Didn’t think I’d be saying this so soon, but the steps are (have been) done (for three days now)!

I think we may have found the one reliable contractor in NYC.

Or maybe we are at the beginning of a streak.

It was off to a shaky start. We chose this contractor because he not only had reasonable rates, but because he was the only one who was actually using material that would make our front steps look like they weren’t just re-paved with new concrete. He said he could completely replace the old steps and put in new brick and granite tiles.

The shaky start was our healthy mistrust of contractors thus far coupled with the fact that he showed up almost 1.5 hours late to bring us the contract and collect the deposit. This was about a week ago.

When he finally showed up, we had already sent a series of annoyed we-are-leaving-in-exactly-3-minutes text messages.

He apologized and explained that there was crazy traffic on the highways, which he thought were going to be faster than the side streets, and he had spent time driving around to stores to get us samples of the granite and brick color options but they were all closed.

This is not like me, he insisted. I understand how you feel and I can assure you I’m very professional.

I tried to see if he would agree to collect the deposit on the day he started, knowing his answer would be no. He did agree to let us put whatever we wanted in the contract to make us feel better.

I asked him again how long he thought it would take, even though he had told my boyfriend 2-3 days already.

Listen, I’m going to get your steps done as fast as I can. It usually only takes 2-3 days, but lets say a week to be safe. It’s in both of our best interests to get this done as soon as possible.

Well, we had never heard a contractor actually say that before, even though that is what we always assumed should be the thought process.

I unfolded my arms.

My boyfriend, remaining calm and rational through this, suggested that we give the contractor a 30 day window to complete it.

30 days??

Both of them put up their hands.

It won’t take me more than one week, I can assure you, the contractor said.

This is just a formal precaution for us, my boyfriend assured me. This is a reasonable amount of time to put in a contract.

Okay. I took a deep breath. I’m okay with that. What day can you start?

When do you need it?

How soon can you start? We are worried about the leaking most of all.

I can start as soon as Thursday.

And be finished by next Thursday?

Yes, definitely by then.

Okay. We signed the contract, gave him the check, and confirmed a time for Thursday.

He showed up early.

I wasn’t there, but kept hearing great reports from my boyfriend all day. He had a crew of guys who removed all the old brick, filled it in with concrete, then a layer of tar, then a layer of plastic, pretty much allaying our biggest concern about the leakage.

photo 8

They worked all day and the contractor told my boyfriend they would be back tomorrow and stay longer. He and my boyfriend consulted about which colors would work best and they settled on dark red brick with gray granite on top.

They also shortened our steps to an appropriate, less steep height – 8 inches instead of the 9ish inches they originally were. Hopefully now our mailman will be happy to climb up them.

The next afternoon, I wasn’t home again. I got a call from my boyfriend saying they were done.

Wait, did you say done?

Yep, they finished.

Wait send me pictures.

Sending now.

Oh, wait, that means we have to pay him… I took the checkbook…

Crap, thought so.

Wow that’s amazing, I was not expecting them to be done. Hmmm, would he be willing to come meet me where I am and I will give him the check.

I’ll see and call you back.

They agreed to drive out to meet me for the check. In the meantime, the pictures came through:

photo 3

They look amazing!! Wait, did they also re-pave the front area? (Which had a big gash from the gate opening and closing)

Yep, and patched a few holes on the side wall and filled in a hole so now the other gate door functions normally.

photo 6

No way!

Yeah, I know. I already told him we are going to call him again.

And I did the same when he came to meet me to pick up the check.

This was pretty much the most stress free, smooth, experience we’ve had with a contractor. How refreshing to work with someone who not only does an awesome, quick job (and totally left the place pristine!), but also takes total pride in his work. He wanted those stairs to look as nice as we did.

My boyfriend said he told the contractor a bit about our past issues with contractors and how that has made us a bit wary.

A few bad fish ruins the whole pond, he responded.

I think we found a good fish!

photo (5)


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