The First Rule of Renovation Club

Personal information obscured. Dates are current and the company is known in the area.

There IS a renovation club! If you have ever paid a contractor or handyperson to complete a job, you’re part of it.

I recently broke the first rule of renovation club. I knew better! This isn’t my first rodeo, and I’m mildly disgusted with myself for not following the rule. But as the saying goes, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” Suffice it to say, I learned this time.

RULE #1: No matter what the documents say, verify the documents yourself. It doesn’t matter if the dates are current on the insurance documents. Call and check. Do your homework. It doesn’t matter if the contractor card has the state seal and looks official. Call and check (or go online and check). It doesn’t matter if you need to have uncomfortable conversations with the contractor because you can’t find the information to back up what you’ve been told or shown. DO IT. You’ll end up having more difficult conversations in the end if you don’t.

This time, it was a low-stakes job and no real harm was done. The low stakes were part of the reason I relied on the documents and allowed work to begin before verifying the documents myself. Before long, I noticed some dishonesty, some inconsistency, and things that just didn’t add up, and that prompted me to check the veracity of what I had been told and shown. You know what’s coming. The policy had lapsed and the license had expired.

What followed was a difficult conversation. I asked the contractor to leave the job, and there was bit of Jerry Springer-ish drama (not on my part). Sadly, the work was pretty good, and I think he needed the job. But I can’t work with someone who willingly employs deception for gain. I’m building a team, and that’s not the kind of team member I’m looking for.

Let this be a cautionary tale, and remember rule number one. No matter what the documents say, verify the documents yourself.

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