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A Good Contractor...

Has a successful history of making clients happy.

Before calling and scheduling for estimates, pick 6 contractors in the phone book and then call the Better Business Bureau to see who has a good track record. That should leave you with two or three that you can then contact. No use taking your time and the time of others until you establish they will meet your criteria. You want to know you are comparing apples to apples.

Shows up on time.

A Contractor that does not show up on time will probably be just as inefficient at doing his job, your job. When a contractor shows up on time you find out that he thinks you are important. You know that he respects you and knows your time is valuable too. You want to know you are dealing with a person who has unspoken values and that they practice them. Even a good person who does not show up on time probably over-commits themselves and may not be able to keep their commitments even though they really want to. A person who does not hold up the simplest rules will not hold up to a warranty when there is pressure on him to keep his end of the bargain.

Evaluates potential problems not brought up by the owner.

An experienced contractor has performed many jobs and he has probably faced your particular circumstances before. He has probably learned that while one thing might sound good, it simple just does not work. He should be able to imagine the future improvements and look for future potential problems previously un-recognized by the client with respect to drainage, soil, roof designs etc and will identify them for clarification. Simple things like which way a refrigerator opens or how long an insulated window normally lasts can be a great advantage to a homeowner. Suggestions made by a contractor allow for better decisions and save costly changes later.

Asks questions.

Many times clients have difficulty expressing mental images in construction terms. We often ask for our customers to go through magazines and provide us pictures of what they want. The contractor should listen to what the Owner “says” they want. Often what the owner says and what they want are not the same. That is where a good contractor provides his most valuable service, making the ideas of a client work in the real world of construction. In some instances we almost have to be mind readers. We are the sculptors of our clients’ dreams. Listening and asking questions is paramount to providing customer satisfaction. We want our clients to be satisfied with price and timeliness but mostly with the end result, which we make the customer understand, is the real goal.

Provides itemized typed estimates.

Although you are looking for someone who is trustworthy you are talking about an investment. The estimate and contract should be highly detailed and is seldom written by hand except in an emergency. The contract is your insurance policy that the job is going to be done the way that you want it. Many contractors give broad outlines of their job and then spend the entire job cutting down on materials or design to maximize their profits. We feel that by detailing everything, we are protecting our customers from those practices and also protecting our relationship with our client. We go over that proposal with our clients line by line until they understand the hows and whys. A good contractor makes sure that all parties involved have a clear understanding of what the project includes and does not include. A good contractor understands that there are other contractors that have talked to those clients in the bidding process and though a client may vividly remember a contractors’ idea, they sometimes confuse which contractor told them what. So we put it in writing. If it’s not in writing, it is not what was finally agreed upon by the contractor.

Answers questions promptly.

A good general contractor has very few “I do not know but will get back to you” answers. If a contractor does not know the answers to a large amount of questions then he probably cannot anticipate potential problems. A general contractor should also be knowledgeable on how long the project may take, what it will involve, what the process for permits is if required and what the building code is for your particular project. He should know about alternative bldg materials, product warranties and their benefits both now and in the future,

Provides documentation

of change orders and a running tabulation of what the cost is so that the Client always understands where they are financially. Change order charges are often collected for when they are made if it adds considerable expense. Those change orders should identify and deduct the monies or a portion of the monies that were originally identified for that particular aspect of the job and then add for the change order itself.

For instance an estimate originally calling for a standard electric stove would have the cost of the stove refunded. The owner decides they want to drop in gas stove.
The owners usually see this as a difference between the costs of the 2 stoves. What they may not see is that there will be some additional charges to that request. One charge will be that gas will have to be run to that location. The second additional charge is that the countertops will have to be extended and a footer fill installed with cabinetry. The additional installation charges along with the parts needed for that installation will also have to be paid for. You can see why a simple change that an owner authorizes has to include all the costs of that change and not only the difference in the cost of the stove. The last thing a general contractor wants is a client who does not accept responsibility for the entire cost of a change order because they were not made aware of everything it entailed. The second worse thing would be a client who accepts the responsibility but has no way of paying for it. Either circumstance causes the customer and contractor to be dissatisfied with their experience

Stays on the job consistently until it is done.

A good general contractor only takes on as much work as they can adequately control and supervise. Too many contractors take deposits from clients and then drag the job out for 3 or 4 times the amount of time if they would have stuck to that one job. Ask your contractor how he is going to perform the work and have him submit it in writing so that you can call his attention to non-fulfillment of the contract and replace him if needed. This may not be needed but in the worse case scenario you will be treated preferentially and if there is a problem, it gives you more bargaining power.

Will follow up with the client immediately if there is a problem.

Unreturned calls or inattention to a client is lethal to your working relationship. When checking a contractor reference, one of the most important questions to ask is how the contractor reacted to change orders and problems. Most jobs have issues that come up during projects that need to be resolved. You will experience some of the same.

