So, with the party finished, I began looking for a contractor. I had three come look at the place, with my floor plans all printed up. Because OBVIOUSLY it went into CAD the moment I considered buying it, to see how I could fix it up. Thus with floorplans in hand, my potential contractors looked it over.
The first was Al, who lives down the street from my in-laws and had come highly recommended. He was very nice, clearly experienced, and had done a kick-ass job on his own house, which I envied regularly when we went over for family dinners. I was rooting for him from the start, because hiring a contractor seemed terrifying, based largely on massive amounts of money, ignorance, and blind trust, and I knew he had worked with people I knew and did not screw them over. Al was good. He looked it all over, jotted a lot of notes on my fancy plans, and sent me a pretty reasonable quote.
The second guy was a disconcertingly attractive man who I hoped was gay, because otherwise I was gonna waste a lot of time during the renovation hanging around hoping he would lift something heavy. I managed to make it through the meeting without laughing like a character in Gone With the Wind, but just barely. I was relieved when his bid came in exactly the same as Al's, and I didn't have to hire him and spend the renovation acting like a 7th grader. Hubby is probably relieved too, as he reads this. Hi, love. Sorry. My bad.
The third guy didn't even come in the building, I think - I had tried to check with everyone in advance that they had all the necessary insurances, which is a big deal when hiring someone. I didn't know if my building required it (many condos do), but I sure as hell required it. Should something hideous happen to my new floor that turned into something hideous on my new neighbor's ceiling, I wanted all the insurances. Every kind. Plus workers' comp. But third guy showed up and then mentioned that he had zero of that, which meant he had a loose organization of random, probably-skilled but definitely-uninsured workers who did not file proper permits and had no accountability should something go wrong. Nooooo, thank you, third guy. Don't let the Skytrack hit you on the way out.
So Al DellaFerra became my man. He assigned me a foreman, Leo, who I would hire for the next 50 years again and again. Leo can heal the sick and multiply loaves, as far as I'm concerned. Although I had a few irritating moments with these gentlemen, I can tell you now, after 3 years of arguing with contractors for a living on behalf of other people, it was a LOT less headache than most. But I'm getting ahead of myself.