Hiring a general contractor for a new home, basement finish or bathroom remodel is highly recommended by any local building department as well as any bank or financial advisor you may be using. This is pretty well understood, however, what is not as well understood is the vital role he/she will play throughout your project and why picking the highest rated General Contractor is CRITICAL.
To dig into this further we need to understand what a General Contractor is. By definition, a general contractor is a manager, and possibly a tradesman, employed by the client on the advice of the architect, engineer or the client him/herself if acting as the manager. A general contractor is responsible for the overall coordination of a project. Now that we know “what” a general contractor is, lets understand what they will be responsible for and why it is essential to know and trust whomever you are hiring. A general contractor is responsible first and foremost to you, the owner, and to the building department for the completion of any and all permits/inspections. As such the general contractor is responsible to facilitate and coordinate the completion of all related tasks/sub contracts set forth by the building department and in accordance with the “code” for the completion of the permit and all inspections within the allotted period of time given. This is pretty well understood, here is what you may not be aware of. Did you know that the building department does not inspect the quality of the workmanship or the quality of the materials being used? Why is that important…you may ask? Well if the building department isn’t inspecting the quality of the job that was done nor the quality of the materials being used…what are they inspecting, and who does inspect for those things?
The building departments role in the permit process is simple – inspect the work performed to be in accordance with the code as laid out in the guidelines under the permit. Let me give you an example…framing by code CAN be up to 24″ O.C. (On Center) and that is all that is required. We all know that 16″ O.C. is more beneficial and of a higher quality construction, however it is not required by code. Also the quality of the lumber being used is not a requirement. An example of this is Douglas fir vs. Hem fir lumber. Douglas fir will have far fewer knots in the wood and will generally be straighter when framing than hem fir and most Douglas fir you purchased will be stored indoors or very well protected from the weather. However, most builders use Hem fir because it is a lot cheaper and is not something a homeowner will notice or care about…that is until later on when they see how wavy and out of square they are over time. My point is that these items are not inspected by the building department and are only going to be addressed by the General Contractor. Every item under the permit has examples to go along with this, HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Tile, Etc. Every one of these items are only given guidelines to stay within to satisfy the permit, quality of the work performed and quality of the materials is not something inspected unless it is in violation of the code and needs to be altered or repaired to meet that specific code requirement.
KNOW YOUR CONTRACTOR not just the company he/she is working for! It is absolutely critical to know the principles and ethics your general contractor operates under. Furthermore, it is equally important to know the level of quality that your general contractor is known for through reviews, etc. Your general contractor will be the only individual on the project that will have the means and authority to dictate to the sub contractors to do the job right, correct mistakes made, use the proper quality materials and ensure that quality is maintained throughout the project. Most general contractors in town are very lazy…they simply call the sub contractors and ask how things are going without ever stepping foot on the job, unless to walk the job with you, the owner, and put in “face time” as we call it. It is imperative that you hire a contractor that will be there during EVERY step of the process, going through the hurdles with the subcontractors to ensure a high level of understanding is present when critical decisions are being made and the “authority” is there to make sure no one is over stepping their bounds or providing inadequate fixes to the problem that no one would catch. Let me give you an example. We were building a custom home for a client whom hired another contractor to handle the beginning erection of the foundation and “rough” construction inside which we would then take over all of the interior finishes so the homeowner knew the quality was in the finish work. During the rough construction phase, the HVAC was improperly installed and instead of fixing the problem properly, the general contractor shrugged it off saying “thats not something the building department would ever catch, so what do I care!” Leaving the mistake for our company to fix during the finish stages of the project, which we absolutely did knowing it was wrong.
Everlasting Homes is dedicated to ensuring the highest quality workmanship and materials are used throughout the project and that is why we are brought along side many homeowners today to inspect and finish what some builders just could not. We will design everything with you in person at our design centers, we will walk the project with you weekly so that you are aware of every aspect of the project and answer all of your questions as they come up. If you are looking for a Custom Home, ask us about our custom home program. We partner with a very well respected builder in town that will erect the structure for us and we will finish all of the interior for you at a very reasonable price but maintain our companies highly awarded quality. If you are looking for a custom or simple basement finish, we invite you to try us out. We offer FREE plans and design consultations and have won every major award in Southern Colorado for our basement finish work. We promise that we will help you in any way that we can, even if that means referring you to someone else in the event we do not do the work you are wanting.
Thanks for reading,
Due diligence-is an investigation of a business or person prior to signing a contract, or an act with a certain standard of care. It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations.
