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Author Topic: Lists of Forums with help on home contractor problems (roof, heating, etc.)  (Read 5075 times)

mouser

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One of the things i've been doing for the 1929 condo building i live in is hire and supervise contractors to do work on the building.  This has included major heating/radiator/boiler work, a new roof, windows, electrical, etc.

In a perfect world it would be easy to find and hire a good contractor and entrust them to do a good job.  The reality is far from that.  I've found you have to educate yourself, check their work carefully, and be skeptical.

In some areas you may be able to educate yourself sufficiently with a book or two, but in other areas, getting some advice and second opinions from experts can be invaluable.  But it's not easy to find an expert in real life to give you a second opinion about another contractor's work.  This is where some of the specialty contractor forums can be invaluable.

I wanted to start us of with 2 forums that i have found to be particularly helpful -- with professional contractors willing to take a look at photos and comment on them and offer advice.

I'm hoping others here will add more.


As good as these sites are, they are basically forums where contractors talk to one another and are sometimes willing to help homeowners with questions and advice.  It does make me wonder if the time isn't ripe to try to create a website focused on providing objective support for these specialty areas.  Doing that would require figuring out a way to pay the contractors who participate in such discussions -- but it's a service that people should probably be willing to pay for gladly.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2010, 04:25:49 PM by mouser »

steeladept

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There are already a couple free sites out there.  They use reviews from customers (unfortunately due to the way it is done, they are mostly bad reviews, but not all).  As we have discussed in other places, some of these are subject to "loading" either by the company or a truly disgruntled customer, but they give you a starting point.  The two I have run across (not particularly fond of either btw) are Service Magic and Angel-something or other (can't find it now to link but it may be a local service for Pittsburgh, PA).  Service Magic is heavily advertised and very intrusive.  They tend to send spam to you about potential upcoming projects and vendors they push for them, even if you don't say you have anything.  I can tell you, though, that there are A LOT of sites like what you propose, but none that really have taken off because it is so fractured, and with so many specialties, so many vendors, and so many people with different ideas of what makes a vendor good, that it may prove impossible.  Just a few thoughts.

NOTE:  During this writeup I have also found out they (Service Magic) are in litigation for false advertising.  They state that they vet vendors before listing whereas they do not, they list any vendor willing to pay them according to the suit- so you may want to steer clear there.  I don't know either way personally.

Second Note:  I removed the link in case there are issues with Service Magic.  If you want to go there, a simple Google search will bring them up.

mouser

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Quote
they use reviews from customers

this is very different from what i am talking about.  i'm not talking about a place to get opinions of specific contractors.

i'm talking about forums where experts can advise homeowners about questions, problems and issues with work done by contractors.  these are places where you can go to get an expert second opinion after a contractor has finished some work which you find questionable -- or places you can go to get some expert assessment to help you figure out what you need to pay attention to when hiring a contractor.

steeladept

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Ah, that IS something new.

mwb1100

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Heating, especially Steam Heating Contractor Talk: http://www.roofing.com/

I think you accidentally put in the wrong link here (it's the same as the one for the 2nd bullet)

Angel-something or other

Do you mean Angie's List?  I haven't pulled the trigger on trying it yet - I wish they had some sort of limited trial, just to be able to get an idea of what the information is like.

barney

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@mwb1100,

Some time back I got a one-year (trial) membership to Angie's list.  Didn't accomplish much - no significant activity in my area, therefore I didn't subscribe when the year was up - so I cannot speak to actual functionality, but the trial membership may still be available.  If you don't see it on the site, try a search:  if memory serves, I found the trial via Google.  The results probably would be better in an area with greater population density  :o.

[Edited for typo(s).]
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 07:11:02 PM by barney »

zridling

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Sounds like a job for Canadian Mike Holmes, who sometimes comes our way south. Check out his extensive forums:
http://www.mikeholme...com/phpbb3/index.php

They might lead you exactly where you want to go. For example, see this very similar discussion:
http://www.mikeholme...php?f=10&t=34507 (must be logged in)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 08:46:09 PM by zridling »

Fred Nerd

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This is interesting since I'm a carpenter by trade.
I've just come back from a holiday to USA (nice country BTW) and one thing I found out was that tradesmen can get a license in a week course.
In Australia we have to do a 4 year apprenticeship and our work has to be to a pretty good standard to pass. Some people do slip through the cracks, but you can generally guarantee that an Australian tradesman knows his job.

I agree that the internet is very thin on building information; I've often tried to get some tips on specific jobs I hadn't done before, but haven't found anything really worthwhile.

Maybe I should start a website. Between myself and my friends in other trades, I can answer all common problems.
@mouser, if you want, PM me the questions and I'll give you my opinion. You have different heating systems over there, and there are a lot of differences in other things, but I might be able to help.

4wd

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In Australia we have to do a 4 year apprenticeship and our work has to be to a pretty good standard to pass.

Now if only they taught the buggers that you don't need to broadcast a radio for a 500 metre radius because you'll never hear it over the power tools anyway.

Apologies if you are the exception.

:)

steveorg

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This site is good for do-it-yourself repair help with major appliances.
http://fixitnow.com

zridling

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I subscribe to The Family Handyman magazine and it's been a great resource of tips over the years. Worth every penny.
http://www.familyhandyman.com/
 
_______________
PS: Thanks Steveorg, for the Fixitnow site. Very nice!

Fred Nerd

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In Australia we have to do a 4 year apprenticeship and our work has to be to a pretty good standard to pass.

Now if only they taught the buggers that you don't need to broadcast a radio for a 500 metre radius because you'll never hear it over the power tools anyway.

Apologies if you are the exception.


:)

Haha, I am certainly no exception. I bought one of those awesome Makita stereos, and plug the iPod into it, crank it right up and I can hear it nicely in the breaks between using power tools.
Just think of it this way: you have to put up with it for the day or 2 we are working next door, for us its every day of our life. Our job is way underpaid and involves a lot of unpleasant-ness (dust, noise, fumes, banged thumbs, unpaid bills etc) so think about that next time you hear a radio for a day or 2.

BTW, Normally I work in rural areas where no-one else can hear me, so I'm reasonably innocent of annoying people :)

mouser

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zridling

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AndyM

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Just stumbled across this:

http://www.diychatroom.com/