Contractors dish dirt on referrals, job costs

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Recently we relayed a reader's request for help. She was having difficulty finding a contractor to do some work on her home in Vallejo, Calif. Seems she couldn't find people who would show up when they said they'd show up, charge what they said they'd charge, and do what they said they'd do. Our suggestion was to seek referrals from family, friends, co-workers, real estate agents and members of organizations to which she belonged. Our readers added Internet sites, homeowners associations and the Better Business Bureau to the list. Another reader suggested the National Association for the Remodeling Industry Web site. Not surprisingly, we also heard from contractors. Generally, they acknowledged the problem but offered a different perspective. There were some common themes revolving around time and money. One respondent was especially candid. He requested to remain anonymous. We invite our readers to walk a mile in his shoes. He writes: "I am a home-improvement/small jobs general contra...