Do I hire the cheap contractor?
North Star Stone
December 18, 2012 in Design Dilemma
Many of the beautiful project pictures displayed on Houzz are done by professionals that charge a fair price and you get outstanding workmanship. The adage of you get what you pay for is so true!

The best way to judge if a contractor and designer is worth the price is by asking for example of their past work and looking at reviews from Houzz or Google or other sources.

We were hired to remove the existing stone on the fireplace because the first contractor didn't apply wire mesh and a skim coat of mortar to the work area. The result was the stones were becoming lose on the two story fireplace and represented a hazard. The homeowner had to pay for the removal and then the replacement of the new stone. Had the owner hired a masonry company that didn't cut corners, they would have many thousands of dollars ahead.

Our suggestion is to dig deeper into all the contractors you are dealing with to make sure you are getting a project that is well done and worth the money. You will probably spend a little more money, but it is worth it.

The stone in the after picture is our unique blend called Wisconsin Prairie Style Stone and the stone was installed without a mortar joint. We used the same mantel as in the original stone fireplace.

For more questions about transforming your existing brick or drywall fireplace, please feel free to call us or send and email

North Star Stone, Inc.
Libertyville, IL
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Cancork Floor Inc.
Nicely said. Too often, in the flooring industry, we hear the horror stories of what went wrong with a product. Because Cancork/Icork Floors offer a specialty product, we hear it far too often - "Your product must be defective, because it is doing X,Y and Z". That's when I have to explain that it isn't the floor but the installer that is/was the problem. Always investigate the person you are hiring. Cheap does not always mean economical! If it has to be re-done, your savings turn into a nightmare! If in doubt, GET IT IN WRITING. If the contractor is sound, then they will have no problem with signing a contract. If s/he starts to get nervous about caveats, etc. then you are probably wasting your time and your money by hiring them.
   December 18, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Ken Lewis
This is such an obvious point when you are working within a profession and see the inferior offerings of some within your industry. And, it obviously gives a bad name to all who are associated with the line of work.

Interestingly, it is hard to see the value in paying more to get the job right the first time when dealing outside of one's industry. For example, I do Internet Marketing for Interior Designers and other small businesses. I constantly hear designers caution homeowners to not waste time and money and mistakes in DIY projects, yet they then try to do DIY marketing. They come up against the very same issues that they were warning others to avoid!

It is always best to find a reference you can trust. Testimonials on the company's website are too easy to manipulate. Ask friends for referrals, and always side with quality over price. Every business needs to make money, so if you cut costs you are encouraging the provider to cut corners.
1 Like   December 18, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I have a labor-only quote from my contractor. It's up to me to manage my budget on materials. This way I have control over all the specifics. I have chosen which items to splurge on, and which I can do at lower cost. It works best for my personality to do it this way.
1 Like   December 18, 2012 at 2:46PM
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Woodcliffe Design
I encourage people to get recommendations on a contractors quality of work from a designer, architect or other trade professional. There are plenty of contractors people assume are of better quality because of the higher estimate. I've had client's show me pictures of a contractor's project they were considering hiring and knew immediately they would not deliver a custom product - a DIY store product installed is not a custom job. As professionals, our recommendation of contractors reflects our level of quality in the product we deliver to our client's as are our referrals of professionals we trust to maintain that level. Always consider the source of the recommendation as well as the price.
   December 18, 2012 at 3:40PM
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