Top Ten Things Not to Say to a Contractor

Top Ten Things Not to D0


The inspiration for this list has been a number of discussions held with contractors lately. Hope you like it.

10 Do not say to a contractor, “I’m in no rush.” If you do, at best the job will take longer than you could conceive. At worst, you’ll be on the bottom of the list of clients and your job might get done before you retire. (The fact that you are only forty is not comforting, Desmond.)

9 Do not say to a contractor, “I want your best price.” If you do, at best the bid will only be ten percent more than it would have been. At worst, your bid will come out somewhere North of what you expected to pay to rebuild the house let alone do repairs. (Hang on to that defibrillator, Dalton. You may need it when the actual bill is presented given all the change orders.)

8 Do not say to a contractor, “I have another bid to compare with yours.” If you do, at best you will actually get his bid. At worst, you will wait for a bid that will never come since the contractor figured you would take the other one anyway. (That strategy didn’t work well did it, Darren?)

7 Do not say to a contractor, “I really don’t know what I want.” If you do at best, it will cost plenty to find out. At worst, you may spend a lot of money and finally know what you don’t want. (That is sure an ugly addition don’t you think, Dustin?)

6 Do not say to a contractor, “Do what you think is best.” If you do, at best what is best for the contractor is best for you. At worst, what is best for the contractor is to send his child to college on the proceeds from your job. (Should have asked more questions, Davis.)

5 Do not say to a contractor, “I don’t mind a little dust.” If you do, at best your vacuum will keep up. At worst, you’ll find yourself in the ER with advanced symptoms of asthma. (You should have known when all the workers were wearing respirators, Deacon.)

4 Do not say to a contractor, “We get up early.” If you do, at best early is eight o’clock to the contractor. At worst, first light will bring you the wake-up sound of a skill saw in the next room. (Establishing the work hours might have been wise, Dwayne.)

3 Do not say to a contractor, “We can do without water for as long as it takes to fix.” If you do, at best the fix will be quick. At worst, the water will be shut off on Friday at three in the afternoon and the job is finished that next Monday at nine o’clock AM. (A nice long weekend without water for a three-hour repair is not a bad trade-off, right Darrell?)

2 Do not say to a contractor, “Help yourself to soft drinks and water.” If you do, at best there will be use only when needed. At worst, you didn’t realize that the contractor’s city-wide crew numbered thirty and you were out of liquid by noon. (Should have set a limit huh, Devan?)

1 Do not say to a contractor, “Sure you can come back later and finish that little job.” If you do, at best you’ve held back some money and it does get done. At worst, you paid the whole bill and it has been three months without a return phone call. (Good luck with that little job. Maybe you can hire another contractor to do it, Duane.”


  1. Good to see Tiny got a vacation this week. 😜. #4 is a killer when you have early-stirring neighbors or one person in the house is on a different schedule. Nothing helps one sleep after a night shift like banging hammers.

    1. Ha ha ha. So true. Yes, I gave Tiny the week off. I was going to say, “Do not hire a contractor who has an employee named Tiny.” But it didn’t fit.

      1. Good point. Tiny could be an expert at gutter installation.

  2. 0 In the middle of a major job, do not say to a contractor, “Actually, can I just change a few details.” If you do, at best your changes will be incorporated and the cost will sky-rocket. At worse, you’ll need to find another contractor to finish the job.

    1. Thanks, Keith. So true and funny.

  3. Gwen Plano · ·

    Great list, much too kind. I wish I had read #6 before the work on our home commenced. I learned the hard way that blind trust is not a virtue. 🙂

    1. There you go. The Germans have a saying “trust is fine, control is better.” Thanks, Gwen

  4. I hope you haven’t experienced too many of these, John. Great list!

    1. Well…….Thanks, Jill

  5. A great list that is based on true facts.

    1. Thank you, Andrew.

  6. So funny, John. I think you’re onto a great Do Not series, here.

    1. Thank you, Jennie. 🙂

      1. My pleasure. 🙂

  7. Impressive collection of “D” names, John. I wonder if there is a real contractor lurking among them. 😉 Hopefully your dealings are going better than this, but I’m afraid to ask. Hugs on the wing!

    1. Thank you, Teagan. Very slow going here. Hugs

  8. I have way more experience being the contractor than working with a contractor, John, but I can tell you that this is a good list. My worst experience was the woman who said “I’m not sure what color stain I want. Why don’t you pick one.” – I replied: “I am colorblind. Maybe you want to reconsider.”

