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Meet Joe. Joe is a general renovation contractor in South Africa, or as he likes to call himself, someone who can do “everything”. Joe has been in the business for more than 10 years, which number of course gives him some credibility with consumers. However, Joe is the type of renovation contractor you should rather steer clear of. This is why:

1.       When you call Joe and ask him to come and do a site evaluation for quote purposes, he sounds a little agitated and tells you he is “extremely busy” at the moment but will see when he can fit you in. Joe probably thinks the statement that he is very busy will gain him even more credibility because if he is busy, he must be good. Joe then promises you to call you back to make an appointment. Often he never does.

2.       In the event that you have managed to make an appointment with Joe for a specific date and time, Joe is often late. To add insult to injury, Joe does not call ahead if he is going to be late. He often does not even apologise when he finally gets to you, he just mumbles something about “traffic” and expects that to be that.

3.       Now you are doing the walk-through and you are trying to explain to Joe what you need done. However, Joe does not really listen or give you a chance to talk, because Joe is the expert, and as such, he gives himself the right to interrupt you all the time. Joe is Mr know-it-all, over-confident to the point of being domineering. Joe promises you the world. Nothing cannot be done. Nothing is a problem. Joe the renovation contractor can face any old challenge.

4.       When you start talking about pricing and payment method, Joe is quick to point out that he “has been in this game for a long time” and that he has been done in one too many times. He then demands an unreasonably high upfront payment, often to be paid immediately to “ensure that the project is booked”.

5.       Joe cannot or will not give you any legitimate and good references of previous or existing customers whom you can call to ask about Joe or his company. Sometimes Joe promises to send you through some numbers, but more often than not he never does, because he simply cannot.

6.       Joe does not want to sign a contract. He says his word is his honour. When you ask Joe about things like a workmanship guarantee or public liability insurance, he is often evasive. Joe tells you that he does not need to put a guarantee on his work; he is that good.

7.       If after all that, you have still decided to appoint Joe because he seems like a nice guy and tells you exactly what you want to hear, you make a booking with Joe to start the project on a specific date. You are excited, and moreover, you have paid Joe’s deposit a while ago already. But lo and behold, Joe does not report on the day. Sometimes he calls you a day before and tells you he won’t  make it, but promises he will start the next day, which often also does not materialise.

8.       Joe is often late to arrive on site in the mornings, and often leaves early.

9.       At the end of each day, Joe’s site looks like a hurricane went through it. There are tools lying everywhere, rubble is piling up in one corner, old food wrapping is scattered about.

10.   Not soon after starting the project, Joe starts asking for more money, because he “under-quoted” or does not want the project to suffer because of a lack of funds.

11.   Joe will never point out if there is a problem, and he will go to great lengths to hide any issues that do arise. Joe then gets angry when you point out a snag on the project. He says you are being unreasonable, and even often resorts to engaging in a shouting match.

Now there are many other characteristics that we can point out that make Joe and guys like him the no-go zone of renovation contractors, but we think you sort of get the drift. If your own Joe starts showing any of the above signs, walk away immediately. There are more than enough honest and good renovation contractors in South Africa that you don’t need to put up with the likes of Joe.