I'm in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Carey_PA

Posted by Carey_PA on June 22, 2001 at 08:39:13:

Just a note: HE IS NOT MY BROTHER! (I wouldn’t let my brother do the work lol)

He is a co-workers brother and the guy gets rave reviews from others that had him do work for them!

But I most likely will stick to my first contractor, unless we can’t agree on terms and start date, etc.



I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Carey_PA

Posted by Carey_PA on June 21, 2001 at 20:02:32:

Hi all,

This is nothing big but I’m new to this and I don’t quite know how to handle it.

I had several estimates from contractors and then I was settling on one and a co-worker recommended his brother. SO the brother comes out and takes a look and says he’ll get an estimate to me.

Well today, I verbally told another contractor ok, but I know he’s screwing me on some things. (we argued over price a bit and I got him to knoce $700 off the estimate)

So I go to check my faxes and THE CO-WORKERS BROTHER had sent me the estimate!!! Low and behold he’s an honest guy and ALL OF HIS PRICES ARE REASONABLE!!!

Now I’m in a pickle…what do I do? Do I give it to the brother (his price is $2,000 lower than the other guy and I know people that he’s done work for and they say he does GREAT WORK) and if I do give it to the brother, how do I break the news to the other guy??

Thanks in advance!!


I would like to add… - Posted by SCook85

Posted by SCook85 on June 21, 2001 at 22:38:42:

that a $2000 discrepancy for a rehab is not a lot of money provided you are talking a full rehab. $2000 discrepancies for a paintjob is a lot.

I would rather pay good contractors more money to get my work done quick and right then shop for the lowest guy in town who may or may not do a good job, and who may or may not finish the job, and who may or may not do it in a timely manner.

You can eat up $2000 saved on an estimate in no time in holding costs, contractor walk offs, items not included in your estimate (add on costs), etc…


Re: I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Mike Schmidt (IL)

Posted by Mike Schmidt (IL) on June 21, 2001 at 21:56:16:

I will disagree with some of the others, you said you would have him do the work but you signed nothing and paid nothing, so I would feel free to go with the lower price if his work is as good as you say it is. I was in this business for a few years and being told “yeah, we will have you do the work” means nothing to a contractor. Until he asks you to sign or make a deposit he is very well aware he may never start the job.

Now its hard to know exactly how your conversation went or if he has already made any preparations to start the job, so I say the above without knowing that and that might change how I feel about it. Also if contractors are hard to get in your area you might not want to burn that bridge. In which case I would call the lower guy and tell him he was a little to late but you will give him first shot at your next project.

What I would do is call him or even fax him a copy of the lower quote and put him on the spot, ask why he is so much higher for items A,B and C. See how he answers. If you feel he is being honest great, if not, then you really need to think about it.

Re: I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Travis (Dallas)

Posted by Travis (Dallas) on June 21, 2001 at 21:31:40:

If you haven’t paid any money or signed an agreement, you have the right to change your mind. In most States you even have the right to change your mind after you’ve signed a contract for home improvements. How many times have you gone to a store & said you were going to buy something, but changed your mind. You have to feel comfortable with a Contractor. If you aren’t, you better switch or you’ll be sorry. However, I wouldn’t use the brother. I’d find another contractor…Get some more estimates.
In other businesses, I have had customers sign contracts to buy from me, but allowed them to back out if they wished. I want happy customers before, during, and after I do work for them. If they have second thoughts, it always works out for the best for the both of us & I usually get alot of referals from them. I want my customers to be glad they did business with me.
Good luck.

Re: I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Kiersten

Posted by Kiersten on June 21, 2001 at 21:11:01:

I agree to stick with contractor A but you can also use your new estimate from contractor B to perhaps get him lower or at least have him justify his costs. The #1 rule when doing this is to upfront tell him you have no intentions of using contractor B and that you are honoring your agreement at the current price. This will put him at ease since the conversation doesn’t sound like a “threat” to him, but then present him with contractor B’s estimate and ask him if there’s any way he can rework some of his prices or walk you through why his is higher. Let him know you are new at this and just want to understand why estimates are so varied and are looking to build long term working relationships. He hopefully will, at least, be able to explain some hidden costs he’s anticipating that is covered in his estimate or perhaps come down a bit once he realizes he’s high and you are aware of it. Being honest with him certainly can’t hurt, he will be aware that you are educating yourself and will be cautious of his fees because referral and repeat business is the easiest way for him to make money! Good luck!

