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Finding the Perfect Contractor can be as Serious as Marriage

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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.

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 I needed someone to gut my horrifically outdated bathroom down to the studs and transform it to the exact specifications of the blueprint in my head.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.

“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 cheesesteakprincess.blogspot.com and follow @chzstkprincess on Twitter.

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