How did this get so complicated? All we wanted was a contractor to run a gas line to our kitchen, so we could replace the electric range with a gas range. But I suspect that’s how many home remodels begin.
A home remodel is like cancer. It starts out tiny, just one little thing, then spreads to every nook and corner of your humble abode. Now we’ve remodeled the kitchen, the den, the hallway, and a bathroom, and it’s starting to metastasize into another bathroom, the bedrooms, and our living room.
Maybe I could have stopped this if only I knew from the start, how to understand contractor language. I’m learning though. The more I deal with this class of business person, the more I find myself picking up their patois.
I wrote this post to protect you from what has happened to me. I want you to learn their language, too, so that you can effectively deal with the next unintelligible contractor who shows up at your door.
What follows are ten common phrases spoken in contractor language, followed by a translation in layman’s language. If you let this be your Rosetta Stone, you could save a truckload of money:
Contractor: I don’t like written contracts.
Translation: I prefer to argue over who has the best memory.
Contractor: I thought that’s what we agreed on.
Translation: You should have insisted on a written contract.
Contractor: I’ve been doing this for many years now.
Translation: But I can’t say the same for those I hire.
Contractor: As long as you’re doing this much, you may as well spend a little extra and do that, too.
Translation: As long as I’m making a little money on this, I may as well be making a lot more on that.
Contractor: It won’t cost much more if you do it like this.
Translation: Just multiply by 2 or 3.
Contractor: This is a rough estimate.
Translation: Expect to pay no less than this.
Contractor: I have some bad news.
Translation: I have great news for my wallet!
Contractor: You don’t have to pay me now.
Translation: We’ll put your house back together some other day.
Contractor: We should be finished by next week.
Translation: We won’t be, though.
Contractor: This should last forever.
Translation: I’m pretty sure in a year or two you’ll be sick of it, and asking for another remodel.
And now for a slide show. Here’s some of what my unintelligible contractor has been up to . . .