Client Questions

Estimating, Design and Construction Process Overview for Jim Hicks Home Improvement

Oftentimes I am asked, “What is your process for Estimating, Design and Contruction?”montana cedar

So I decided to outline for you (because I only want to be a blessing…)


I.       House Call and Free Estimate

  1. I meet with the owner at their property and listen to their vision for the project, take measurements and pictures.
  2. I then develop a “conceptual budget” with a written scope of work to detail what I have priced (because the faintest ink beats the best memory).

II.     Budget Presentation

  1. Once the owner receives the estimate, they then have a good idea as to what the project is going to cost with the scope of work I have provided.
  2. Oftentimes the owner will increase or decrease the project size to meet their budget.
  3. The owner decides if they want to move ahead with a more formal agreement.

III.  Written Agreements.

  1. The initial deposit of any Agreement (contract) will be 1/3 of the entire Agreement amount.
  2. The entire Agreement can include both the Design Phase & the Construction Phase or each can be contracted separately.

a.  90% of the time they are both included as part of the same Agreement

3. If the initial Agreement is the Design Phase only, the Agreement is Titled “Design Agreement”.

i.   Design Phase

1.      Drafted Construction Plans

a.  During this phase our architect (designer) and I meet at the property with the owner and discuss the project as it now stands with the budget.

b. The architect (designer) will generate computer drafts of the project and email them to the owner.

i. This starts a back & forth revision cycle until the owner is seeing in the designs exactly what they want.

ii. This is all done under my supervision so that I am ensuring that all design changes can be accommodated within the stated budget.

2.      Selections

a. During this time, we are introducing the owner to our suppliers so that they can make selections with the allowances in the estimate.

b. These allowances used in the initial estimate are now converted to actual prices.

c. That is, a $250 allowance for a toilet may become $180.43. The budget is adjusted accordingly.

i. Some selections that will have to be made during a typical project: Flooring, Cabinets, Paint, Plumbing fixtures, Lighting fixtures, Floor Tile, Shower Tile, Siding, Roofing.

3.      Confirming Budgets for Construction Trades

a. Once the design and construction plans are finalized, I hold a team meeting on site for all the construction tradesmen that will be involved in the project (example: Plumber, Electrician, HVAC, etc.)

i. I provide each of them a scope of work, copy of the construction plans and a budget of how I estimated their trade.

ii. They are expected to view the plans, scope and spec, ask me and the owner any questions (electricians always have a lot of questions about light fixtures and receptacle placement) and send me confirmation or adjustments (with reasons) to their budget within 1 week.

4.      Conclusion of Design Phase.

a. At the conclusion of the design phase, the owner has the following:

i. A design and set of construction plans that can be submitted to the City for a permit

ii. As many selections as have been made, allowances have been converted to hard numbers.

ii. A confirmed price from the Contractor to build the design with the selections the owner has made.

ii. Construction Phase

1.      Pre-Construction Meeting

a. Director of Production conducts pre-construction job review and briefing on site with owner.

b. Topics covered will be communications, job site access, owners work hours, safety, scheduling, payments, customer expectations.

2.      Construction

a. Each project will be unique, but as a rule, the jobsite will be left in broom clean condition at the end of each work day.

3.      Payments

a. We collect 1/3 deposit upon approval of any agreement. Progress payments are invoiced on a bi-weekly basis on a standard AIA (American Institute of Architects) Percentage of Completion spreadsheet.

b. This allows us to show and discuss exactly where we are in the process of the project with the owner so that they understand what is going on at all times.

4.      Job Conclusion

a. At a point we call “Substantial Completion”, the Director of Production will conduct a thorough walk through and inspection of the project with the owner.

b. Any and all incomplete or unsatisfactory items will be written on the Final “Punchlist”.

c. Once all the items on the Final Punchlist have been satisfied, the Project will be considered “Complete”.

