Hiring general contractors – The hidden costs

4 06 2008

My husband and I went to Rona (a home improvement store) in Toronto Ontario recently. All we needed was 2 bags of stone screening to finish off our stairs to the backyard, and to return some unopened “stone effects” for a porch re-do we just completed.

It would have been an uneventful trip for us do-it-yourself types. In and out with the supplies, and it was, until we entered the parking lot. Here is where we witnessed the true cost of hiring a “General Contractor”.

At first I didn’t notice the man and woman walking towards the lumber yard, but my ever observant husband did. He tapped me on the shoulder and pointed in the rear view mirror. “See those people fighting? I wonder if it’s like those tv shows where they act out publically just to see what we do…” Of course he meant those “expose” television shows where they judge a persons nature and how they react in any given situation. I must admit, I watch them. The last one I saw was about Christian students walking by upset, lost looking, and financially strapped individuals on the street. Most ignored them, or crossed to the far side of the road. Only 1 stopped to see what was wrong. If I remember correctly he bought the guy a pair of shoes? What a guy…a pair of shoes! But tsk tsk on all those so-called Christians! – of course, if you were Tom Cruise and a “scientology follower” (You know if you’re a scientologist – you’re not like anyone else- you know you have to stop, cuz only you can)…..what a wanker!

We sat in our car and watched the (what we thought at the time) couple fighting and walking to their car, while all the time with grins on our faces looking for the ctv film truck. “Ha…she wanted the more expensive toilet seat!” or “She wouldn’t let him buy that tool he wanted” we joked with each other.

Then we saw her smack the guy hard across the face with true vigor! “Uh-uh” we thought. This isn’t fun anymore. This is escalating to violence. When she continued to “ear box” the man and he started to scream “lady your crazy- get away from me! If you hit me again I’ll hit you back. Don’t TEST ME” we got concerned.

All of a sudden the woman lunged at him, he grabbed her by the neck, shoved her about 2 feet and kicked her. She jumped right up and spat in his face and started pounding him with her fists yelling “You ripped me off, I’ll take it off you other ways.”

At this point, it looked to me as if one of them (most likely her) was going to be hurt. She wasn’t going to let up, and she wasn’t going to let him just walk away. As she was attacking him she was screaming “He was my contractor; he took my money and then ripped me off! I’ll get payment back one way or the other! He’s a asshole, he took my money and ripped me off…. (You get the point).

I opened the car door (I can be impulsive that way- It’s the Libra in me) jumped out and started screaming too “Stop that fighting NOW! You’re in the parking lot of Rona. stop acting like idiots” I was mad, I admit! “You both stop it now! If you have disagreements call the police but DON’T fight like punks in the parking lot RIGHT NOW! BOTH OF YOU”

The woman started yelling at me now “He ripped me OFF” followed by a shove at the man. “I don’t CARE. I SAID STOP IT NOW” By this time, some of Rona’s lumber yard staff had walked towards the couple. Since the two now had some referees and I didn’t think one of them would end up in the hospital it was time to go. I’m glad we do our own home improvement projects. My husband and I may fight a bit (mostly when he tells me I’m not “holding” something right) but nothing like an all and out brawl in a parking lot! I do know that if we do need to hire a contractor, we’ll do our homework on the person. We’d set payment schedules based on approved completed work. We’d check their references. We’d start them on a minor project just to see how good they were. I guess there is a lesson in everything. Maybe most of her anger is at herself for being swindled. There are hidden costs to hiring the wrong contractor that’s for sure.