Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Tale of Frustration



Okay – Larry the Contractor has fallen off the face of the earth.  And, I want a screen porch added to the back and a roof on the existing porch, stairs, and walkway on the front of the house.  Whooboy, I am way outside of my comfort level.

A Tale of Total Frustration and Four Contractors
part two

Something I did have was the name and phone number of one of the subcontractors who had done work on both previous houses.  I’ll call him Calvin.  He’s always enthusiastic, positive, ebullient, and exudes “I’ll take care of everything you don’t need to worry I got this”. 

I called; did he know who had taken over Larry the Contractors business?  Why yes, was his reply – me!  Well cool!  I’m familiar with Calvin, I know his work, this might be the easy answer.  I explained what I wanted.  He’d come out.  Now, this was back in March.  Calvin came out, I explained in detail what I wanted.  He took measurements and WROTE THEM DOWN.  Then he says, you know, lumber prices are sky high right now and it might be better if you wait a couple of months.  But he would submit a bid and we could rediscuss everything.  Fine.

At the same time, I called another contractor who’s work I’m familiar with – I’ll call him “the local guy” (TLG).  He also came over, took measurements, and we discussed what I want with a lot of talk on how the walkway would be covered.  He had one thought; I wanted something else.  Still, he’d get back to me.

drew a blank here – just imagine
a screened porch sitting on a flatbed truck
tooling down the highway

And, finally I called a company in another town just down the road aways.  And, I’ll call them “down the road” (DTR).  They work a little differently.  You give them the info on what you want, they show you pictures and you choose one, then they build the porch AT THEIR SITE and truck it in and install it.  Well, this seemed just a bit weird to me.  Do you come out to see the site and take measurements, I ask?  Nope.  Uhmmmm – how do you know you can get the truck to the place the porch is going?  Oh it’s not a problem.  Oooookay.  Plus, they couldn’t do the work on the front porch.

And, then I waited for bids.  And waited.  And ……….. – well you get it.  Finally I did get a bid from Calvin.  High but price of lumber and all.  Also got a bid from DTR – very high.  I decided I’d wait a bit to see if lumber prices went down. 

Then in August, I started the process again, however this time I decided against DTR because I have a really bad feeling that they will build the screened porch, truck it here, and 1 will not be able to get the truck close enough to the house to put it where I want it or 2 it won’t fit because I AM NOT A CONTRACTOR so my measurements are not perfect.  Okay, I have taken DTR off the list of possible. 

So I called TLG.  Can I get a bid for the work we discussed back in March?  Well, he’d have to come back out and remeasure everything.  Be there end of the week.

Called Calvin.  Same question – new bid??  Sure, but he couldn’t read his notes he’d have to come back out.  Be there end of the week.

Called a new guy, I’m calling Juniper.  Found his name on our local chat group on Facebook.  Yes, he does that.  Yes, he’d come out this week.

Called new guy I’m calling Fred found the same place.  Yes, he does that.  Yes, he’d come out this week.

And, Juniper came out.  Very nice young man.  We discussed AT LENGTH what I wanted.  Screened back porch.  Cover on existing front porch, cover on stairs, cover on walkway.  Lots of detail.  He drew diagrams.  He asked where I wanted the stairs.  What type of roof.  Plus they are a full service company, he said, they do it all!  And, he promised to have a detailed bid to me by the Tuesday after Labor Day. 

Fred came out.  We talked.  He took measurements.  I was already prepped by Juniper so I had all the details ready.  He’d get back in a few days.

Calvin came out to remeasure (2 weeks later).  Got out of his truck, walked up to the house.  Oh yes – now he remembered.  Turned around to leave with a – I’ll get back to you in a couple days.

TLG came by (2 weeks later).  He remeasured everything.  We discussed other options for the cover over the walkway.  I told him what I wanted.  He didn’t like that, made another suggestion; I still didn’t like his option. 

And I waited for bids.  And waited.  And …… again, you get it.  I called each one again.  Am I going to get a bid?  Oh sure, just been busy.  Will get to it soon, sometime, in the future.

Finally, I got a text from Fred.  Price – between $10k and $14k.  No no no, say I.  I need the porches broken out in cost.  Cost of materials and labor and your timeline.  Oh, he replied, well okay.  Two weeks later I finally got the information from him.  Good!  Yay!  The only other problem with Fred is that he can’t give me any references or show me anything he’s built.  I am assuming he can build porches because his name came up in our local chat group.   

Then a week later I got a materials list from TLG.  No labor, just materials.  Hmmmm okay, not completely helpful.  And a week after that he stopped by with the labor charges and a timeline.

No word from Juniper or Calvin.  I left messages AGAIN for each.  No, nothing, nada.

Finally, I decided on TLG because I know his work and his prices were within my budget.  He could start on Monday. 

And there were communication problems from the get-go.  Plus, I told him again what I want on the cover for the stairs and walkway to make sure we’re on the same page.  No we were not.  He modified his vision of the cover.  Not a happy camper here.  Tuesday he was going to pick up the materials.  I called him before the pick up and said, Look, if you can’t do what I want, lets just forget doing the cover on the stairs and walkway all together.  I won’t be happy with your way.  Not changing anything else – just no cover over the stairs and walkway.  Hold on, he’d come back to my house.  Fine.  I said everything all over again ending with that’s not what I want.  Possibly I was a bit testy by the fourth time I said just don’t do the stairs and walkway, everything else is good.  Aaaaaaand – he quit.  Just like that.  Here’s your money back. 

Shock!  Surprise!  Distress!  Astonishment!  Flabbergasted!



So, now I’m back to 6 months ago with no contractor and no porches in sight.  Think I’ll wait until after the first of the year to start up again.

The End

22 Sep 2021



  1. Gsh, what a saga. Are you getting the impression they don't actually know how to do it??

    1. My general feeling is - my job isn't important enough to put on the schedule list.

    2. That was my other thought, especially when a sky high quote came in. It's an age old way to avoid a job without saying no.

  2. It's too bad you don't know anyone who could recommend a contractor based on their own personal experience.

  3. Sorry about the contractor woes. Though you're probably best off that TLG showed you what he thinks of being challenged (by a female no less!) before he even started. He could have dropped you half way through the job and left things torn up, or forged ahead and did what he thought you should have.