Estimating Siding in Carrollton, Windows in Norfolk, and Load Bearing Walls in Williamsburg

Each week I go out to Joust Windmills! and by that I mean, meet with homeowners that have called and requested a free estimate for Home Improvements.  We are making a better world, one home at a time!

Don Quixote by Picasso
Don Quixote by Picasso

Hopefully, the homeowners I meet will see us as the best value for their hard earned money, select our firm to perform these services and in them we acquire a client, a raving fan, and a new friend!

Sometimes my efforts are rewarded, sometimes I refer them to another firm that can serve them better, sometimes I get used and abused.  No matter; I still go.  I am reminded of what Don Quixote sang:

“And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star”

Foundation Repairs Needed in Hampton

Monday I went to Hampton to meet with an 88 year old gentleman that was concerned about major cracks going on in his ceilings and walls in his home. I asked him when the home was built he thought it was built in the 1930’s. I guessed 1968 when I checked Zillow later I saw that I had been built in 1969. He was very concerned about the structural stability of the home. I saw that this was probably a job for the good guys at FSI: Foundation Systems Incorporated. I called them on the phone and told them about what I was seeing and set up a time for them to come out and see the gentleman to evaluate his situation and give an estimate. He was concerned about the cost and if insurance would cover foundation issues. I told him I didn’t know about insurance but I answered all his questions about foundations and framing and how it would affect the cracks in the walls and ceilings. Nice guy, I hope everything works out for him. I know I left him in good hands with FSI!

Moving Walls in Williamsburg

Later that same day I met a great couple who wanted to remove some load bearing walls and make their kitchen and living room and open floor design. They had attempted quite a bit
of remodeling work themselves and were finding it just a bit more difficult then they make it seem on HGTV.
They wanted to replace all the ceilings in the downstairs with a flat untextured drywall because the previous owner had used a heavy stomped ceiling texture that made it look not unlike a Baked Alaska cake.

Heavy texture on ceiling can looked like "Baked Alaska"

Heavy texture on ceiling can look like “Baked Alaska”

They also wanted to replace all the floors in the downstairs area which would include demolishing a mud set tile floor in the foyer, hardwood floors in the living room and dining room & a laminate floor in the kitchen

In the den, they had some faux beams across the ceiling that they wanted removed and new recessed lights put in, ceiling drywall repaired and then painted.

faux beams in den
faux beams in den

Upstairs the owner had tried to do some drywall finishing work in the bathroom until he realized that the extent of his skills did not include the “artwork” that is drywall.  He wanted us to redo the drywall in the master bathroom.

On the rear of the house they had a balcony coming off of the master bedroom that they had previously removed.

Rear of home where balcony has been removed
Rear of home where balcony has been removed

Because of the Tudor style of the house the stucco was very damaged where the balcony had previously existed. They wanted a price for re-siding the rear of the home with Hardieplank lap siding.

My estimate for all of the above: $17,532

They also had a problem with their air conditioning ducts being extremely dirty and they wanted the air conditioning ducts cleaned.This is the inside of an AC Duct

This is the inside of an AC Duct

One of the problems that we noticed with the air conditioning ducts is that there was a commercial style insulation inside the ducts so I referred them to Chuck Worley with The House Call Company.

Leaking Windows in Norfolk

Picture taken by tenant of the top of the window leaking
This is a picture of the leak taken by the tenant. Note the water drops on the top rail of the single hung window
Leaking Mullion between single hung and half round window
The arrow and yellow line shows the area of the mullion that is allowing water to enter the window assembly

I went to Norfolk to take a look at a rental property that we had previously worked on in the past. We had found a roof leak in the past and that was due to a bullet that had lodged in the roof and created a leak. We also replaced the rear patio door that had been leaking on this home in the past. This time the leak was coming from a large window assembly and the master bedroom on the second floor. There was a large half round window that was mulled to two 3 foot wide single-hung windows beneath it.  The mullion that attached the half round window to the single-hung windows was allowing water to come in during rainstorms.  The permanent fix to this would be to replace the entire assembly (due to the fact we had no idea who the window manufacturer was or how to get replacement parts for the mullion). However, because of our long-standing relationship with the property owner, I was willing to try a “gamble repair” of just caulking the mullion in between the half round window and the single-hung windows on the chance that that might solve the leak. I told them it would definitely be a maintenance item and there be no warranty on it, but the cost savings would definitely be worth the gamble. They agreed.