I cannot stress enough the importance of Due Diligence in this day in age. We have become so savvy with technology and online manipulation that it seems ANYONE can be good at something if they have money. Let me explain. When you research a company, the first area you will probably search will be “online reviews” correct? Well did you know that companies can pay 3rd party individuals and organizations to write positive 5 star reviews on large forums like Google, Home Advisor, etc.? Don’t believe me…take a deep look into many of our competitors online especially over a months time period. You will notice the negative reviews disappear and out of NOWHERE there is dozens to well over 40 positive reviews within a 1 month time period. How in the world is that possible??? Well, they are paying for the negative reviews to be removed and the same company to replace those negative reviews with positive ones. This happens more than you may realize.
There is actually a very dishonest company right here in Colorado Springs that has been sued many times and they are on the front page of Google. One individual who reached out to us for help actually said they had written 2 negative reviews online, both were never published or immediately removed. When asking why, the review company replied “the company reached out prior to you writing the review and warned us that this was a dishonest disgruntled homeowner that didn’t have a valid complaint!” Wow!!!
So this is the way it works, if the company thinks that the homeowner MAY write the review negatively, they can have it removed prior to it ever being posted to the public just as long as they get there first. Furthermore, there are companies online that actually make a living removing and replacing negative reviews with positive reviews. If you look on Google for basement finishing company Colorado Springs I want you to take note of a couple things. If you look closer into some of the main companies that come up you will notice they have several different accounts on companies like Houzz or Yelp that are spelled slightly different. This is to cover up any prior accounts they had containing a lot of negative reviews that would cost too much to remove. To argue even further, type in some of those companies names in the google search bar and you will pull up “…horrible company” or “….why can’t I write a negative review” in the search bar. Well you can’t write that review because they are paying thousands per month so that they look perfect which many people who didn’t do their Due Diligence buy into it only to be fooled and regret that decision later.
The biggest rule of thumb is get an ACTIVE referral list from the company. What do we mean by this? This referral list has the names of individuals that they are currently working for and homeowners they just finished up within the same genre you are looking to hire them for. Obviously you wouldn’t care to talk to a referral about a deck when your looking to remodel your kitchen, so get qualified referrals. This allows you to get the dirt on them from people they are currently working for and there isn’t anything they can hide at that point. This is something we provide for every homeowner who is interested in using us. They can even cross reference the names on the referral list with our reviews that we showcase online and on our website to see that these are real people in Colorado Springs and weren’t purchased reviews.
Also, sign up for companies like Angies List. Companies like Angies List do an excellent job in filtering out the horrible companies by awarding the good companies with awards that only the true good and honest companies can achieve. We have won their highest awards every year we have been with them. Even one step further, look up their names on the Colorado Department of Labor and see if they have good standing with the state. You may be surprised what you can find here on some of our competitors. Lastly, it is always a good idea to see or have a copy of the companies insurance as well to make sure that your greatest investment, your home, is well covered in the event something were to go wrong.
The other areas where Due Diligence is essential is the contract itself. KNOW WHAT IS BEING BID! All to often we will hear from a client that they want us to match another competitors bid. When we ask to see the bid and if the bid is for the same scope and apples for apples, they homeowner always say yes…same scope and apples for apples. EVERY single time we look at a competitors bid, we notice a mountain of shady half truths about what is being bid and no real clear understanding of what the bid even comes with. There has to be a clear understanding of what is being bid with either a clear list of the items to be provided or an allowance for all of the items to be provided. Also, don’t hesitate asking about the crew they hire. The truth of the matter is, in most cases the salesman might talk a great game but he isn’t the installer. Know the quality of the installers and the team as well before you get into the position of regretting the decision you made. We say all to often that its easy to get a cheaper bid. Just hire cheaper quality laborers and contractors that don’t take pride in their work (easy to do these days) or just use cheaper lower quality materials.
Lastly, get a guaranteed price! A good contractor will know what needs to be done, what codes need to be enforced and how to accomplish the task without getting in over his head and going back to you for more money. If there isn’t a guarantee or a VERY good explanation that can be confirmed as to why there isn’t a guarantee, DO NOT SIGN WITH THEM. It won’t take you very long to read some incredibly horrible stories online about dishonest contractors. There aren’t very many honest, reliable and trustworthy contractors left unfortunately so it may take some real searching to find the honest ones but once you do…you have a builder for life and the peace of mind that goes with it.
Thanks for reading,
We’ve all heard the saying, “you get what you pay for,” and all to often we don’t actually take a step back and really think about how that can apply in our every day lives. Most of us would agree that we want quality, and are willing to pay more to have the peace of mind that everything was done on time, on budget, and completed exactly the way it was discussed. However, when discussing your biggest investment…our homes…for some strange reason we tend to have a mentality of “I can do that myself” or “lets go with the cheapest guy, I’m sure he’ll do just as good a job.” Let me put this in a way I think appeals to all of us. If you were looking at two identical menus from two different sources offering the same dish, one was offering quality ingredients cooked by trained professionals and the other was a street vender with very little experience using left over ingredients. Whom would you rather eat from? Would you pay the extra money to have a good experience, knowing that quality ingredients were being used and cooked by trained professionals? Of course you would! Why then do we revert back to the mindset of finding the cheap guy who we know isn’t offering the same quality materials as the good companies and who doesn’t offer fixed prices or warranties when we want to hire someone to work on our homes?
