Log Home Repair and Restoration Serving New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut Log Home Repair and Restoration Serving New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut
Call 609-758-0555


Cabin Doctor
853 Rt 537
Cream Ridge, NJ 08514
Fax: 609-758-7580

Log Home Repair and Restoration Serving New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut
Print Page
 
 
Recent Projects

 
 
Newsletter Signup

E-Mail:
Name:
Address:
 
Schedule of Events
   
 
 
 
 
   
Log Home Repair and Restoration Serving New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut
Repair & Restoration

Click to go directly to: 

For any homeowner who engages a contractor, you will want to know a little about him.  I don’t mean personal information, I mean professional information.  You will want to make sure the contractor you engage is the right one for you.  No, I don’t mean to marry him, but I do mean personality does play a part almost as important as professional skills and ability.  For example, you can search out and hire the best guy, but what if he is difficult to work with, or the communication isn’t there.  He can do a fantastic job, but is it what YOU want.  But watch out for the fast talking salesman who will promise you anything.  Which brings me to my next point, no discussion about contractors would be complete without the discussion of the bad ones.  No one likes a rotten contractor.  Especially other contractors.  This guide is meant to aide you in weeding out the bad from the good.  We all want to put the bad ones out of business!!  This leads me to my first criteria.

The first 3 items on the list should be a go/no go decision maker:

Licensing

All contractors are required to register in the state, county or town they live in.  It is not practical to register in every little town especially if it is not required, however, they should be registered in each state they work in.  Now, don’t just see the number and check it off your list.  You need to call the state and check to see if there any complaints.  Sometimes, this can be done on line.  Along these lines, you should have a business address on the companies you are looking at.  DO NOT be tempted to do business with someone who hides this information.  They should also have their company name blazoned across their trucks.  If it is missing, you have to ask why?

Return To Top

References

Ask for their list and yes, you actually have to call some of them.  Remember, this list was given to you by the contractor, so take it for what it is.  I recommend you call the last ones on the list.  The first ones might be sick of getting the calls. 

Now, take it one step further.  Ask for the name and number of someone whose house they just worked on if possible.  If not, ask for the last 3 they worked on.  You see a good contractor will make friends with all his customers as he works on their house and will work hard at keeping customers happy.  Also, check with the BBB to see if there are any complaints.

Return To Top

Insurance

Insurance is an important requirement for a contractor.  First, it is very expensive.  Especially here in New Jersey.  There are 2 types a contractor should have: Liability and Workman’s CompensationALL contractors must carry liability insurance by law.  Liability covers things like workmanship defects, massive failures, and lawsuits among many other things.  Workers compensation is required by law for any company who has one employee.  If the contractor you hire is a one man show, then workman’s comp insurance is not required.  But if he has employees or subs doing some or all of the work, then it is.  Same drill as above.  CHECK.  Workers comp mainly covers the employee if he gets hurt, but if the contractor doesn’t have it, and someone does get hurt while working on your home, they or their family could come after you.    Some unscrupulous contractors have been known to buy a policy, get the certificate and then cancel the policy.  Ask for a copy of their certificate of insurance to be sent directly from their insurance carrier to you.  If you do get a copy from the contractor, call to verify it is in effect.

Return To Top

Quality expectations

When you talk to past customers, ask about the quality.  Were they satisfied?  Did they do what was expected?  Did they do what they said they were going to?  Talk to the contractor about your quality expectations if you have some.  Have an open dialogue about what constitutes quality.  Part of this equation is being able to talk to the crew while the job is in process.  Check to make sure the crew is doing what the contractor or salesman said they would do.  Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Don’t be offended if he finds it beautiful and you don’t.  If that’s the case, talk about how to resolve it satisfactorily and remember there may be some give or take.  Ultimately, you have the right to a GOOD quality job.  If you get a perfect job, consider yourself ahead.

Return To Top

Your expectations

First and foremost, get in writing what you agree to.  In detail.  This is good for both of you.  Check to see you are getting what you asked for and if you feel your not, ask about it.  For some people, I would ask to mitigate your expectations, or at least make the contractor aware.  What do I mean?  If you don’t want the contractor to show up before 8:00, tell him.  If you expect the floors to be vacuumed at the end of each day, tell him.   Remember, this is a give and take relationship.  If you have followed all the steps above you can simply let them do their job.  Resist micro managing them.  Don’t interfere with their progress.  Yes, I did say that.  As much as I am telling you what to ask of your contractor, I am also saying that some customers are their own worst enemies.  They interfere with the work, impede their progress, hold back money unnecessarily or generally are a pain in the butt.  Don’t be.  If you do your homework as outlined above, then you will have selected the right contractor.  Now, stand back, do your part and let them do their thing!!

Return To Top

Personality and working together

I touched on it earlier, but you will be working with this person for a period of time.  It’s important to get along.  Working on a house is a joint effort.  Some people think that they have to drill the contractor.  You don’t.  Talk to them.  Get a feel for the person.  You want to walk away thinking that you see eye to eye.  You have to do certain things and so does the contractor.  Make sure you do your part.  Don’t treat your contractor like a criminal unless he has given you cause.  Don’t hold back 80% of the money when it’s only 20% of the job remains.  Typically a contractor might ask for a material deposit if the material is special order, like windows, doors, logs, railing, etc…  Otherwise, 1/3rd  at the start of the job, 1/3rd  when the job is ½ done and the balance when the job is substantially complete.  Again, to the percentage rule.  If the job is 95% done, but they are waiting for a special item YOU wanted, don’t penalize them and hold back 1/3.  Pay up to 95%.  And extras are usually paid immediately, not at the end.  Remember, if you did the steps above, you have entered into a trusting relationship.  If you are still working together to the end, things must have gone pretty well.

