I had some processing to accomplish before this post could formulate and find its way to the screen. The conversation with the contractor did not go well at all. He was defensive, rude, argumentative and before it was all said and done - his attitude had escalated to the point of him tossing the list and group of receipts at us and saying he was done with us and that we only wasted his time.
We tried a total of seven times to communicate with him that we were not challenging the bill. I don't think he ever heard that from us. He only wanted to defend his work and list and relist the things that he did for us that he didn't charge us for. When I point blank asked him why he didn't value his time and bill us for those things he couldn't answer. He also couldn't answer when I asked him the question, "Do I not have a right to a list of the items that I am paying for so that I know what we've already covered and what I need to plan for in the future?" I remember saying something to the effect of, "If we have entered into a working relationship where you are providing a service and I am paying for it would it not make sense to keep that relationship working well by making sure that everything is up on the table and there are no misunderstandings and resentment?" Those things went straight over his head or either he was blatantly ignoring me. He mentioned that we were "wasting his time" and that all of this could have been done on the phone. B said he didn't think so because until he (the contractor) was pressed for the list, several days had gone by since we requested the list.
When B asked him, after it was obvious that the conversation had disintegrated to a lower level, if he wanted to finish this job or not - he looked at B and said that he wasn't sure. I was really proud of B when he followed up that response with a "Ok then, let's finish the things that have already been committed to and you can think about what you want to do after that." I said, "Do I understand correctly that you are going to finish the things that are in process and the things that have been committed to?" and he said curtly, "Yes."
There were a few more words exchanged but we refused to engage in an argument with him. We both remained calm and rational. It was only after he left that B looked at me, opened his eyes real wide and said, "Good God Almighty! What The Hell Was THAT All About?!"
We decided to chew on it for a while, have the option of bringing it up to each other in conversation throughout the day and then discussing and formulating a plan before bedtime last night.
I didn't wait till evening before I got to work though. Our kitchen drywall needs to be completely finished before Wednesday when the cabinets arrive. In the past week, I've left 3 messages for the guy who was referred by the contractor. We've gotten nothing in return. At four yesterday afternoon, I started thumbing through the yellow pages. Last night at 10 pm, someone returned my call and will be at the house today before lunch to assess the job and give us an estimate on time and labor cost. He has 5 men that run a drywall installation and finishing business and they've been doing this for 30+ years. If his price is right, he can begin Monday morning with 2 of his men. He says that it will take 3 days for the complete process. The cabinets arrive on Wednesday and the installers come on Thursday afternoon. We will be cutting it close.
In other news from yesterday, I had 3 painting contractors scheduled to come and give me estimates on painting the new wood on the front of the house. Two showed up. The first estimate of $175 for the fascia board sounded good to me (since the contractor told me that it would take 2 of his men at 2 days of labor which is about $600) until the second painter told me that for $250 he would do the front of the fascia board and both dormers. This is all of what shows to the street on our house. He comes this morning to begin the work. He gave me a list of how much paint and what kind to have ready for him and also provided me a written estimate.
The garage doors are up. I'll share a picture today if I'm able. After the morning disaster with the contractor, it was so encouraging and refreshing to interact and witness someone who enjoys their job, has great people skills but most of all - is organized and effective in their work. When the contractor tore out of the driveway and I went back into the garage, the garage guy said, "I couldn't help but overhear that conversation and that man has a problem. I would NEVER speak to a client like that." The doors went up quickly and wonderfully. He began at 8:45am and was pulling out the driveway at 11am. He had programmed all of the remotes (including a key less entry pad that was mounted on the outside opening of the garage) and given both B and I in depth lessons on the operation and care of our new doors and opener. They look beautiful. His estimate was correct to the penny of his invoice and I wrote that check with pleasure.
Once the locks are installed on the two kitchen doors, we will have a secure house. The mower and some other items can begin to be relocated to the new house. I made B promise to me yesterday that he wouldn't begin moving things because we are not far enough along to move things and asked him not to invite trouble. He agreed for the time being.
There is still too much work to be done and now that I've been promoted to "contractor" I have a lot to learn in a short amount of time. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have to pull teeth to get the items in progress completed and argue over getting the contractor to finish what we've started. Beyond those items - I don't think that I will be hiring him for any more work.
I've been trying to put my feet in his shoes and understand why he may have felt threatened by us. I still have not been able to come up with a reason why he had so much trouble explaining our amount. We didn't have a problem paying it and we only wanted to know what we were paying for.
I don't understand why he was so defensive when we were so careful to not only preface the conversation with our intentions but we were careful to clarify throughout what we wanted to accomplish. Beyond the defensiveness was the outright unprofessional ism and rudeness that he exhibited. I don't think the apology is waiting in the wings.