In my career as a contractor I’ve tried to live by a few mottos, one of them being “leave it better than I find it.”
I can proudly report I’ve mostly lived up to that challenge. I can also report (not proudly) that many contractors I’ve worked with (or hired as subs on my projects) don’t exactly see it the same way I do. That’s why, when I do find a good contractor, I sink my figurative teeth into them and don’t even bother with anybody else.
But when I interview them or work with new contractors I of course start with price and references or reputation, but I look beyond that whenever possible. I’m looking for what NFL commentators call “intangibles,” the qualities beyond stats that make a player stand out.
Home Improvement Intangibles
What’s a home improvement intangible? Well, if I see a customer’s newspaper on the walk up to their front door I pick it up–then don’t make a big stinkin’ show about it. A jobsite left clean and orderly at the end of every day is nice. Trash that is removed–not left for me to manage–is great.
The list is endless. But what got me started is that I got some good intangible work from my electrician last time he was wiring a job for me. He had to rough-in (i.e. run new wire to) some new lights, both on a porch and in a basement. Typically–and infuriatingly I hasten to add–he’d leave the wires capped and curled neatly in the box awaiting the final light fixture to arrive when all other work was completed. This time, he hardwired a few basket lights similar to these instead of leaving me in the dark. He also energized a few plugs so I could plug tools in instead of running cords all over the place. This saved me hours over the course of the project.
He didn’t have to and he didn’t charge me extra. But if you’re looking for service, look past price to the intangibles: they may be hard to quantify but they sure do add up.