Reasons To Choose Us As
Your Local Remodeling Contractor

You are about to embark on perhaps some major demolition and reconstruction of one of your largest investments. And, you are about to invite a contractor and his/her workers and trade partners into your home and daily routines for a while. Choosing a home remodeling contractor is not nearly as simple as selecting the lowest ‘bid’ for the job. The low bidder is usually just the apparent low bidder.

Laughable, but not what you want!!

No Access Balcony Crooked Window Opening Just Make It Work

Here’s an excellent quote to explain:
“QUALITY! There is hardly anything in the world that some men cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s more unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it’s well to add something for the risk you take. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.” John Ruskin, Economist

So, as the homeowner, the whole remodel process involves a lot of homework on your part . . . but, we can help you.

If you haven’t already prepared a Bid Package then you should start with this article first: Running Your Own Bid (Part 1). Then, come back and let’s talk about selecting a remodeling contractor.

(Simply put, a ‘Bid Package’ is any and all documentation that is created to fully describe your project, and may include such things as: drawings, details, descriptions of products and materials to be used, and how they will be used and installed; finishes, colors and textures; bidding information about how (the format) and when bids will be received, how communications will be conducted, who is eligible to bid; information about insurances, bonds, financing, access to project areas, etcetera. This package contains what will be needed for procurement of a Building Permit, if one is required for the project. — Most remodel work requires a permit, and most work requires a contractor’s license as well as a local business license. These necessaries are for your protection. This is a service industry and is monitored by California Consumer Affairs Department and other agencies. The State conducts ongoing sting operations to catch unlicensed ‘contractors’ in an effort to protect you. For further information please see the Contractors State License Board’s website.)

OR, better yet . . . GIVE US A CALL and we can talk about the Bid Packagewhat all goes into it and why you need one, especially if you are talking to more than one contractor. Without it you will not be getting ‘bids’ that you can compare, and you will likely be spending more time and money on your project than you need to.

1. Is the contractor willing to sit down and discuss their bid so that you know you are comparing it properly with other bids?

Green_check_mark_gradientBid comparisons are difficult to do since no two contractors prepare their proposals in the same way. And, no two companies incur the same costs to keep them in business, and healthy. This is especially true of remodeling contractors. At our company, we are glad to take the opportunity to review our bid with you. We can also help you make a list of questions to ask the other bidders to help you know if they have priced the same work that we have included in our proposal. Whether or not you hire us to complete your remodel project, we want you to get a good sense of who we are, and to know how a professional remodeler works.

2. Does the contractor come highly recommended by his/her references?

Green_check_mark_gradientWe give you access to a list of past clients to contact (call us to ask for the hidden link in our website). References are very helpful. Most of our clients have told us that prospective customers are welcome to see their completed projects. We encourage this because our work sells itself.
Other questions to ask of references: 
Did the contractor complete the work that you wanted done?
Did the contractor complete the work for the price agreed upon?
(Or, did the contractor put in a low bid knowing that the customer will have to make changes to get a complete project?)
Did the contractor complete the project in the agreed timeframe for the work?
Is the contractor available if an emergency arises, and in a timely fashion?

3. Has the contractor been working in the community that you live in for a while, and knows local codes and ordinances with which he/she must comply?

Green_check_mark_gradientWe have been working in and around the Santa Rosa area since 1984, many times doing the designs and drawings that must pass muster with the Building Departments.

4. Does the contractor have a long track record of completed projects, with an equally long list of thrilled clients?

Green_check_mark_gradientWe have more than 300 completed projects ranging from small repairs to whole house remodels and additions, for more than 250 clients.

5. Does the contractor have a good rapport with the various building and enforcment authorities?

Green_check_mark_gradientOne of the owner’s primary jobs for a local architectural firm for four years was to procure all of the planning approvals and building permits for the projects that the firm designed. We have continued to do that for our clients over the years. Many of the building officials have even become friends.  Some projects don’t require permits, but most do. It’s very expensive and time-consuming if you’re caught and should have had one. We’ve seen code enforcement officers show up at a few of our projects lately – we always have the permits when required.

6. Does the contractor have a good network of suppliers, subcontractors and design professionals to get your job done?

Green_check_mark_gradientWith so many years in the same community I have built a network of resources that I rely upon. See my clients’ testimonials – they say it best.

7. Does the contractor do, or handle, an entire project from the conceptual design through to completion?

Green_check_mark_gradientI have been doing much of my own design and drawings since the early 1980’s. I have also been doing budget proposals, bid packages, formal bids and specifications’ manuals since the 1970’s, starting in the commercial, institutional and industrial side of the construction industry.

