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Ask a Contractor: Insider Answers to Your Questions

We bought the drinks. In return, we got to drill the man in the work boots.

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The guy: Hartman Kable, 37
The town: Seattle
The bar: King's Hardware

Why do jobs always seem to take longer than expected?
Most contractors are guilty of "optimistic salesmanship," which gets them a foot in the door. But nobody wants to admit how long it takes to do a good job. It's embarrassing, actually.

How much do you mark up materials?
15 percent. And I charge $35 to $45 an hour.

Who's easier to deal with, women or men?
Women express their appreciation more. But anyone who gives the crew a six-pack at the end of the day is good by me.

What's your best advice for anyone going through a major reno?
Move out during it. Although it'll cost more up front, we get done faster when we don't have to clean up every day.

What stresses you out?
Not getting paid promptly. I love it when a homeowner asks me for an invoice.

What do you hate to hear from a client?
"Why does it look like this?" I don't even know what that means.

What's the definitive tool that says you're legit?
A Festool Track Saw. Only high-class carpenters carry those.

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