What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
While some installers give a flat hourly rate, I feel that is little incentive for them to get the job done in a timely manner. Our estimates are detailed enough so you know exactly where your money is going. If a tight budget needs to be met, adjustments can be made without any suprises at the end of the project. Too often I hear about companies that offer a low estimate to get the job, and end up charging much more on the final invoice. Any changes to the estimate are approved before work is started.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I am a daily visitor to the John Bridge forums where professional tile installers hang out and help DIY (do it yourselfers) with questions on their projects, as well as hang out, brag, and educate each other on everything you can think of related to tile. New products, reviews of new and old, sharing techniques, showing off pictures of jobs we are currently working on, or just sharing pictures of the catch from the latest fishing trip. It's known as the friendliest DIY forum on the internet. I've been going there and learning from other professionals for a long time. if a customer has a tough question, or he doubts my answer, it's good to be able to send him somewhere where he can openly ask other professionals.
I'm also certified by Laticrete with all of their products, a certified installer of Wedi products, certified with all of Masterheat's in-floor heating products and I attend several home shows during the year representing them and talking to homeowners about their products.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
I actually kind of stumbled into it. Looking for work, my sister worked at a tile supply company, and heard that someone needed some help. I started out on the ground level, literally, my first day was spent on my hands and knees, grouting a floor for 8 hours. 13 years later I'm the owner of my own company and still loving what I do.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Bathroom remodels are by far the largest part of our workload. Whether it's a leaking shower that needs replacement, or just an outdated bathroom that needs a new look. With designers, general contractors, painters, electricians and carpet/hardwood installers we have worked with for years, if we can't do it, we can get you in touch with someone who can.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
Insurance job for a remodeling company based in Sammamish. Large home in Redmond that had flooded while they were out of the country. Over 1500 sq ft. of tile including a large marble entry floor and a very large master bath. Job was completed on budget despite the difficulties of the homeowner being out of the country for most of the project. Working in Seattle can have it's challenges, with pay parking and limited hours/space, but each city will have it's difficulties. Mercer Island, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Newcastle... We are even working on a project on Herron Island right now.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Ask for references and check on them. Don't go by pictures they show you. Do you know for a fact they did the work or did they just Google tile bathroom and print out a few nice ones. I've torn out a lot of shower over the years, and far too many of them were just a year or two old. Mold everywhere, no waterproofing, no liner in their shower. Mistakes no self respecting knowledgeable tile installer would ever make. Installing pressure treated wood in a shower may sound like a good idea to the average person without doing his homework, but in reality, if the shower were done right in every other way, that pressure treated wood would dry out and then begin to warp and twist. Slowly cracking out grout, popping loose or breaking tiles. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
If you are looking to hire a tile specialist and you go out and ask for 5 different bids.... You really need to ask more questions than just what will it cost me. If all you want is the lowest bid, you are going to end up with the lowest quality level of work completed. Period. It's that simple. You don't have to take the highest bid, but you can educate yourself easily on what you need to look for before hiring anyone. Check if their license is valid. Check their insurance and bond. Ask for references. Ask them what materials and waterproofing methods they use. Do they only offer 1 year warranty or can they give you a lifetime warranty. It will be more expensive to get a bathroom that will last a lifetime, but do you think it will be more expensive than tearing out that same bathroom in 2 years when the shower is leaking into your living room and you find out the contractor is now out of business?