and plumbing fixtures. All during that time you’ll be pondering deeply if your life will ever get back to normal.

Then, just about the time you’re ready to move, the missing contractor will show up again. The contractor is like some sort of Chicago alley cat, a smile on their face, ready to finish the job. And similar to David Lynch film, they act like nothing is out of whack.

It seems that some contractors are so good at this that they have been trained by the CIA in clandestine measures. I’m not sure where these guys go when they disappear. But I’ve got a few theories on why contractors disappear, go rouge or simply vanish. This is why you end up dealing with a bad contractor.

Theories on why contractors disappear from jobs
A sporting event

Being a guy’s guy (meaning, they have more tools than anyone you know and you are in awe of that), a contractor likes his sports. So if it’s a beautiful and warm spring day, look to the ballpark. And if the Cubs or Sox are hosting, there is a good chance that you can locate your missing contractor at either Wrigley or Comiskey Park.

Check the seats close to the beer stand.

Your neighbor’s house (either side)

Because contractors are always looking for their next job, there is a good chance that when they disappear, they are no more than a stone’s throw away. Has your neighbor recently mentioned that they may be seeking to have some work done on their home? Then it’s a safe bet that while your back was turned, the very moment you took your eyes off your contractor, that neighbor waved them over and lured them in – maybe with a warm plate of cookies.

By the way, don’t expect your neighbor, who would also love to have their home improvement work done in a timely fashion (meaning months before your work is finished), to be a stoolie on your contractor. Ask them if they happen to see your contractor and they’ll roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders. And when the electric saw goes off in the background, they’ll probably mutter something about those “damn mutant South American termites”.

Don’t worry, if you only have minor issues, the real problems can result in true contractor horror stories.

The closest recreational waterway

For some reason, every contractor I have ever met has had owned some sort of a water craft. And you know the story about a boat. Boating is an expensive hobby. You must then revel in it during the nine days of good boating weather Chicago might have. So, no contest.

The shopping excursion

Because most contractors are basically procrastinators, they’re not the type of persons that are going to have a gift prepared for their significant other’s birthday, anniversary, etc. So come the big day, they’re in a panic and will likely bolt to the closest shopping mall to shop. There, they will wander aimlessly, or at least walk back and forth in front the Victoria’s Secret shop for hours. (A couple of suggestions here: ask your contractor for the important dates in his life. Then, set up a marker board calendar in your house with a countdown clock. That will remind him of these fast approaching deadlines. You can also offer items and furnishings from around your home as substitutes for store-bought presents to the contractor.)


Not the best of the options here. Let’s only hope the contractor wasn’t doing concrete work on your basement floor.

It’s sometimes hard working with contractors. But dealing with a bad contractor can make the whole home renovation or home repair process a nightmare.

by Jim Sulski.