6 Tips for Choosing a Contractor to Repair Plaster Walls and Ceilings
If you own an older home (especially a pre-war house), you are likely to have plaster walls or ceilings. The operative word here is "older", so you may have plaster repair high on your list of weekend projects. But what if you're not the handyman-type, or the job is simply too involved to handle independently? In that case, you'll need to hire a contractor to fix that cracked plaster wall or ceiling.
Please don't rush the decision.
Your historic plaster is a treasure and should be treated accordingly. We've been in the business for many years and we've seen many different types of contractors on the job. Thus, we've put our heads together to create 6 surefire tips for choosing a contractor:
1. Ask around
Do you have friends with older homes? Ask if they've had their plaster repaired. Did the contractor take the time and consideration to repair the damaged plaster or did he simply rip it out and replace it with drywall. You want a contractor who appreciates the value of plaster in a home. Your friends and family will give you honest, no-nonsense feedback.
2. The more the merrier
Don't be afraid to seek estimates from several different contractors. Ask for references (if they refuse to give references, this is a good sign that you need to walk away) and follow up.
3. Background checks
Put on your Dick Tracy cap and do some sleuthing. Is the contractor accredited by the Better Business Bureau (you can do a quick and easy search at BBB's website)? Is he a member of a trade association? Is he insured? Is he trained in plaster restoration? How long has the business existed? Does he have any complaints logged with the Office of Consumer Protection (do a quick Google search for your local CPA and follow up.)?
4. Do Your Homework
Scout around the world wide web and research plaster repair. It's more of an art than you might think, and it's important that your contractor is doing things correctly. Plus, if you come to the negotiating table with a thorough knowledge base -- you'll impress the contractor if you know the difference between a scratch coat and finish coat -- you'll feel much more confident.
5. Beware the Low Bid
Be cautious of bids that come in much lower than other estimates. The contractor may talk a good talk, but these too-good-to-be-true bids often have a way of incurring "unforeseen expenses" as the job progresses. In the long run, the extra money you pay up front for quality, timely work will pay for itself (think of all the money you'll save on ibuprofen without the headaches!).
6. Trust Your Instinct
Do you get a bad feeling from the guy standing in your living room? Listen to that inner voice. Communication and trust are a huge part of the contractor/homeowner relationship -- don't get stuck with someone you don't feel good about, even if they pass all the above tests.
We understand that your home is probably the biggest investment you'll ever make. We also understand that you want to maintain that home, not just to increase value but also to look beautiful.
Once you've hired the right man or woman for the job, be sure they know about Big Wally's Plaster Magic for reattaching loosened plaster to lath. You and your contractor won't be disappointed.