In no way whatsoever am I trying to insult all male contractors. What I am trying to do is to address the fact that many contractors treat women like idiots, me included. Nothing annoys me more than when I walk into a room for the first time to meet a contractor and I catch him giving me that up and down side look. The moment they see me and recognize what I am there to do their back stiffens, their eyebrows arch and they mumble under their breath.
Yes I am a woman. And yes I am very comfortable around saw dust, lumber and the smell of cement. The fact that I have breast does not take away from the fact that I can put a solid, safe structure together.
A lot has changed from the time when contractors paychecks were always signed by men. Millions of women no longer wait to wed before buying a home. Many women are now buying their own homes and making major decisions all on their own.
Like many things in life, being a female homeowner is not easy. Some contractors, though by no means all, are on the prowl seeking to charm a female into a home improvement con. Of course not all contractors are parasites like these. In fact there are a lot of contractors out there that are taken advantage of themselves because they are too kind. However, it pays to educate yourself and be aware so that your first experience with a contractor is a positive one.
Tips For Hiring A Contractor
- When considering a contractor research his/her background as thoroughly as you would research the background of the person you are hiring to take care of your child. As you would never consider leaving your child with a total stranger, never consider leaving an uninvestigated contractor with the keys to your home. Value your home as much as your child, for they are both your babies.
- Your neighbor may recommend their contractor. Fine, but don’t just take their word for it. Do your own research and always meet with a few contractors. Never hire the first one you interview no matter how charismatic he may be. Make sure to get referrals. Ask for pictures of completed jobs and ask if you can contact that particular client. Look them up through the Better Business Bureau to check if complaints have been filled against them. Make sure that they are licensed to work in your town and that the name on the license is the same as on their driver’s license. You do not want your contractor to be filing under cousin Gilberto’s company.
- Please remember that the contractor is not there to be your best friend. He is there to get a job done. Try not to distract him. The more interruptions the longer the project will take. So if you are the ultimate distraction you cannot get upset when the project goes beyond its planned due date.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions, you have worked very hard for the money you are about to dish out. If you feel uneasy about communicating with the contractor from day one, then that’s a sign that you were not meant to work together. My advice is look elsewhere. Renovations are stressful enough without you wanting to hit your contractor over the head with a shovel on a daily basis!
Not every female is comfortable around a construction site. For that matter, not all men are comfortable around a construction sites either! So please do me a favor and educate yourself on the projects you are planning for your home. Jumping in without planning can be both costly and stressful. Last but not least, if your contractor tells you that your kitchen renovation is going to take four weeks, prepare yourself and plan for six. If he finishes on time you will love him forever. But if unexpected issues come up as they always do, at least you have planned for them without wanting to rip both his and your own head off.
Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page