Return To Top

When things go south

You may have taken all the steps above, but you may not see eye to eye.  When things are not going well, DON’T wait till it’s too late.  Talk to your contractor first.  Ask him what is going on.  What might be the problem?  Be prepared if he says it’s you.  Have an open honest dialogue.  See if you can work it out.  If you can’t, be prepared to pay him for work completed and give him a written separation letter.  Doesn’t have to be emotional, just to the point of saying that ‘x’ work is done, ‘x’ money was paid and to please do not return to the site.

Return To Top

What you should expect to pay

The first rule of price is: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. If you got 3 bids and you hired the cheapest one and didn’t follow the steps above….well, what did you expect?  The second rule is: Pricing usually reflects 3 things:  The contractor’s costs structure, how much time could be spent on your job and how many crews are out working on jobs.   It only goes to figure that the cheapest guy you hired may not have insurance, has hired unskilled labor, takes shortcuts or uses inferior materials.  If you want your contractor to take his time and do a good job, doesn’t it figure that might cost a little more?  Do not let price drive your decision.  Do not be tempted to try to “save” money by hiring the cheapest guy.  Most of the time it ends up costing you more in the long run.  As the saying goes, do it right the first time and hire the right guy.   As to forms of payment, you should have the option of writing a check to the company and you should never have to pay a supplier, cover hotel costs or provide transportation.  These are all bad signs.

Return To Top

Check list

Licensing  Checked out okay? Y         N 
References Checked out okay? Y         N 
Insurance Verified? Y         N 

Anything checked no so far? Stop here and call someone else.

Quality Discussed with contractor? Y         N 
Expectations Discussed with contractor? Y         N 
Personality Got a feel for the guy? Y         N 
Pricing Do you want a cheap job or a good job?  

If they passed the test, your off and running!!

Return To Top

What you should expect of your restoration contractor

We talked above about how to select the right company to restore your house.   Now let’s talk about what you should expect to happen.   First, as we spoke above, you should have a proposal or a contract to spell out what they are going to do.  The following is some of those things;

Corn blasting
Cob blasting or cob gritting are all the same thing.  What is and is not going to be blasted should be listed.  Things like garage, porch ceilings, soffits, fascia, railings or decks.  Whatever you want done, make sure it is listed.  The price should include labor, materials and clean up.  There should be an expectation that this process is going to remove the finish with no additional charges.  As to cleaning up corn cob, even if you pick up 95%, the 5% remaining might be 100 lbs.  But nevertheless, they should put out tarps to help in the recovery and containment.

Rinsing
Anybody that tells you that there is no need to rinse after a blast is taking a short cut.  There are 2 reasons it should be rinsed.  First reason is that you cannot remove any and all mold and fungus with blasting alone.  You have to rinse the house with a mild bleach concentrate in order to kill any fungus, spores or mold that are in the small places blasting can’t get to.  The second reason is that the dust from the blasting cannot be 100% removed by blowing it down with air.  In addition, that dust that remains is what?  Corn cob.  This is food for algae, mold and fungus.  Make sure you get a good job, not a cheap job!

Borate
You should get the house borated between blasting and staining.  This is the only time it can be done as borate needs to be applied to bare wood and you have to let it dry.  Again, time to do it right.  Time to wet the house down, time to apply the borate.  Time is money.  This should be a part of your price.  If it isn’t, ask up front how much to add it to the scope before signing the contract.
 
Staining
Staining should be done as per manufactures specifications.  There are good stain suppliers and bad ones.  Make sure the stain being used is one of the ones who have large ads in Log Home Living as they are more reputable.  Also, talk to your contractor about the application, how many coats and what is the maintenance procedure.  Do not buy a story of how a stain will last 7-10 years with one application.  That would be that fast talking salesman we talked about earlier.

Complete job
Is the contractor going to remove your leaders, lights and phone cables?  Or just stain on or around them?  ASK.  Will they put these back?  Do they tape off everything where you don’t want stain?  ASK.  Do they haul off the debris?  When comparing contracts, look at any other things missing from the cheapest guy so that you can compare apples to apples.

Warranty
The warranty of the contractor must be stated in writing. Do not count on a verbal promise.  That and a dollar and you can’t even buy a Starbucks.

Log repairs
If part of your restoration contract includes log replacement there are a couple of things you should talk about.  There is the species of wood they will be using.  Does it match what your house is made of?  Will they match the color if not?  When they use screws, will you see them?  They should be buried.  Will the new logs be caulked or chinked?  They should be. 

Hidden charges
There shouldn’t be any.  Enough said.

Who are you?
It is always better to select someone who has a good reputation and is local to the area if possible.  If not, at least make sure who you are dealing with has their address listed somewhere.  If it isn’t, be wary.  Also, the person who does your estimate should hand you a business card and should have their name on their vehicles.  And when the crew arrives, they should all be in company vehicles with the name of the company on the side.  If they don’t, be wary.

I hope this guide helps you select the right company for your project and that you become informed enough that you get a good job at a fair price.  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Good Luck,

Scott Alvik

Cabin Doctor LLC
www.cabindoctor.com

 


Home | Repair & Restoration | Remodeling & Additions | Staining & Sealing | Corn Blasting vs. Powerwashing
Maintenance Programs | Consultations | Request an Estimate | Who We Are | Contractor | Links