Mark Newman Inc.
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Hired 9 times
28 years in business
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Custom Cabinet Building
Project: Build a custom-size bookcase to cover an entire wall in a spare bedroom in our home being converted into a library. Bottom Line Result: We are satisfied with the professional, custom construction and design of the bookcase. We were NOT satisfied with Mark's communication skills nor with his professionalism and courtesy. Moreover, his project management skills need substantial improvement. I provide lengthy explanations below so that, if you decide to retain Mark Newman, Inc., you will have done so from an informed perspective. What did Mark do well? Answer: The finished bookcase is beautiful and fulfills our objectives very nicely. Mark's assistant, Edding, constructed and assembled most of the bookcase and transported it to our home; Mark assisted Edding with its installation, which required two days. In What Areas Could Mark Improve? 1. Mark Needs to Improve His Communication Skills. Throughout the project, we learned that Mark is not a very good communicator EITHER with the client OR with his Subcontractor, Edding. a. Lack of Communication with the Client. We first met with Mark in early May to discuss the project. A few days later, on May 7, 2019, Mark provided us with a rendering of his understanding of the finished project. We approved of the design and provided him with a deposit (via check) that covered 75% of the estimated cost (apparently, a 75% deposit, rather than 50%, is the custom in the line of business). On May 20, 2019, almost two weeks later (a delay we did not understand), Mark came by our home to introduce us to Edding. They had samples of possible wood and stains that could be used for the bookcase. We chose the specific wood and stain we wanted. When we discussed the amount of time needed to complete the project, Mark told us it would take no more than 3 weeks for Edding to construct the bookcase and for him and Edding to install. However, we have worked with contractors before who often over-promise and under-deliver--especially with regard to completion dates-- despite our best efforts to work only with the highest rated professionals. Thus, we told Mark to give himself some "padding" of time so that he would be sure of his completion date. We'd rather be told a project would be completed at a later date and not be surprised with delays than to be given an earlier date that would have to be delayed. We made it abundantly clear that surprises of this nature are not our friends. With that in mind, Mark promised us that the project would be done--with no doubt--within 4 weeks (from May 20), i.e., on or before June 17. Great, we thought... However, throughout the next several weeks, we never heard from Mark unless WE initiated the phone call (i.e., Mark should have been the one to provide us with regular status reports, even to report that all is going as scheduled...he did NOT do this). During one of the calls we had initiated, Mark told us that Edding had become ill and that the project's completion date might have to be extended. One wonders when he would have told us this had we not phoned him. Mark promised he'd keep us posted. He did not. Once 7 more days had passed, we phoned Mark to learn how things were going and if Edding was feeling well enough to work. He wasn't sure but, again, said that he would keep us posted. June 17 (the 4-week deadline) came and passed. Of course we phoned Mark about the deadline having passed. He responded that Friday, June 21, 2019 would--without doubt--be the install date. That day came and passed--no installation. Part of the problem was that Edding's construction location is in Northridge (LA County) and we live in Indian Wells (which is 150 miles away (3+ hour drive)). Thus, UNLESS Edding got an early start on his drive, it wouldn't be feasible for him to leave that given day. Bottom Line: Mark could not give us precise dates and times during which the bookcase would be installed. Keep this lack of precision in mind when dealing with Mark unless, of course, you wish to provide him with access to your home even during your absence, which we did not feel comfortable doing. In short, we did not appreciate Mark's lack of clear communication with us. b. Lack of Communication with Edding, his Subcontractor. As mentioned above, Edding's shop, where the bookcase was constructed, is 150 miles away. Moreover, Edding doesn't have the ability to communicate by phone with Mark when he's in route to a client's location. (We were unaware of this communication weakness between Mark and Edding until very late in the project.) This obvious communication weakness became our problem. For example, during yet another phone call that we had initiated, Mark told us that Edding would arrive by 3:00 pm on Monday, June 24, 2019 (now 5 weeks after the May 20, 2019 design meeting). Yet we only learned the next day (Tuesday, 6/25/2019) that Edding had not even left Northridge on that day and had never planned to come to the desert that day. How did Mark not know this much earlier? On Wednesday, 6/27/2019 (almost 5 1/2 weeks after we had first paid our deposit), Edding arrived with the bookcase. He and Mark started the process of installing the bookcase. Unfortunately, they soon learned that Edding had forgotten (back in his shop 150 miles away) two critical components of the case and it couldn't be completed without those components. When they got to the point in the installation where they could go no further without those components, they left (in the early afternoon). In short, Mark did not communicate well with Edding throughout this project. 