Recently, I have had three different contractors in to sister a joist in my house. All three said that they would get me a written estimate by today. One gave me an oral estimate which I told him to put in writing. I was thinking a quick email would be sufficient. He did not act like it was a problem. However, none of the three have given me a written estimate.

Also, I told all three contractors I wanted it done with a building permit. As I understand it, it is required by law but in practice you can skip it. I am thinking that the contractor does not want to deal with the building permit but that is just a guess on my part.

Note: that I am in the United States and I live in the state of New Jersey.

What am I doing wrong?

  • 2
    COVID made everyone realize how inadequate their houses were, so there's a huge building boom as everyone tries to step up. As such, good contractors don't have to scramble for scraps, they can pick and choose their work. Of course shabby contractors are always available, and they don't like permits. Or insurance premiums. Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


I don't believe this requires a permit, as it's merely repairing existing framing. There's really nothing to inspect, assuming the new board ends up where the old board was. (I've been proven wrong in this case, but you can probably pull the permit yourself to grease the wheels.)

You're not getting written estimates because contractors have more work than they can handle and they're not willing to commit the time to write one up until you're ready to sign. There's no motivation for them to do so. Show commitment and you'll get a contract.

  • I went to town hall and they said a permit is required. The law around here is that if you are making a structural repair then you need a permit. I am ready to sign with one contractor. Would you send him an email saying just that? Also if they are not willing to write it up, why do they say they are?
    – Bob
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 20:09
  • 2
    I said they're willing to write up a contract. Get the permit yourself and put their name on a check. Grease the wheels a bit.
    – isherwood
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 20:13
  • I cannot get the permit since they are doing the work. None of the three have put anything in writing yet. Two of the three have not given me a price. I think you are right, I need to grease the wheels a bit.
    – Bob
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 20:23
  • 3
    That all sounds frustrating. I'd be looking for help from some friends and DIY it.
    – isherwood
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 20:25
  • 3
    I believe you have made a" mountain out of a molehill" over this joist issue. As said above the contractors are all busy. They sense your trepidation over the issue so they would rather take the easier jobs with customers that are easier to deal with. As far as the building departments, They will tell you you need a permit for everything.
    – RMDman
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 4:35

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