Front Porch Addition in Hampton

I went to the Chesapeake Avenue area of Hampton to meet with a young Coast Guard man who was interested in building a front porch of his house. After discussing the different designs for the front porch, looking at what his neighbors had,  talking about what he wanting to do and discussing his budget constraints, it quickly became apparent that he was not anywhere near the point where he really knew what it was exactly that he wanted. I referred him to David DiSpirito of Homesite, Inc. so that he could hire David to develop a design that he could then have priced.  Otherwise, I could see us wasting a lot of time going back and forth and him never getting something that both he and his wife could agree on. He was pleased with that idea and then he asked me to come inside the house and look at some of the other remodeling ideas that he had that he wanted to do himself. We looked at the kitchen, we also looked at removing a load bearing wall in the 1940s era house and some of the opportunities and constraints that the current layout of the house had. It was a good meeting  and we parted on good terms. samurai txtHopefully he pursues the design idea with David DiSpirito and we get a design in the future that we can price and get the opportunity to do some work for him

 Vinyl Siding and Paint in Carrollton

I went to a siding estimate in Carrollton Virginia.  A very large house that the owner’s husband had done a lot of work on. He had passed away just 18 months ago and it seemed like they were taking some of the life insurance money and doing a lot of repairs to the house. They wanted to install new vinyl siding on the house which is currently all stained cedar siding.
The owner was getting very frustrated with the carpenter bees attacking the wood trim and the siding. The bees were definitely “out in force”  the day we were out there.

These are what the carpenter bees looked like that day.
These are what the carpenter bees looked like that day.
It was interesting to talk about her recently deceased husband having been in the Air Force and  he had also worked in the career field that I had worked in in the Air Force.
The owner was very interested in what I had to say about the siding and my recommendations as to how to handle certain details on the home as opposed to what others may have said about the siding. It was interesting that she didn’t want to share what the others had said but I had wonder… it was almost like I was there for an exam!
One of the issues was that on the side of the house the siding had been run on an angle and other contractors had told her that vinyl siding could not be run at an angle (which I knew was untrue…I have since located the specification from the manufacturer that will allow for this.)cedar siding run on an angle So that was a point of discussion.
She had gutters on the house and some of the fascia boards had been wrapped with pvc coated trim coil at the same time as the gutters were installed and there was discussion about having Carefree Gutters remove the gutters prior to our start and replace them after we were done.
She also wanted many of the doors repainted on the house.
My estimate for this work: $20,317

Have You Ever Felt Frustrated Comparing Two Estimates?

It’s difficult comparing estimates. I had to do it remotely once for my Grandmother in California for just a roofing project once and it drove me crazy, it was like comparing Apples & Oranges! I thought it’d be a piece of cake, after all I do this for a living, right?

My experience was, knowing more about what I was talking about only made evaluating each contractor and their proposal even more confusing. I had a real eye opener: “this is what my clients are going through??”clipart-blob-what-do-i-do-now

So, I feel your pain.

As a contractor, the only time that I really have to do this is when I am estimating a job for a client that has an insurance claim and the insurance company has sent an adjuster to estimate the project as well.

Over the years, I have developed a technique that works quite well when I have to compare an insurance adjuster’s estimate with mine.

If you can imagine the two estimates usually come in quite far apart price wise, which usually prompts the less “seasoned” adjusters and contractors to call each other “crazy” – basically because each of them are confident that they priced their project very carefully and how could anyone in their right mind be that far off??