2. Mark Needs to Work on His Professional Courtesy Skills. At 3:00 pm, the afternoon of Monday, June 24, 2019, the day Mark told us that Edding would arrive at that time, we phoned Mark to find out Edding's ETA (estimated time of arrival). Mark responded that he didn't know and added that he hadn't heard from Edding at all (read about poor communication between Mark and Edding above). We had shifted our schedule to accommodate the Monday delivery and installation (remember, we were supposed to have the bookcase installed the previous Friday), and by 3:30 pm with no sight of Edding (and no way for Mark to phone him), we again phoned Mark and told him that it made no sense to come that afternoon because it would not be possible to install the bookcase that day since it would take at least 8 hours to install. Thus, we told Mark for him and Edding to come in the morning (Tuesday, 6/25/2019)--thinking that Edding would have arrived sometime late Monday--so that they would have a full day to install the bookcase. With this change in plans--Mark had told us the delivery was supposed to occur on Monday--Mark became upset, told us we were being unfair and, in a fit of exasperation, hung up the phone! If any of you has ever experienced being hung up on--especially by a contractor to whom you've already paid 75% of a $17,000 project that is already behind schedule--then you know how that felt. Not good... I mentioned above that Mark and Edding started the installation of the bookcase on Wednesday, 6/26/2019 but had to stop because Edding had forgotten 2 critical components. Well, while they were there on Wednesday, we told Mark that we were going to lunch and then would run some errands. Mark called us and told us that they were done for the day and would return the next day (Thursday). Unbeknownst to us, Mark had turned the temperature down substantially because he and Edding were hot. He didn't ask us if he could do this and he forgot to turn them back to the original temperature when they left. We were gone for several more hours before we got home to find the place very cold and could only wonder how much higher (in cost) our monthly electric bill would be because of the oversight. All Mark had to do was to ask us if he could adjust the temperature. But he did so without asking and left without adjusting the thermostats to their original temperature. Finally, on Thursday, 6/27/2019, Mark and Edding finished the installation of the bookcase they had started the day before. Though they had spent several hours on the install the prior day (Wednesday), completing the installation took all day, much longer than the total of 8 hours Mark had originally told us the installation would take. Conclusion: We were not satisfied with Mark's communication skills nor with his professionalism and courtesy. We are satisfied with the final product, but what an experience it was getting there! So, be prepared for Mark's lack of project management skills. Jay and JohnJul 29, 2019VerifiedMark Newman Inc.'s reply
Jay and John, Despite the longer than expected production time for your project, I am glad you both were pleased with the results! In my 25+ years of experience, making custom items can sometimes take longer to make than anticipated. I am sorry that became a issue for you, but 5 1/2 weeks for a project of the quality we produced is still quite fast by industry standards. If you agree, I would be happy to work with you again and hope you will consider me for any future needs!
Mark's approach is highly creative, resourceful, budget conscious,organized and functional. It's wonderful when all these qualities are packaged in one designer. Mark listens translates and offers the client creative options to fulfill their vision. We enjoyed working with Mark and highly recommend.Apr 16, 2019VerifiedMark Newman Inc.'s reply
I really enjoyed working with you and am very pleased with how your project turned out!
Mark is great at listening to my thoughts and my style.Sep 26, 2018Verified
My husband and I hired Mark to remodel and design our condo we bought in Palm Springs. My husband and I live in the bay area so we needed someone with the same vision as us and the ability become the project lead. Mark was amazing, he hired, supervised and managed all sub-contractors for us. Mark picked out different finishing materials and gave us options as the project progressed. When we saw our property for the first time after it was completed it was the classic HGTV moment and reveal. We would certainly hire Mark again if given the opportunity.Feb 7, 2018VerifiedMark Newman Inc.'s reply
Your project was a challenge given you had so many things you wanted to do given your budget. You know I have savvy to get lots of style for the money. Starting with an empty place, furnishing it fully and getting it done quickly is what I am all about. If you get that house you guys were eyeing, I would love to work with you again. All my best!
He has been very responsive. I’m enjoying the experience and excited to begin the project. A super nice guy and very down to earth.Jan 25, 2018VerifiedMark Newman Inc.'s reply
Thanks Lani, I am so happy to have been able to help you achieve your goals!
- What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?My fee is determined after a first meeting to determine the project size and scope. I also receive designer discounts of 10%-20% from many retailers and I pass that savings on to my clients.
- What is your typical process for working with a new customer?It starts with an initial meeting to discuss the scope, timeline and budget for your project. In our first meeting I want to hear what you have in mind and what your priorities are. Understanding your likes and dislikes will allow me to form concepts for you.
- What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?I have a BA Degree in Interior Design and over 25 years of design experience working on projects of varying styles, sizes and budgets.