Re: I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Ronald * Starr

Posted by Ronald * Starr on June 21, 2001 at 20:54:08:


Yes, I think it is best to be honest, go with the fellow you promised the job to. Now, when he does the work, I would, were I in your place, be prepared to be a little more demanding, given that the fellow is getting $2,000 extra.

I would also be careful how I talked to the brother. Apologize for being a little too quick to pick up the other offer. If you can find him some other work which is not included in the project, you might ask him if he’d like a chance at that.

Good Investing and Good Investigating of ContractorsRon Starr*******

Honor your agreement! - Posted by SCook85

Posted by SCook85 on June 21, 2001 at 20:22:59:


If you have already signed an agreement with the first contractor or given your word, I don’t see how you can turn back on that. I personally would honor my word and tell “the brother” that you have already contracted with someone else but you will be happy to give him a shot on the next job.

It’s a $2000 lesson. You should have learned to wait for all estimates next time. And the extra $2000 will come back to you many times over in the future for maintaining a good name.

Also you may be comparing apples with oranges.


Steve, it’s not a complete… - Posted by Carey_PA

Posted by Carey_PA on June 22, 2001 at 08:41:14:

rehab. It’s just a new laundry room floor, new master bath, new toilet/vanity in 2nd bath and painting and patching of 2 bedrooms!

It’s definitely more than just paint, but by no means a major rehab!

I’m going to honor my word and go the with first guy (GRRRRRRR) as long as he’ll start in a timely manner and as long as we agree on the terms.

Thanks Steve,


Re: I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Troy

Posted by Troy on June 21, 2001 at 21:44:30:

We’re talking about $2000 difference in price!! To me, it would be a NO BRAINER.

If you didn’t feel comfortable with the first contractor’s price, you should not have verbally agreed to have him to do the work.

While I’m all for honoring your word and such, I would have a problem having a contractor do work for me, knowing I’m being screwed on some things & knowing I could have had the same work done, feel comfortable about the transaction, and SAVE $2000 in the process.

Good Luck


Yeah! Be Diplomatic nt - Posted by Mark W.

Posted by Mark W. on June 23, 2001 at 05:23:43:


Re: Honor your agreement! - Posted by Carey_PA

Posted by Carey_PA on June 21, 2001 at 20:39:32:

I didn’t sign an agreement but I did give me word…D*%n it Steve, I knew you were gonna say what you said!



Re: I’m in a contractor pickle! - Posted by Carey_PA

Posted by Carey_PA on June 22, 2001 at 08:54:43:


I understand what you’re saying about if I wasn’t comfortable with the contractors price that I shouldn’t have verbally agreed to have him do the job AND that makes sense BUT I’ve had 8 estimates and his was the best price! (until I got my final estimate grrrrr)

Actually, 1 of the 8 estimates was EVEN lower than my newest offer, but in my OPINION the guy was TOOOOOO low and I didn’t want to risk having a sh*tty job done just to save $3-4K


Re: Honor your agreement! - Posted by Kent Cheatham

Posted by Kent Cheatham on June 22, 2001 at 02:59:48:

My word is my bond. I keep it even to a financial disadvantage to ME! But I would take the submitted lower paper to the contractor and be honest with the contractor. Which is to ask, why he feels his bid is so much higher. Tell him you wish to save face with your brother and prefer giving the job to the brother (if you wish) but tell him you will keep your word to the contractor if he wishes to hold you to it verbally. You’re integrity will almost always lead him to let YOU make the choice. You may need to deal with this guy in the future, be aware of that. And Steves advice about the medium priced guy usually being better is usually true. If you do a lot of rehabbing you will need a list of 10 contractors for any given job so that one is avail to you at any given time.

As a side note, I have 3 brothers and a sister. Much as I love them, I prefer to not be beholden to them in business…grin…you know the story.

Good Luck

Re: Honor your agreement! - Posted by Sherman

Posted by Sherman on June 21, 2001 at 21:03:32:

Honor Your Word, BUT…
…Use the second estimate to your advantage.
One of Roger Dawson’s favorite Negotiating gambits is “Good Guy/Bad Guy”. Be upfront (but don’t tell him who) and tell the Contractor you have a verbal contract with, that you have another contractor who is “banging down your door” (The “Bad Guy”) to get the job, but you are a person of your word and gave the deal to him. However, you are getting tired of being “nickeled and dimed”, and if he is looking towards the long term, be fair. Although you are out $2,000 (maybe yes, maybe no), you can still use this second contractor “in the wings” as leverage to keep the other guy in line. Mean time, continue to look into this other contractor and his background and maybe now you’ll have two (2) capable contractors in the future to bid for your business.