Back in November and December, when we were interviewing contractors and then trying to decide which one to hire, my parents had lots of advice for us. Speaking from their position of having done home renovations in rural New York and also in rural Michigan, they felt qualified to tell us not only how much a renovation in metropolitan Ontario would cost ("$50,000 will be plenty!"), but also how, no matter who we hired, no matter how high their reputation or how glowing their recommendations, any contractor we hired would not finish on time ("you need to put a late penalty fee in the contract"), would not work steadily at the project ("He's not going to be there every day"), and would leave a mess behind when he was done ("You'll want to hire a maid service afterward"). They were adamant that I would have to approach our relationship with the contractor in an adversarial frame of mind, making sure, for example, not just to request that workers not smoke in our house, but to put such a requirement in the contract.
In this, as in so many other things, my parents don't know nearly as much as they think they do. Counting everything, the renovation is costing us around $80,000, and the scramble to shake loose the necessary funds (thanks to the parental fecklessness in which they promised things and then clawed them back later) continues. I'd say that on the revised finish date, Shawn was about 99% done, and most of the things not yet finished were beyond his control (eg, we were delivered the wrong toilet, and the sink did not come with all the required parts; the weather had been continuously below zero for weeks, forcing work on the deck to be put off to the very last minute; minor miscommunications about our requirements for the concrete pad leading to the deck also created a couple of extra days of work for him). Aside from the bureaucratic interregnum, Shawn or his crew or his subcontractors were there every working day. Most of Shawn's crew don't smoke, and those that do are chippers who smoke one cigarette a day, after lunch, and (by Shawn's policy) only outside. And not only have they consistently cleaned up after themselves throughout the renovation, when Shawn and his brother finally cleared out all their tools and supplies on Friday the 28th of march (only 4 days late, BTW), they left the house all-but spotless.
Before I talk about the other ways in which Shawn
was one of the right people to hire (as opposed to whoever my parents hired who gave them such a negative attitude toward the whole class of contractors),
A Disclaimer If you found this page via Google and are thinking of hiring Shawn Morren to work on your house, please note: morgan_dhu
needed a chemically safe, handicapped accessible place to live. We bought the house, and then discovered that the inspector had been wrong, and we had knob and tube everywhere. To make matters worse, my parents then reneged on part of their promises to help us pay for the necessary accessibility renovations. Shawn, like all contractors, has two kinds of clients -- those who can afford what they want, and those, like us, who can just barely scrape together enough for what they need. Shawn went out of his way to cut us some special breaks and did some work for us pro bono, but he made it clear that he was doing so because of our dire situation, and that he doesn't do that for everyone.
[end disclaimer]( More reasons why Shawn rocks behind the jump )
One final note: there's good contractors, and then there's all around good people. On that note, the other day, I learned that Shawn's monster 4-seat pickup is not just his business car, but his only car; he keeps carseats for his two young children in the back. And he makes a point of always fueling the truck with biodiesel.