So, what I’ve learned to do is sit down with the insurance adjuster and say “let’s put price aside for the moment and just focus on:
1. Scope of work – exactly what work is being performed in each of our estimates.
2. Specifications – to what standards & quantities the work is being performed. (i.e. “install soaking tub” vs. “install 6 ft porcelain on cast iron 89 gal tub”)
3. Selections – what fixtures are being used for plumbing? What fixtures are being used for electrical? What type of tile?

I have found that when the two estimates are lined up with those three things, the prices are almost dead even every time. Therefore, I know in the beginning, if the prices are way off, the two estimates are not pricing the same job (scope, specifications & selections).

Thoughts on Leadership

Recently, I was very flattered to receive questions on leadership from a Cadet Commander of the local Civil Air Patrol for a speech he had to give.

Below is my response:


Thank you for your email, it was well received.  I will attempt to answer your two queries as best I can.

 Question #1.

You wrote: “The main question is to write about how executive level leaders lead by articulating a vision and directing a staff. How conveying your vision for the end goal is or is not important to your leadership style”.

Several quotes come to mind:

“To grasp and hold a vision, that is the very essence of successful leadership—not only on the movie set where I learned it, but everywhere.”— Ronald Reagan

 (this loftiness should be tempered with the wonderful utilitarianism of Mr. Edison)

 “Vision without execution is hallucination.”— Thomas Edison

I believe at the executive level it is important to understand the difference between leadership and management and learn how to balance the two.  My Academy roomate, Colonel Andrew Dembosky wrote that the effective combination of both is a concept that is most often described in the military as “command”.  As General George Patton said “Always do everything you ask of those you command

It seems that the civilian world would like to permanently separate the two disciplines of leadership and management.  In reality they are inseparable.  I appears to me that understanding the difference between the two is key to a leader’s effectiveness.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey uses an extremely apt jungle metaphor to unite these concepts of leadership and management. Many people are fantastic managers. They are able to push forward on whatever projects are thrown their way. In a jungle, if given the task to slash through the brush and clear a path, these amazing managers would wield their machetes valiantly. They would cut through the flora no matter what problems came up to face them. These managers don’t care about the big picture; they just accomplish the task at hand.

Meanwhile, the leaders are doing something quite different. Leadership is all about making sure that the direction the solution is going in is the right one for the future. The leaders are up high in the sky surveying the jungle. They are the ones who are willing to say, “This is the wrong jungle! Let’s move on.”

A manager might respond to the leader by saying, “But we’re making great time and doing so well!”  The manager doesn’t care about the bigger picture. He’ll chop whatever jungle is put in front of him.

Therefore, to your question, conveying the vision for the end goal is key to my leadership style, but it seems to me it is merely one part of what my responsibility is to lead the organization. I believe, as the leader I must set the pace and tone of the organization. It’s great to paint a great picture, but the speed of the group is determined by the speed of the leader, my team must see me setting the pace for organization in work pace,  passion for the goal, and commitment to the team.   I want my team to see by my actions, and know that I am willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that vision or I won’t be able to expect them to commit to it.  I must be a leader and a manager and must accept and execute the responsibilities of command.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (from World War 2, The “Desert Fox”):

“Be an example to your men, in your duty and in private life. Never spare yourself, and let the troops see that you don’t in your endurance of fatigue and privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered and teach your subordinates to do the same. Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide.” 

― Erwin Rommel

Question #2:

You wrote: “The second is why character is or is not vital to a leaders success. I see this as being about things you wish you had know about leadership when you were my age. But feel free to respond in anyway you would like.”

 Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

 “We will not lie, steal or cheat or tolerate among us those who do.”  – United States Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Code.

 Looking back now, there are a few things on character that they didn’t teach me at The Air Force Academy which became large hurdles that I had to learn to overcome in life.  At USAFA, it seemed that character was taught as a lofty idealism that superseded all other values in life.  And whereas this was a noble ideal, it was taught in an incomplete manner by an institution that purports to teach leadership and lacked a certain practicality.  “In theory there is no differerence between theory and practice.  In practice, there is.” -Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut

 In my opinion, what was lost in the lessons on character at USAFA was people.  The number one requirement for a leader is to have people that are willing to follow him.  People are flawed. We are flawed by design, it cannot be changed.  How then, does one effectively lead an imperfect organization of flawed people while we are deeply flawed ourselves?  How are consistently outstanding results achieved by teams of morally compromised (by definition) individuals?