    1. Ha ha ha. If you had picked the color it would have been wrong. 😀

      1. Also the story of every married man 🙂

      2. For sure. The old joke. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around is the husband still wrong.

  9. Oh, John, the trials of liming amidst repairs! (If you can get somebody to do the work quickly and for a fair price!) Great list — here’s hoping they’ll finish soon.

    1. Thanks, Debbie. 😀

  10. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    I can admit to saying a couple of these:) I am still waiting on a final touch in one case. Another great Monday morning smile. Hope it all goes smoothly for you.

    1. Thank you DL. Always glad to cause a smile.

  11. Good morning, John,
    That reminds me: do you know what you need to become a contractor in Texas? – A pick-up truck, and ladder, and … a dog. 😉
    Have a wonderful day,

    1. Don’t forget the tape measure.

      1. Don’t you think such a contractor could just do it by rule of thumb? “Pi mal Daumen”, as we say in Germany.

      2. You are so right. “Close enough for Government work,” covers it as well.

  12. Well done, good sir. I’ll tape this list to the wall in my office – just to be sure!

    1. Yes. One thing to say to a contractor. “Would you like a Molson?”

      1. Spoken like a true Hoser!!

  13. You nailed this one! And you put #1 in the right place. Continued good luck on repairs, John!

    1. Thank you, Jo. 😀

  14. True! Pretty hot sushi-set, dear John! Great! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Maria.:-D

  15. LOL I can So relate!!

    1. 😀 Thanks, Micki

  16. Eeeep I’ve got one coming today! Thanks John. I got a good laugh out of these

    1. Glad you did. Thanks for letting me know.

      1. Grrrrr he didn’t show up!

      2. Of course he didn’t

  17. I can relate to all of these – bad experience with a certain contractor.

  18. Obviously spoken from experience. Love all the “D” names. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jan. Been concentrating on names. (no reason, just to kick it a little.)

  19. Nor should you say…”whenever you have time”. From experience that never works in your favor. Giggle worthy list, John

    1. That is a killer. You might as well get another.

  20. Great list! Always give the minimum deposit, and schedule payments based on the work completed has worked well for us. I hope your work and dealings with contractors is going better than you hoped and stays that way. 🙂

      1. YW! Going by your list I’m not too worried about you. I know you’re doing the same! It may take a while longer to get things done though since it was a major catastrophe which effected a couple of States.
        Living through a Major Earthquake and knowing how the Feds and State are and living through that I have a pretty good idea of what y’all are going through.

        I think it’s amazing that you weren’t more damaged than you were there on the Island. I’m sure you’re counting your blessings as I was after the 89 Loma Pierta Quake.
        I watched my front lawn roll in waves like the sea for minutes after the shaking had stopped. Thankfully I only lost dishes, and a cupboard full of spices and food stuffs. The worst was finding our chimney had broken at the roof line. Thank God it didn’t fall into the house!
        We had braces put on it after that, and I have I hope enough water, and food to get through until the State and Feds and other organizations start getting supplies in. I passed out fliers to my whole neighborhood after that to tell them where to get supplies so they could live through it without help for several weeks. It’s coming and we don’t when.
        My Mother who retired in FL about 6 yrs. ago said to me after Irma. ” After living through both an Earthquake of some magnitude and a major Hurricane…I’ll take a Hurricane any day. That I can prepare for and have plenty of leave. An Earthquake. Not at all”!
        I’m thinking about that!

        TMI? Yeah, probably. I’ll stop talking now.

      2. Thank you so much, Deborah. Not TMI. Sharing experiences which is a good thing. 😀

  21. We went ahead and paid for repairs to our flat before the contractor was finished with the work as he said he and his men would come back and finish if we did. They didn’t. 😦 — Suzanne

    1. Of course he didn’t. Sad.

  22. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    John has advice on hiring a contractor.

    1. Thank you for the lovely reblog, Suzanne

  23. What? No Tiny this week, John? 😰 I suppose he needs a holiday as much as the rest of us do. Hope you’re having a great week off, Tiny.

    Add biscuits and cakes to #2. They seem to eat them as if they are going out of fashion. Instead of the one trip a week to the supermarket to buy some, it becomes a once a day trip.

  24. Ha ha, John. As a veteran liver in houses that are being renovated, all I can say is “Smile and wave, John, smile and wave”.

    1. That is all you can do.

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