Well, we’ve officially hit spring as of March 20th.  It’s hard to believe, and if you’re like me, you’re starting to think about things like household projects that need to get done, or ones that you want to have done.  When thinking about a non-tech related topic to cover in this month’s newsletter, home renovation came to mind.  Do you know a great contractor for home reno projects?  Read on….

A lot of people receive this newsletter; and there’s power in numbers.  For those that are homeowners, most of us probably have a story of a home project (either DIY or professionally done) that went either extremely well, or extremely poorly.  We would like to ask you to respond in one of two ways.  First, we’d like to do is compile a list of local contractors who are in Wisconsin who did an EXCEPTIONAL job on your home project.  Tell us what the project was, how they did, and what made them great.  Was there service impeccable?  Was it their attention to detail that made them great?  Was their price unbeatable?  What was it that made them great?  Once we have that list, we would like to share it with the group.  I imagine in the group this size, there are at least a few homeowners who are looking to do a project this year, don’t know a reputable contractor, and would genuinely appreciate a recommendation.  There are probably also a large number of homeowners who have done a project and would love to share their story, good or bad, with the group.


Here’s mine:  My wife and I bought our home in Oconomowoc in 2015.  It was ideal for us because our previous home did not have a finished basement, and when her family from Germany would come to visit, it was cramped in our previous home to say the least.  Our new home has a finished basement with a living area and a bedroom, but it didn’t have a bathroom in the basement.  About a year after moving in, we considered adding a bathroom.  It was plumbed for one already, which was nice.  We used Angieslist and called about 20 contractors to come and bid.  About half never called us back, about half of the remaining half called us and, sight unseen told us it would be “at least $25,000”.  We weren’t looking for anything extravagant.  A shower over tub, toilet and sink.  Nothing special, just functional for the two weeks a year it would get used by our guests staying in the basement bedroom.  $25,000 was way outside of our budget.  We had five contractors that actually did come to look at the space, take measurements, etc.  The lowest bid we got from them was $16,000.  Still outside of what we wanted to spend for two weeks a year worth of use.  It just didn’t make sense to spend that kind of money for that.  So we gave up.  A few months later, a high school friend of mine who lives in NC came to town for a visit.  He had a number of people over to his parents’ house where he was staying.  So I went to visit and struck up a conversation with his younger brother who told me all about all these home renovation projects he and his wife just recently had done.  Given the fact that I was just told a bathroom alone would be between $16K and $25K, I wondered if he was just rich or what?  How did he have all this work done?  So he told me about the contractor he used.  It was just one guy, by himself, and his name was Ron.  Ron was licensed, insured, bonded and legit.  I got Ron’s contact info and had him come to our home.  Ron said, “I do things a little differently.  I simply tell you how much labor will cost for me to do the project and I give you a list of materials.  YOU decide how high end or low end you want the materials to be, you buy the materials, I pick them up from the hardware store and simply bill you for my time.”.   WOW!  That was refreshing!  I couldn’t believe it when he said he would charge $4,000 in labor for this project.  I was blown away…..in a good way!  After I researched and purchased materials, he picked them up from the Menards, brought them to my house in his huge trailer. He completed the job in one week.  The materials cost a little less than $3,500 and the total project was $7,500 including permits…..less than HALF the next lower bid.  It passed inspection and it looks amazing!  Our guests have really enjoyed having their own space in the basement that includes a living area, bedroom and now a bathroom.  We are blessed to have guests come, but sometimes you just need a few hours of separation, right?  


I’d love to pass along Ron’s contact information, but he completed our project in 2016 and since then has built his own home way up in northern Wisconsin where he retired to.  But, if anyone else has a similar story, please share.


We are also curious to hear everyone’s disaster stories; whether it was a DIY gone wrong, or a contractor that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped.  Please share your stories.  Next month, if we get enough submissions, we will share the list of reputable and recommended contractors, as well as a couple of the stories people share.  If we love your story and we share it, we’ll send you a $50 Amazon Giftcard as a “Thank You”.


We could use recommendations of contractor who do: bathrooms, kitchens, fences, patios, and just general carpentry.  Let us know who you know!


Talk to you next month!