As my friend (and now neighbor) General Dick Abel says, “Leadership is all about people.”     One thing about people is they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  People will follow you if they know you truly care about them, care about the organization that you are leading and care about what you are asking them to care about.  In my experience, no one has ever followed anyone because the leader was “technically competent” at their profession.

It seems to me that the role that character plays in leadership is that you have to believe in it and aspire to it, your people have to see that you hold it up as the standard that the organization is committed to…and then you have to love your people and support them when they fail and hold yourself and them accountable if their lack of character threatens the organization.

As a leader, it is not easy to discipline yourself to set the example for the orgainization character-wise. It’s even more brutal to have to let someone go, whom you deeply care about, because their conduct threatens the effectiveness of the organization that you are a steward of.  But the organization an as entity itself has it’s own character that must be upheld by the individuals that comprise it.  It is the leaders charge to develop a moral organization, out of a collection of flawed parts (to include himself), that operates with integrity. This is why many refer to leadership as an “art” rather than a “science”.

I have learned the hard way that the two qualities that I chiefly look for in an employee are character and work ethic, because these are the two qualities I’ve learned I cannot teach to those that do not possess them already.

Dan, words may fail me in that the hard-learned lessons that I am trying to communicate are very heartfelt and not easily articulated.

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. 

-C. S. Lewis

 I believe, that at the end of the day a leader’s effectiveness is the result of how well his people perform and how well those that he is leading achieve high levels of performance.  People don’t achieve high levels of performance because they “should” or they “need to” or even because they “must”.   People only achieve high levels of performance because they want to.

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. – Mohandas Gandhi

 Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

Fly, fight and win!




shingle roof on townhome

The Ugly Truth That Contractors Know About Your Home

It was 1999 when the reality that homeowners don’t look at their own homes was illustrated to me in a potential dispute with a client.

The crew had just finished the roof on the small townhome and were sweeping off the loose shingle granules and cleaning up.  I had arrived to ensure the client was satisfied and to collect the final payment.

“How do you like the way the new roof looks, ma’am?” I asked.
“Well it looks real nice, but you guys messed up one piece.”  She replied.
Surprised, I queried, “What piece is that?” as I walked backwards into the street to get a better view of the front of the townhome.
She followed me into the street and pointed to the roof, “that part right there.  It’s all crooked.  It was NOT like that before, so YOU guys did it.”

It was then that I realized something, but rather than react I wanted to be clear about what exactly she was referring to.  So I called up to the foreman on the roof, Adrian Banks.  “Adrian, would you walk over and point to the flashing on the firewall for me?”

Adrian looked at me quizzically.  I knew what he was thinking but I didn’t want him to let the cat out of the bag by saying anything.
“Just humor me for a second!”  I yelled up to him, smiling (to put him at ease that I wasn’t accusing him of anything).
Adrian did just that and walked over and pointed to the flashing on the firewall.

“Ma’am, is what Adrian’s pointing to what you’re concerned about not being the same as it was before we started the roof?”

“Yes,” she said, “it’s all crooked now and I know it wasn’t like that before!”

As gently as I could, so as not to hurt her feelings, I explained, “Well, ma’am, that’s not your roof.  That’s your neighbor’s roof.  We didn’t work on your neighbor’s roof.  This is your roof over here where the guys are cleaning up.”

shingle roof on Yorktown townhome
Just a recent townhome that we installed a new roof on (for illustrative purposes). Not the one in the story. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for….move along….

She was embarrassed, there was no way around that part as she admitted, “Well, I guess it was like that before, then.”

