3 Reasons Your Contractor Ghosted You

Home Improvement Advice / How to Hire a Contractor

Adam Helfman

Adam Helfman

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No one likes to be ghosted, especially by a home contractor. Here are three reasons why you might be getting the cold shoulder.

You have heard about being ghosted in the dating world but being ghosted in the home improvement world? Yeah, it happens. An interesting article in the New York Times described a common situation when dealing with contractors. Being ghosted. The writer’s story goes like this:

“Dinnertime on a Sunday is not my favorite hour to discuss home improvement projects with a prospective contractor, but there I was, eagerly showing this one my basement. I was willing to take what I could get. Of the three I called, he was the only one who showed up.

He seemed promising, spending almost 2 hours in my basement measuring walls and floors, listening as I explained in exhaustive detail my plans to replace the floor and ceiling, install lighting and paint the knotty pine panel walls...

By the time he left, I was smitten. All I had to do now was wait for his bid. A week went by with no word. I chalked it up to his busy schedule. He seemed excited about my project. How could he turn me down?

At then end of week two, I nudged him with a cheery reminder email.

Nothing.

Another week went by and I sent another note. This time he responded. I eagerly opened the email only to find a half page proposal with scant information, just a vague bullet list with a dollar sum at the bottom. When I asked for more detail and references, I never heard from him again.

I had been ghosted, and I’d barely made it past the first date. Did I do something wrong?”


So what’s going on here? Why do contractors ghost their clients? Here are three reasons why:

Cherry Picking

Home improvement is booming and people are spending huge amounts on projects. At the same time, there is a severe skilled labor shortage. This means contractors can cherry pick the projects they want.

Having designs in mind ahead of time, or even drawings can really expedite the process, saving a lot of time for the contractor and give you an edge over other projects they may be considering.

It’s Them Not You

Contractors are not just cherry picking projects; they are also picking their customers more carefully. Homeowners who have only a vague idea of what they want from their project can be seen as a hassle.

The amount of time a contractor needs to invest with planning in these scenarios is often significant, and in some cases unpaid.

Penny Pinchers

They are also looking for other warning signs – penny pinching, fickle clients are tough to manage. Clients who want to “chip in” and do their own work expose the contractor to unnecessary liability and the potential for delays and extra costs.

You’ll get better results if you know what you want, and what you are willing to spend on it, and share that with your prospective contractor. Let them lead the way when offering to chip in.

So here are some Hire it Done approved strategies to avoid being ghosted by your contractor:

  1. Be prepared – have a specific design and budget in mind and share it with the contractor.
  2. Know what’s next – ask them when you can expect a proposal or bid.
  3. Hold them accountable – contact them the day you are expecting the proposal, and make sure it is still coming.
  4. Be honest with yourself – If you are not satisfied at this point, are you willing to wait it out for this contractor, or should you keep looking? Send another note and then decide.
  5. Repeat if necessary – It can be frustrating, BUT! If you settle, you’ll be sorry.  

In today’s market, you really have to view the initial appointment similar to a first date, and isn’t it better to break up on the first date? You don’t want a contractor that’s just not that into you or vice versa. Communication is now and has always been the key to a successful home improvement project.

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