8. Can the contractor handle the project in his/her schedule when you would like it done?

Green_check_mark_gradientI do not take on more projects than I can personally manage. Usually one larger one, while I may take one or two smaller projects on (small repairs and such) to keep my past clients going. Contractors often have too many projects going at once, making it difficult to effectively manage them without a proper management team in place. This can result in poor communication and management, low quality, errors and a delayed project, besides more costs.

Remodel Project Construction Schedule
Home Remodel & Addition 2013 – Gantt Chart Construction Schedule
Critical Path Method (CPM) Construction Schedule of same project

9. Does the contractor have the resources (knowledge, experience, funds, contacts, credit rating, manpower) to complete the project for you?

Green_check_mark_gradientMy years in business, plus completed projects, without any liens, judgments, or even animosity, should speak for themselves. I have also never had credit refused, plus carry an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. There have been a number of cases where I was hired to complete someone else’s work because they didn’t have the experience, knowledge, understanding, character, solidity, interest, or time to do what they said they would do. I have also been hired several times to fix others’ work. I can give you specific contacts for this if you would like.

10. Is the contractor licensed and bonded as required by law?

Green_check_mark_gradientI have been continuously licensed and bonded in California since I first got my contractor’s license in 1984, with no judgments against me. Did you know that a ‘contractor’ that operates without a license cannot do work for a client when the total of labor, materials and other costs is $500 or more? Check it out: Basic Facts About Contracting in California.
If you hire someone to perform your work (when the work totals >=$500) that ‘contractor’ could be fined or jailed for criminal activity — they are operating outside of the law. Contact your attorney to discuss your risk exposure.

11. Is he/she insured as needed or required?

Green_check_mark_gradientBoth workers’ compensation and general liability insurance are a very good idea, and may be required, depending on whether the contractor has employees and subcontractors, and your comfort level. My company maintains these insurances. There are other insurances that you may want the contractor to carry also, or special bonds to help ensure the project will be completed if the contractor defaults for some reason.

12. Does the contractor communicate well?

Green_check_mark_gradientGood and constant communication is essential for the enjoyment of your remodel experience. My clients will tell you about my communications efforts to keep them informed, as well as the thorough research I am constantly doing to ensure you get the best possible project. I use a number of means to stay in touch with clients: mail, email, texting, phone, cell phone, notes at the job, and any other means that is useful. I also photographically record the projects as they progress. I want to be able to tell you whether something you’re thinking about in the future is even possible, and the photos allow me to do that better. I keep them stored and ready. This is very helpful as most clients come back for other projects later.

13. How does the contractor deal with changes that may occur as the job progresses?

Green_check_mark_gradientOn probably every project we have done, there have been changes made by clients. We want to be sure that when your project is complete it meets all of your needs and dreams. Changes are handled as a matter of course, not as a problem.

14. Is the person you first meet with the one who will be on the job everyday, or running the project for you?

Green_check_mark_gradientThis is important because there will be more continuity throughout the project. When you meet with me, as the owner of Robert Douglas Youngs Contractor, you are talking to the person that manages the work on every project. On days that I have a subcontractor on the project, I am usually there also to ensure things like details, questions, comments, progress and accuracy are kept in focus. Here is what to expect at our first meeting.

15. How will the contractor follow up on your concerns after the project is completed?

Green_check_mark_gradientThis is essentially a warranty question. Almost all of our jobs come from repeat business or referrals. We want to gain and keep your trust for the long haul. We want to know we’ll be the first you call for any projects that you may have in the future, or for anyone that you hear of who could use a reputable contractor. Because reputation is so important to us, we want to make sure you never have a reason to go elsewhere. Some have called this a ‘Lifetime Warranty.’ We call it ‘caring properly for the customer.’ We will come back and fix things, and usually don’t charge for the labor, unless it’s from wear, damage or abuse. See our Warranty.

16. What quality of materials and products does the contractor use?

Green_check_mark_gradientWe are very particular about the quality of products and materials we use on our jobs. If it’s not good enough for our own homes, we won’t use it in yours. We are always pleased to share with you a bit about the brands we use and where we buy them.

Now, ask yourself:
17. Which contractor am I most comfortable with, and would be the ‘best fit’ for me and my family?

Green_check_mark_gradientTo me, this is where the ‘rubber meets the road.’ And, satisfied clients are the best places where you can go to get this assurance. If the ‘best fit’ contractor has a higher bid than your budget allows, negotiate with them for a modified remodel that is within your budget. Or, do the project in phases. Most of our work is done this way.

For an even more complete list of questions, and your obligations in the whole process, see my blog entries starting at: Choosing the Right Remodel Contractor (Parts 2-6)