 I had one thing in my favor during this exchange.  It’s an ugly truth that contractors know about your home that you may not believe.  The truth is that you rarely spend much time looking at the outside of your home…or even the inside for that matter.   We are so familiar with the homes we live in we do not look at them with a discriminating eye, we do not see how they’ve weathered or aged over the years.  We do not see where the maintenance is needed.  

So, when a third party is invited to come and inspect or to give an estimate of repairs or a proposal for improvements, what they see as a contractor may be very different than what we see.   The low cost of modern digital photography has all but eliminated the disputes contractors used to have with owners about “how it was before,” as contractors can take many documentation photos for no cost before the job is ever started.  

I often share my pictures that I’ve taken of the client’s home with them in our discussion of what needs to be done on the property.  All too often they are shocked at the things that I am showing them even though I can walk them right to the area and show them in person.  I’ve had several occasions where the homeowner didn’t realize I was showing them pictures of their house!  This speaks directly to the fact that we are so familiar with our own homes, living there day after day, that we don’t SEE the reality of what is actually going on right under our noses as they age and wear.

The bigger issue that arises from this fact however is unmet expectations.  Unmet expectations lead to friction and trouble.  If the owner is contracting a project with an inaccurate view of the current condition of the property, it may be possible that their expectations of the finished project may be inaccurate.  This is one of the reasons that it is so critical for the contractor to take the time to write a detailed scope of work in their agreement and discuss it with the owner to ensure that the picture in the contractor’s head is the same as the picture in the owner’s head of what is included in the agreement and almost as important, what is NOT included


roof hail

Client Questions: How do I Select a Roofing Contractor When I Have Hail Damage?

A storm of hail this size can devastate a roof
A storm of hail this size can devastate a roof

A friend recently wrote me a question about how to evaluate roofing contractors to determine who she should use to replace her hail damaged shingle roof: 

Hey Jim,

I have a question for you.

Our house in Colorado Springs needs a new roof due to hail damage. I contacted three Roofers and got their estimates.Two work with USAA and the other with the manager of our house. He has the lowest estimate 6.000$. The other two are the same….around 11.000$.
What do we have to look for when picking one of them? I know one roofer is going to use a thicker pad for underneath….but otherwise….

This is a great question! My response was as follows:

I would be cautious of a roofer with that low of a price. When it comes to hail damage, ensure that you are using an established local company that will be around for years to come after all the storm chasers leave town or you might find yourself paying for repairs in the future that should be covered by warranties of contractors who are no longer in town.

Due diligence:

  • Drive by the place of business and put your eyeballs on it. Is it a legit business? Will they be there in ten years?  You’re about to spend $11,000 on something, don’t you think you might want to visit the business that’s providing it?  Are you concerned enough about your home to knock on their door and ask to be shown around as a part of your process of evaluating contractors? Trust me, the legitimate contractor would jump at the chance to show you their office, even if it’s unannounced.
  • Get online and go to the website of the shingle manufacturer of the shingle they are proposing to use (Certainteed is my favorite). Are they listed as an approved installer? This isn’t a deal breaker but it does indicate how much support you can expect from the shingle manufacturer if there is a product problem. It also is a good indicator as to how committed they are to their trade.
  • In my opinion the BBB is less than worthless, but Angie’s List can be helpful. Also, don’t exclude Facebook or other social media! Put the names on there and ask if anyone has any experience with these roofing contractors. Use your network: it is the best and most honest source of unfiltered info!


I would be less concerned about the felt paper used and more concerned (especially in Colorado) if they are installing ice and water shield at the eaves and valleys. I would also ensure they are removing and replacing all old flashing with new flashing (don’t fall for the “there’s nothing wrong with it” argument- nails don’t go back in the same holes. ) Also: all vents should be replaced, for the same reason as the flashing.

Here are some more articles I’ve written that discuss the technical side in more depth:

Should Flashing Be Replaced When Installing a New Roof?

Should you add a Ridgevent when you have a new roof installed?

Selecting Shingles for Quality and Price

What will it be like when they replace my roof?

Why is checking out roofing contractors so important, especially when it relates to hail damage?

