Finding the Perfect Contractor can be as Serious as Marriage

Research on the stranger renovating your bathroom is vital.

I perused countless magazines and tacked numerous pictures onto my idea board. I spent years planning for this day. All I needed was the perfect man.

“Do you know anyone? Come on, give me a name,” I pleaded with friends.

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Was I after a husband? Puh-leeze. That would’ve been infinitely easier. I needed someone to gut my horrifically outdated bathroom down to the studs and transform it to the exact specifications of the blueprint in my head.

But a dream project don’t mean a thing if the right contractor won’t give you a ring. Think it’s frustrating waiting for that text after a first date? Try gutting it out when none of your top three choices will offer so much as: “Sorry, I’m not taking on any new projects right now.” 

As days turned into weeks, I offered my ’80s-style kitchen cabinets the reassurance they craved (“I think you’re pretty”), without mentioning that I’d spent the morning looking for younger, prettier replacements. And when someone finally did come around, I fretted over the horror stories about AWOL contractors. “He put up the drywall in the kitchen and the dining room, and he didn’t come back for a week—three days without a call,” lamented a friend from Gladwyne, who, quite honestly, should’ve been connected enough to find someone reliable. “He was recommended,” she assured me. “I didn’t just open the telephone book and pick out a name.”

Most, if not all, contractors ask for a portion of the money up front. For major projects, this can translate into a hefty sum. So I wanted to know more about the stranger who’d be working in my home for the next several weeks. After I narrowed my choices down to two candidates, I checked for criminal backgrounds and made sure they were registered. I only Googled my husband after our third date.

My husband is still dumbstruck over the cost of our bathroom remodel, not to mention the amount of effort I put into it. “Do you know what we actually do in there?” he posed.

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“Any family issue that someone could have happened to my contractor while we got our kitchen redone,” a Malvern-based acquaintance told me. “But we were warned. Friends with a similar type of project told us to double the amount of time the contractor thought it would take to complete.”

Did I really need the portrait-style enclave or the decorative border pieces? 

Yes. And I needed nothing short of the perfect man to make it happen.

King of Prussia’s Katie Bambi-Kohler enjoys every second she spends in her new bathroom—even though it doesn’t have the intricate Venetian sunset mosaic … or a bidet. Visit her at and follow @chzstkprincess on Twitter.

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