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Excellent Remodels, Happy Homeowners: Is This a Distorted View?

Home's green remodel gives mother and daughter spaceI’ll admit that my view of remodeling is distorted. I’ve spent a couple of decades interviewing hundreds of homeowners whose remodels turned out great, and hundreds of contractors who are their heroes. Right at this moment, there are three Southern California homeowners looking forward to an interview with me in the next couple of days for my Pardon Our Dust column in the newspaper. They are giddy with excitement. They will likely say things like: “We love our new kitchen,” and “We can’t recommend our contractor enough.” They want to tell the world about their positive experiences.

So when I get a big dose of homeowners horror stories, like I read in Contractor markups: How much is too much?, I feel sad and sorry for these folks.

If I felt really nervous about attracting bad contractors into my life, I’d be obsessively vigilant in making sure I was hiring a reputable, award-winning, exceptional company. Just OK wouldn’t work for me. I’d have to have the best in town. I’d go to everyone I knew in the area and ask: Who is the best?

And when I got the bid, I wouldn’t quibble over the price.

It’s kinda like the dentist I found through my dental plan. Turns out he was a torturer, a sadist, cruel beyond measure. So what should I do? Never get dental work done? Do it myself? Instead, I asked around and got references for the kindest, most compassionate dentist around, the one whose staff is trained to pull back immediately if the client indicates pain. And I DO NOT quibble about price. I pay whatever he asks.

Why should remodeling be any different? For something so painful, so potentially disastrous, why would you not find the top-rated contractor in your area? It’s downright baffling.

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