There is an entire contractor industry that is devoted to chasing hail nationwide. Most companies are based out of Texas and have computer monitoring systems that they pay for that alert them to any and all reports of hail nationwide. I have met many of these contractors and their logistics are quite impressive if you can get past the fact that so many of them are scam artists.

YouTube video

YouTube video

YouTube video


Success Profile for Jim Hicks in Hampton Roads Magazine

"I just want to see my smiling face on the cover of The Rolling Stone"
“I just want to see my smiling face on the cover of The Rolling Stone”  (click on image to enlarge)


kitchen remodel

Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling in Virginia Beach – Good, Fast, or Cheap: Choose 2

When evaluating remodeling options, I am reminded that the graphic design industry feels the same way about their industry:

I like to tell people this:  good, fast, or cheap – choose 2.  If it is good and cheap, it’s probably not going to be fast.  These contractors will have big back-logs of work.  They have a very economical product and a suitable quality of work, so everyone wants them to come to their house next.  These contractors will get things done the most economical way possible at the highest quality that is warranted; however, this will be done in their way and on their schedule.

Take these kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in Virginia Beach for example:     round glass bathroom

3 After Kitchen (1)

They look AWESOME!  They definitely weren’t cheap!  The workmenship is top-notch.  The materials are the highest quality obtainable. 

 The question is:  How much of this was necessary?

Then there is cheap and fast.  This, therefore, cannot be good.  If they are cheap and fast, quality is certainly missing and perhaps maybe their morals as well.  Some scam artist contractors out there are selling and installing stolen materials, that’s how they are so cheap.  Some contractors out there promising cheap prices and lightning fast speed just want your deposit money.  They never plan on finishing the job, maybe not even starting the job!  Good luck finding those guys later to get your money back for work not completed or come perform warranty work on their job if you were lucky enough to get the job completed.  You must avoid these “contractors” at all costs or you could be sorry.

This was surely fast AND cheap!

And this is usually how the customer ends up in that situation:

Lastly, there is good and fast.  For this superior service you must be prepared to pay the right price.  You see this demonstrated very effectively on Holmes on Homes on HGTV channel.  His crew comes into a project with lots of highly-skilled hard-working man-power, all of the best tools and products, and subcontractors that will bend over backwards to please and perform the highest quality work on a moment’s notice.  What is never revealed in that show is the COST to the client.  You can rest assured that it is quite a bit higher than the average.

Some Contractor’s Just Can’t Say No

Some Contractors Just Can’t Say No – A Commentary by Jim Hicks

It’s amazing to me how contractors are diversifying their products and services that they offer to their clients in this down economy. I was just talking to a contractor that supplies and installs overhead garage doors. During our short conversation he told me that lately they were installing a lot of granite countertops and commercial lighting. So I asked him what experience he had in doing these kinds of things. He said “None, it is a learn-as-you-go situation but I just can’t tell anybody no when they ask me ‘Can you do this?’”.

Historically, contractors have always had a very hard time saying “no” to a potential client for fear of leaving money on the table, appearing inept or unprofessional when their prospect asks if they can perform a certain function for them. However, would you ask your dentist to give you an opinion about your car, business finances, or perhaps your physical fitness program?  Not likely, unless your dentist is a muscle-bound gear-head with a portfolio of 7 or 8 figures.

When considering hiring a contractor to do some work for you, do your homework beforehand! Make sure the contractor you are considering is capable, qualified, and experienced in that specific type of work.  Also, you want to make sure your contractor has the following:

  • A Contractor’s License
  • Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Insurance (in case there is an accident)
  • A permanent place of business (in case you need to go find them for any reason)
  • References from past customers that had the same type of work done
  • Lead, mold or asbestos certifications (only as applicable)
“What do you mean, ‘That isn’t up to code?’ What code?”

“No, we don’t need a plumber! I can do it, its easy! Anybody can do it!”


What do I need insurance for? It’s not like I’m going to do something stupid or anything!