Look at the tools
By Swizzle | Published
Takeaway: You can tell a lot about a builder by the way they organize themselves, their tools and even their correspondence. I often notice fellow builders with old beat up tools and I wonder to myself, are they old and beat up from use or from mistreatment? You might ask if it even matters, it does. It is hard to tell from a glance, but it is not hard to tell when you see them work. If a builder respects his tools he will respect his materials, those materials become your finished product. Old beat up tools might be loved and respected and carry a story of a lifetime of work; or, they might be a couple of years old and thrashed by a disrespectful hack. A good builder will regularly service, clean and repair his tools; this is important because working tools mean accuracy and timeliness. He will maintain full sets of his tools; this is important because having the right tools and the right size will mean things are done correctly with the right tool at the right time. A good builder will store his tools correctly and safely too; this is important for longevity of the tools and it it related to the first two points. This all points to how your project will be treated. So, ideally you will get a chance to inspect a builders tools prior to him starting on your project, perhaps see them on another project or have a small one done prior to a larger project. If this is not possible then another option is to look at how they present their bid and other related correspondence. I was once given a bid for some floor replacement by a builder who presented it on a scrap of paper torn from a pad. It was vague and was finalized with the line "likely overages of 5-10%". All I could think was who the hell is this guy. It showed a lack of respect for his business, for me as a homeowner and for the process. I didn't need to see this guys tools, I could see that he had little respect for construction and likely had little respect for the materials and the project. Another example is a carpenter I once hired showed up on the first day with a couple of bags of jumbled up tools. He struggled to find the tools he needed and many of them were damaged beyond use. He ended up using my tools and even taking several them with him. Scrutinize your builders, check their credentials and check their tools.