The Handyman did it (in the shower stall, with a claw hammer …)

If you’ve ever played the classic game “Clue,” you’ll recognize that lead-in. If not, well, read on and you’ll understand …

Let’s start with a question. What if you hired someone to do a remodeling project, and then couldn’t use the finished space?

You’d be pretty upset. Justifiably so, too. And yes, it does happen.

We’re in the midst of replacing a shower stall project gone very wrong at a customer’s home. She had a “new” shower area built three years ago. Her family has yet to use it.

It’s really a disturbing story. She entrusted someone – probably a handyman-type person who said they could do it – and was completely misled. The lure, in all likelihood, was a very low price.

This operator put in a three-piece fiberglass “surround” stall. The finished project was anything but, though. The fiberglass housing was cracked. The drain pipe was cracked. The shower door didn’t seal. Leaks were everywhere.

In short, it was a mess. Worse yet, it probably added unneeded stress to the family of four. That additional shower space would have been nice on days when everyone is rushing to get ready for school and work. But it wasn’t available.

It’s an example of how, when people try to save money by choosing the cheapest contractor, they often end up spending more later to fix the job. Sometimes the old saying is true: You do get what you pay for.

Hiring a contractor or remodeler shouldn’t be an exercise in hope. Here are some pointers on finding someone who will, in all likelihood, do the job right the first time:
• Always – always – check references. Ask to speak to the most recent customer for whom they finished a project. Ask to speak to a customer from at least a year ago, to get an idea of how the work has held up and, if needed, how the contractor followed up.
• Check professional affiliations. Is the company a member of NARI or the Metropolitan Builders Association? These organizations have codes of ethics that members are sworn to follow.
• Check professional certifications, again through NARI or the MBA. Such certifications help ensure that the company exhibits professionalism and quality workmanship.
• Ask to see a project(s) that the company has done – real, live and in-person. A reputable contractor should be willing to arrange this.

We guarantee that our previously-mentioned customer will have her project done correctly this time. She’s picked out some nice elements: a custom-poured floor, new tile on the floor and walls, and a custom heavy glass shower door.

The customer isn’t doing things on the cheap – and that’s probably OK with her. She’s already taken a bath, figuratively speaking. At least this time, she’ll get the shower that she wanted all along.