Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

I can hardly wait for you to mess up, Mr. Contractor, so I can have some leverage on you!

Canadian Contractor Capacity Professional

MoneySense magazine once published a list of the TOP TEN THINGS YOUR CONTRACTOR WON'T TELL YOU. Well, the heck with that! Here's our TOP TEN THINGS YOUR HOMEOWNER CUSTOMER WON'T TELL YOU.

Editor’s note:

Way back in 2008, we didn’t have this online forum for CANADIAN CONTRACTOR readers.  Just the print book and a website with no capacity to receive comments. Consequently, the best pair of Top Ten Lists we ever published never got an online airing.  Six years later, it’s time.  NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

Here are the two lists.  Feel free to comment!



(This was a “consumer protection” article)

1. I love it when you, the homeowner, is disorganized

2. A home inspector can be your best friend

3. I have absolutely no professional qualifications

4. I may have pulled your quote out of thin air

5. We “strong, silent type” of contractors can be real trouble

6. You can save a bundle by pitching in as I work

7. If I can start tomorrow, you’ll hate my work

8. Every job needs a formal contract

9. Permits are not optional

10. You’ll forget I was ever here


Canadian Contractor magazine’s ROB KOCI responds:


1. My best friend is a lawyer

2. I have no intention of using you, but I want your detailed drawings so I can shop my project around

3. Somehow, I will find an excuse not to pay out that 10 per cent holdback

4. I am going with you because your price is so low compared to others that you obviously made a mistake. And I DON’T CARE!

5. Actually, I have no idea how I am going to finance this.

6. I am all smiles now, but I am bi-polar.

7. I can hardly wait for you to mess up, so I can have some leverage on you.

8. I love your work, but I’ll be damned if I will let you know. Because I am still not going to pay that holdback.

9. I’m dumb like a fox.

10. That door you just installed? It’s twice the price of the one I was expecting – and I know you made a mistake. THANKS!




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6 Comments » for I can hardly wait for you to mess up, Mr. Contractor, so I can have some leverage on you!
  1. Matt says:

    OUCH. I think for the most part that’s pretty harsh.
    Though there are definitely customers out there that have some of those qualities. I have been fortunate enough to not run into many of them (I’ve been at the tiling career for 4 years now). Most customers pay right away and don’t expect me to give them something for nothing, though I do at times. My original quote doesn’t change as I keep it high enough to equate for those so called “extras” that ALWAYS happen on every job. We as contractors should know that.
    Anyway, this article will bring on a lot of controversy, but I’m assuming, mostly agreements.
    We should try stop expecting customers to screw us over… then maybe they won’t
    Good work, good attitude and a good finish is what most expect. Just give them that and you’ll find you won’t be hunting them down for the final payment.

  2. I agree with the comment above. But I also feel that you need to screen your customers before you decide to do business with them. If you’re getting ‘bad vibes’ or something doesn’t feel right, it’s sometimes better to walk away, and save yourself a big headache.

  3. Larry Marchand says:

    Unfortunately I have had experience with a customer who surprisingly did have an emotional or mental breakdown – it ended tragically. At times after the project became a legal battle, I felt like my personal safety was at risk. Even though I did not know it would turn out the way it did, I WAS warned by a couple of people not to work for the guy because he was unpredictable – but, I knew his wife and she seemed good, and I wanted the project. It turned out that the wife’s reasonable demeanor did nothing to calm the situation down, as it spiraled out of control – the point is, I should have heeded the warning and just walked away, rather than getting excited about doing a new project.

  4. Gail says:

    I agree with Matt. I firmly believe you create your own reality, and if you keep expecting people to be jerks, you will attract mostly jerks!

    99.5% of our customers the past 13+ years have been great. Recently a wonderful customer referred her aunt, who turned out to be a very negative person. She didn’t text or email, her old-style answering machine didn’t work, (she insisted I was not leaving messages when I was) and she rarely answered her phone. When she did answer, it was a 20 minute tirade about the latest perceived mistreatment. We did a small electrical job, which we reduced the price on when she made a location change. The wire run turned out to be old 220, and she didn’t want to go back to the more expensive option to wire properly, even with a credit. After listening to her whine about how every contractor screws her, I wrote a check for the value of that item and sent it to her. Took her about a week to cash it, likely because she thought it should have been more. Of course, we didn’t have to refund anything at all, it was a courtesy. And that will be the last thing we do for her.

    I often thought it would be nice to have a secret web site just for contractors to list toxic customers, so we could warn each other.

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