Recommending Contractors Gives Me A Rash!

By
Real Estate Agent with Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. AB95346

OK.  I'm a real estate agent.  And I live in an old wreck that I've been renovating over the years.  So if anybody has a great list of plumbers, electricians, carpenters and general contractors, it should be me!  Well, not really.

Many of the contractors who have worked on my house were just wonderful.  They showed up, did a great job, and were reasonably priced.  And I would give their names out - enthusiastically! 

Then I would get calls from friends and clients who were using them, and guess what?  They were late starting.  They were late finishing.  They charged three times more than they said they would.  And the workmanship?  Shoddy!  Really, really shoddy!

Oh dear!  This is not good!  It reflects badly on me and could cost me business in the future!

Some of these guys I really love and understand that there are two sides to every story.  Still, there are only two companies that I will recommend wihout reservation - my heating and air conditioning guy and my electrician.

The general conractor who did my bathrooms was a freakin' nightmare.  My clients would make up a Pat Kennedy voodoo doll and poke i with pins if I passed on their names. 

My plumber was great until I went to use my new shower and realized the temperature contol was set too low.  They keep saying they'll fix it and it's been about a year.  After doing a lot of really good work on the bathrooms, they screwed it up by an improperly adjustd setting that needs a tool they never have with them to adjust.  They're off my list.

The contractor I loved who did my kitchen did a great job then took three months to install my new built-in microwave.  Made me a crazy woman.

Another contractor was nasty to a friend who decided to use somebody else.  His prices had gone up exponentially since he did some work for another client of mine who loved him.

Now, I rely on Angie's List.  It's a membership thing, where subscribers post information about contractors they have used, along with reviews.  In the DC area, there are now  which contractor names and reviews in this area to be quite useful.  And I'm going to start giving it as a housewarming present to my clients.

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Rainmaker
1,184,673
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Pat,

We inspectors have the same problem. If you do a good inspection, your clients look upon you as some sort of sage from above, they want to know who you recommend. I have a good list of people I think are quality. On the other hand, I had a roofer I recently took off the list because he would never call my clients back. Good work, bad customer service. I sympathize with you on this and, rest assured, you are not alone.

Oct 17, 2008 08:03 PM #1
Ambassador
2,480,029
Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Steve, most of the home inspectors in this area won't recommend repair contractors.  I sort of wish they would!

Oct 17, 2008 09:29 PM #2
Rainer
35,606
Jane Page Thompson
Aiken Properties - Aiken, SC

Thank goodness someone else goes through this, too.  I am in the same microwave boat, too.  I refer people to the Home builders Asco.

Oct 17, 2008 10:20 PM #4
Rainmaker
312,527
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Pat - I never heard of Angie's List but then it's NY. I wonder.... is Angie related to Craig?

Oct 18, 2008 12:39 AM #5
Rainmaker
312,527
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Oh, and I totally agree with your experiences. Contractors I have used in my home have provided me with a higher level of service (probably in hopes of referral business), which they neglected to provide to my clients.

Oct 18, 2008 12:41 AM #6
Rainer
153,314
Ken Montville
RE/MAX United Real Estate - College Park, MD
The MD Suburbs of DC

Pat - your story reminds me of something that Joe Stumpf of By Referral Only (your favorite real estate guru/trainer :-)...)once told.  It seems he had a contractor in his house and the contractor just happened to listen to one of his tapes while performing his work.  So the contractor, knowing Joe was connected to a lot of other people, really did a super job, left flowers on the table and wrote a nice thank you note.  Needless to say, Joe referred this guy out thinking he really new how to a) do a great job and b) build a happy relationship.  But the guy turned out to dis all the other people -- sloppy work, high prices.  Exactly like your story.

Here's what I think. These contractor types do well for us because they think we're a conduit for more business (think loan officers and title companies, too) but as great as they are with us, they are piss poor with the people we refer them to.

Now, I make sure I tell contractors I'm a super star real estate agent with lots of clients who I talk to all the time.  I get a great job at a great price. I very rarely refer.

Speaking of Angie's List -- I used them to find some contractors.  Some were good and some were not so good.  When I gave a begative review to the not-so-good contractors, Angie's List followed up (good so far).  I told them I was a Realtor contracting the vendor on behalf of a client and they gave me a hard way to go since their service (which I paid their dues for) was only for first party users (Realtors being the "third party" in this case). Not so good. 

I asked for a refund and got it.

So, if you're going to use Angie's List make sure you pretend to be the end user.  Either that or don't provide any contractor reviews.  Maybe they've changed.  Who knows?

Oct 18, 2008 08:27 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,184,673
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Pat,

Around here it is still fairly common. I will not recommend unless I know they are good. Probably you are enough more litigious in DC to make it that much more risky. I bet you have no shortfall of lawyers.

Oct 18, 2008 08:13 PM #8
Rainer
85,159
Rich Mielke
REMAX Results, Frederick MD - Frederick, MD
REALTOR, Frederick Maryland Real Estate

Pat,

When I refer anybody, I call the contractor/lender/inspector/whomever and tell them that I am referring Mr and Mrs Client to them because you have worked for me in the past and I was very satisfied with the work. I am counting on them to provide the same quality service to them as they provided to me. If, for any reason they feel that they can't do that, then I ask them to not take the job.

Oct 19, 2008 06:59 PM #9
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