Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. As a renovation or construction customer, I am interested in quality results and value, and as little disruption as possible. I believe that the greatest misunderstandings in a renovation project come about due to insufficient planning, and insufficient understanding of the process of a renovation, and how long certain types of work take, particularly to do high quality, professional, finished work. Be realistic when approaching a renovation project. While a good contractor makes every effort to minimize this, a renovation is going to be disruptive, and occasionally costs that cannot be predicted will occur, especially in older apartments where buildings have settled and walls and floor have gone off square or shifted. These conditions can often present challenges and additional costs if not carefully thought out and planned for. Your contractor is also responsible for abiding by the building rules, keeping the halls and public areas clean, not unduly disrupting the lives of your neighbors, and properly preparing the job by covering your valuable belongings and furnishings. All of this takes time to do well and correctly, but it is time well invested if at the end of the job, you are happy as a client, all your neighbors are still your friends, and the building management would allow the contractor to return to work in the building again because the contractor respected the building and other tenants as well as his client.
Plan well, take the time to work with your contractor in discovering any possible hidden costs, pay a fair price, and choose a contractor who will work with you to help you plan carefully.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
The more information you are able to provide to a contractor about the work you want to have done, the better and more accurate will be his estimate. If you want to have your apartment painted, include in your inquiry if the doors, windows, frames and trim are to be painted as well, or only the walls. Are the walls in good condition, or is major or minor repair involved? Are you using various custom colors, or one color throughout? Keep in mind that all painting has to be "cut in" with a brush around door frames, base boards, window frames etc, even white, as the trim has a different finish than the walls (usually semi gloss) and that a good painter will remove all switch and outlet covers before painting, and then replace them.
If you are renovating your bathroom, what size and type of tile is going to be installed? This can make a major difference in the cost of your project. Is the entire bathroom going to be tiled, or only the tub surround? Are you going to the ceiling, or just above the shower head? What is on the existing floor? Can it be tiled over, or does it need to be removed, leveled and a new substrate installed before tiling? Do you need plumbing and electrical work included in your estimate, or are you doing just "cosmetic" work.
The more detail you give your contractor, the more accurate will be your quote in terms of time and money.
Beware! the contractor who returns a quote with just a total price and no detailed break down of the cost of materials, labor, carting costs etc. You will be over paying, or equally as bad, underpaying, which you will pay for later.
Provide as much information as possible, and expect the same in return from your contractor.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. I take personal pride in doing my best work for each client. I give high attention to detail and finish to assure high quality, professional work. My livelyhood depends on satisfied clients. I take this responsibility very seriously.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. The satisfaction that comes from completing a job and transforming a lackluster and faded apartment into a clients vision. Seeing a smile on my clients face that tells me I have succeeded in producing what they wanted.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. What is it going to cost. - How long will it take.
In this economy particularly, everyone is concerned about this. But it is really not about cost, but value. We so often spend money today and receive low quality and value. While I have limited control over the cost of materials and the cost to do business, I do have have control over the quality of my work, and always try to give my clients high value for their investment.
I have over 25 years experience in renovations, and although ocassionally unforseen circumstances can arise, I hit my mark on the promised finished date on 99% of my estimates.