Monday, January 09, 2006

A Piece Of The Puzzle

It occurred to me that I’m leaving an important part of the porch story.

Let me give you kids some perspective.

Now this may not be true for everyone who lives on the south side of Chicago but I’ve found it to be true based on my four scant years down here.

It’s easier to find a senior class virgin in a Chicago public high school than to get fairly priced, quality contractors to bid on any type of construction projects on the south side of Chicago.

I only wish I was exaggerating about this.

You can speak with people about estimates and the like but the moment you give them your address either they don’t show up or all of a sudden their schedule “is full.” The unfortunate side effect of these actions are that if you live on the south side and don’t have access to people that know others in the building trades---you’re left at the mercy of “contractors” who generally advertise on telephone poles.

In short you’re screwed.

I’m not saying that contractors who advertise on telephone poles (sometimes with hand printed signs) are any less qualified than contractors who you find from friends or in the phone book, but it’s been my experience that it’s difficult to check references, licensing and possible litigation with the telephone guys.

That goes ditto for those jokers who pester you in the parking lot and the store at Home Depot.

“Excuse me Miss, do you need a reliable contractor, carpenter or painter? If so, I’m your man.”

So why exactly would I let a man into my house that I don’t know to do work that he may or may not be qualified to do? Can you spell dumbass?

A friend that works for the local phone company tells me that he knows several trades people who won’t even take estimates or bids in the city, much less the south side, because they’ve had bad experiences getting tools or vehicles stolen. He also cited several incidences of workpeople being assaulted.

In short we got quite the bad rep down here in our little slice of the world.

To underscore this fact, I tried to have a contractor give me an estimate to replace my tub and shower backsplash with this super groovy glass mosaic tile sometime this spring. After two appointments, no one from the company showed up. They didn’t even bother to call or anything.

Now that would only be par for the course around here but this lead came from a client/contractor matching service that I’ve belonged to for several years. All of my information, including my address, was already a part of my profile. If they simply didn’t want to come to the city or the south side all they had to do was not to respond to my call for contractors.

Pretty simple concept---jackasses.

While the Porch People have been great so far in terms of responsiveness and price, I will continue keeping my fingers crossed until the last nail has been hammered.

Nonetheless man about town, marathon runner, devoted husband and real estate professional James Lackland goes on the list of “peeps with props” who’s advice was instrumental to me in this whole porch process.

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