An Ode to My Family Man {Hiring a contractor who understand the pile of diapers by your back door}

Why you should hire a contractor who won't schedule meetings during his kids' bedtime, talks on the phone with screaming babies in the background, and roots against your kid on the football field.

Earlier this week, Mike and I celebrated our 11th . Yes, that's right. DOUBLE Valentine's Day. While I won't take this entire post explaining what this is ( the Westfield Patch wrote about us several years ago sums it up perfectly), I will tell you it is a very special and momentous day in our relationship that Mike created for us, and only us during our senior year at .  

He is such a sweet guy, and while you wouldn't necessarily think this pick-up truck driving, tape measure toting, constantly cell-phone talking man was the sweet and sensitive type, he truly does have a multitude of facets, and when it comes down to it, he's a romantic and a family man.  

I wanted to write a special post to thank him, and to celebrate this side of my husband that only those privileged enough to work closely with him get to see.

Now, before he gets all upset with me that I'm sharing his mushy side in a forum where his very manly friends, and past and potential clients may read about it (sorry, honey), I'll have you know this actually relates directly to his construction business. Hear me out...

When you hire a home improvement contractor, you are essentially asking a complete stranger to move in with you. He will be the first person you see in the morning (early start times + fast-paced schedules = jobs finished on time), and the last person you speak to at night (everyone does their best thinking about the project after dinner, before bed...).  He will see you with no makeup, yelling at the dog, dancing to the Wiggles with your children, and drinking from the milk carton.  

You will be handing over your house keys and a large portion of your savings to this man. He will be your sounding board, your battering ram, and your greatest confidante during your project. I'd say it's more than essential that you not only get along with this guy, but that you can trust and relate to him. Enter Mike Mroz, the family man.

Mike is a contractor. He is a father of two.  He is a husband, a carpenter, and an entrepreneur. He is a football enthusiast, and enjoys a good "How It's Made" on the Discovery Channel. He'll also watch 'The Real Housewives' with me (sorry again, honey). He is a lot of things, but what comes through loud and clear, is that he is a family man. He loves his family and we come first. And so, I present to you, The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Family Man:

Pro: He understands when your children are running around, screaming and singing in their footed jammies, doing their post-dinner, pre-bedtime lap around the house during your design meeting. This is, in fact, a regular occurrence for him. I love the stories he tells me about the clients' children when he gets home for the night! There was the one who refused to keep their clothes on, there was the one who asked 5,000 questions, there was the one who drew all over the design contract... adorable!

Con: He will not schedule meetings with you between 5 and 7:30 p.m. so that he can be home to put his own kids to sleep. You can plead and beg, but this is sacred time for him.

Pro: He won't bat an eye when you "accidentally" hang up on him two or three times because your kid got a hold of your phone.

Con: You may hear screaming, Elmo's World, or a baby crying in the background while he's on a call with you. Occupational hazard of having a home office. Sidenote: Mike is incredible at multi-tasking and at zoning things out. You may hear the screaming baby, but I promise you it hasn't distracted him in the least.

Pro: He won't judge you for the bag of dirty diapers by your back door, or the piles and piles of unread mail, magazines, and laundry lying around the house. He may even suggest some innovative design ideas to combat these. Hello, adorable and functional mail slots in the new mudroom! Built-in laundry chute! An extra hook hidden by the changing table for those dirty diaper garbage bags? Genius! Only personal experience can yield ideas like this. Necessity is the mother of invention...

Con: Stop by his home office on short notice, and you may have to sit through a brief meeting with one of his own children on his lap. You'd be amazed at how much you can get done with a child on your lap with the Sesame channel of YouTube on in the background!

Pro: He understands and works towards hard deadlines, like your new baby's due date and the start or vacation schedule of the school year. After all, he is a product of the Westfield school system himself. He also completed two renovations of his own - one conveniently finishing only weeks before the arrival of our second son. Trust me, he knows about urgency!

Con: Your kids and our kids may be in the same year at school. This may not sound like a con, but wait until they are on opposing sports teams and meet on the field at Kehler Stadium... let's just say Mike's not going to stand by and quietly cheer for his kids. He's got a competitive side. Can you see the fog horn now?

Pro: He understands how today's family lives and uses their home. Michael Robert Construction is a design/build company, and he is able to offer so many valuable design ideas for your home based on what he sees working for our family and the multitude of other local families he's worked with. He understands that you want to be able to see what's happening in the living area while you're standing at the kitchen sink, and the importance of a first floor playroom, and the need for endless storage in your basement and attic for all the wedding gifts and baby paraphernalia you've accumulated. 

Con: He may suggest things like zip lines, and man caves, and that extra large walk-in closet with extra tall cubbies for the knee-high boots. Sorry about that "only the necessities" bare bones wish list and budget you had... remodeling should be fun and a little luxurious too, right? He knows what makes the family happy!

Pro: He understands the sanctity, privacy, safety, and importance of your family and your home, and he will treat you and yours as if they are his own.

Con: There really is no con for this one. I honestly can't think of a better asset to look for in a contractor.

So there you have it. The good, the bad, and the ugly of hiring a family man as your general contractor. I think the pros really outweigh the cons.  What do you think? 

For more information about Ellie, Mike, and their business, Michael Robert Construction, please visit http://www.michaelrobertconstruction.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

EP&L Electric Co. March 02, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Great article Ellie:) Here's another Pro...If he's a family man then he is likely to have more years of industry experience. You always want to check your contractor through the Department of Consumer Affairs though: https://newjersey.mylicense.com/verification/ "...extra tall cubbies for knee-high boots". Westfield moms have style :)
Jennifer Ryan March 03, 2012 at 03:54 AM
such a cute article! And very true...Mike has WAY more pros than cons anyday. I love that he won't take meetings during his precious moments with your adorable babies!


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