Combines employees with specialized tradesmen.

In most cases general contractors hire subcontractors almost exclusively. The problem with this type of organization is that subcontractors are their own company. Each company has their own schedule and way of doing things. Those schedules often conflict with the general contractors goals. The general contractor is trying to make this one job go more efficiently while the subcontractor is trying to make all his jobs more efficient. When a delay for unforeseen problems arises with the general contractor (owner makes changes, delays in special order materials, etc), the subcontractors cannot just bump their people back because doing so will affect all the other jobs on their roster. This causes a delay and additional cost. This is just one aspect of the problems with this type of general contractor. Others like work ethic and communication problems with subcontractors speaking directly to clients create more than a mountain of other problems.

The best general contractor service is one that incorporates employees with tradesmen separately licensed and insured. We are that kind general contractor. We hire our own individual carpenters, drywallers, painters, etc. to work for us directly. We subcontract only those separately licensed by the state like plumbers and electricians. This allows our company to respond almost immediately. The line of communication is directly from client to us so if there is a problem we can easily reschedule without having to increase the cost of doing so. We have our fingers on the pulse of the job.

Saves you money.

Your contractor should know the most efficient way to produce the results you want.

For example: A client wants us to use Brand X paint because it is cheaper. Although paint Brand X is cheaper than Brand Y, Brand X needs to have an extra coat applied to cover. Labor being more expensive than materials will prove that a job painted with Brand X is not cheaper but more costly than the same job painted with Brand Y. Also Brand Y comes with a better warranty. It is the Contractors job to know this and be able to explain the differences in easily understood terms.

Saves you time. (which then translates to money).

Most people work during the day. A homeowner usually hires a contractor because they realize they do not have the knowledge or time to ramrod the job yet we often find them insisting to supervise. You should be able to answer the following questions positively.

1. Do you trust your contractor?

When selecting a contractor, try and find someone you trust. If you do not trust him then do not hire him. People often settle for the cheapest guy out there. Do you really want the cheapest bidder in your home building something that you will expect to last for years to come? You should still inspect work at the end of the day and make a list of any items requiring clarification so that the contractor can answer them the next day.

2. Have you figured what your lost time is worth?

People hire general contractors when they:

A. Do not know how the process of construction works and there are more than 3 trades involved.
B. Do not have the time to monitor the job 8 hours a day.
C. If they are not able to take days off without losing pay.

The Standard Construction Company

For years we have noticed a major crack in the way construction companies do business.

1. A salesman is sent out to a job to talk to a client. The sales man is in sales not construction so he doesn’t normally have the knowledge of how the job is actually performed (the company has a construction crew for that.) He may suggest things that may not be possible once construction begins but he will not be dealing with the customer after the sale anyway because the company has another division for that. He generally receives a commission so his incentive is to find the “right” price the client is willing to pay.
The owner likes the personality of this person and is sold. The next people she sees are the construction guys but she is not sure they know what she wants. She tries to contact her salesman to go over the project but that turns out to be a supervisor who she has difficulty communicating her ideas to. She asks to speak to her salesman but he already has his commission and is working on other potential clients. She relates to her construction manager that the salesman told her this thing or that thing. The supervisor refers to the contract and there begins the problem. The idea she had envisioned cannot be performed because it is technically impossible to do in this case, unless of course she agrees to pay more. She is not getting what she originally wanted. She is disappointed. As the job nears the end another team of tradesmen show up to do a walk through and all the things she has told the other technicians to correct she now has to repeat. In the end she has paid for but didn’t get what she really wanted. She is left with the feeling that no-one really cares about what she wanted. She might even feel conned and taken advantage of and decides to take legal action. This is a long process and it will takes its’ toll in time, stress level and even more money.

What do we do different?

Our approach is different. We believe that we are the dream-keepers of our industry
From the moment we send our sales person over our process is different.
1. Our sales person listens, asks questions and provides the proper suggestions from a base of personal construction experience. He knows first hand what can be done and what cannot.
2. That salesman will be the supervisor of that job so any promises he makes are promises he will have to keep. His estimate accurately reflects what work is to be completed
3. That salesman schedules the different trades. That same salesman will be the same person that keeps the client informed of what the next step is and how the job is progressing so that client will always know that their ideas are getting to everyone doing the work.
4. If there is a problem he knows about it first and reacts immediately.
5. The salesman is the same person the client will deal with on change orders so he is in constant contact with that client making sure changes are properly credited and all aspects have been thought out to create a functional design.
5. When the job is complete it is that same salesman who will do the walkthrough.

He is the same person at every step of the process insuring that the word of the company (his word) is kept at all times and that the client never gets handed off. That is how we insure customer satisfaction. That is what the client wants. For someone to realize how important they are and how important their idea is to making their dreams come true.


Please use the form at the upper right, or call us at today at (210) 737-0394 in San Antonio for all your construction needs.