Peace of mind is not just a nicely coined phrase…it is way of life and sometimes we need to condition our minds to allow ourselves the luxury of living this way. We hear it almost on a weakly basis that a homeowner has had a bad previous experience with either another competitor of ours in town, or another contractor in another town. Those that have gone through these experiences almost always come out the other side saying “I wish to God I had just gone with the other guy, the money I saved going with these guys was in no way worth what we have been through!”
At Everlasting Homes, we only hire the best in town and use only the quality materials that we would use on our own homes. When you hire us to do your project, you hire individuals who represents your best interests and whom works diligently to ensure the highest quality and attention to detail were applied in every aspect of the project. Now that does come at a cost even to us. We pay more to use good, honest, reputable and reliable people. It may sound strange but honest, reliable people are hard to come by and when we do find them…we make sure that they are blessed and rewarded for those rare traits. In some cases, we are more expensive than some of our competitors in town but that is because again we only the hire the best and only use quality material. I tell individuals over the phone all the time that if you want a cheaper estimate…well thats easy…my competition can explain it best… “just hire cheap laborers and use cheap material”. Now they MAY use higher quality material for the areas that you will see the most like granite countertops. But what about the areas you don’t see…like the plumbing or the electrical, or perhaps the framing. Are they using quality materials and hiring quality people for those areas? Well those areas aren’t visible at all and are all covered up by framing, right? Ask yourself… “How important are those areas?” Well…have you ever had a pipe burst because it wasn’t installed properly or electrical go out in your home or start a fire…what about over the years noticing how out of square your walls are when moving furniture or hanging up pictures? Well those are all areas that contractors can hire cheap individuals and use cheap materials that you won’t even know about for a couple years and that’s the catch, you only have a 1 year warranty so to them, well, it only needs to last as long as the warranty.
We offer a 3 year warranty for this very reason. Our warranty is a testament to our devoted attention to detail, superior use of quality products and representation of quality craftsmanship in every home we touch. We are dedicated to not meet your expectations….but to exceed them! It is very hard to relay how passionate we are about our trade to someone who has just meeting us for the first time and who has met with many other contractors who all say “they are the best.” This is why there are reviews and websites designed to allow homeowners the opportunity to cast a review about their experiences with that company. Unfortunately in today’s economic environment, there is now a level of dishonesty even in these websites who do not truly representing an accurate account of the company but are in fact writing reviews for the company who has hired that individual website for marketing. We have seen first hand a couple of our competitors go through lawsuits and have had homeowners write unbelievably negative reviews warning others about using them but can you find any of those reviews…NO! They have paid for specialized companies to wipe those reviews off their records and then paid for another company to write reviews in their place. DO YOUR DO DILIGENCE! You will find some of the first companies that show up on Google have done just this. We actually have documentation on a few companies that homeowners reached out to us to help them finish a project they hired these other companies to do. They had explained that they had written numerous complaints and reviews…all of which were wiped off the internet within 45 days. Our company has NEVER had a single negative review on any forum, website, or social media in its history and have never paid for any company to remove reviews to write them! This can also be verified by our referral list, which we give to every client at our initial in home consultation. You will see that the referral list matches the names identically with the names listed on each review given online about us. Furthermore, any of our previous clients would love to tell you in person about their experience and confirm that they were in fact the authors of those reviews.
The truly only website that we have found that cannot be manipulated with regards to reviews is Angies List. If a company has diligently been acknowledged for their excellence in customer service and was awarded with the “Super Service Award”…they earned it! Interestingly enough too, Angies List made it a little more difficult for 2016 to achieve this award so that only the true Experts in Customer Service and Quality Contractors would be further distinguishable from the competition. Of all of our main competitors on Angies List, we were the ONLY company to receive this award for 2016 and maintain the Super Service Award for every year we have been a member. Now this doesn’t mean we are perfect and wield a golden hammer that can fix anything by swinging it like Fix it Felix Jr. from the movie Wreck it Ralph as feature in the cover photo for this blog. One thing I can promise you though, we will always honor our agreements and stand by you until the end to ensure that you are happy and we have exceeded all of your expectations for your project. Come be a part of the Everlasting Experience and call Today for a Free In Home Estimate.
Thanks for reading,
We say all to often that Quality isn’t an optional upgrade for us here at Everlasting Homes, it is a way of life…a state of mind and the foundation of our company. As such, we expect the highest quality work from any of our required sub contractors such as HVAC Technicians, Electrical Contractors, Plumbing Contractors, Framers etc. and will only use premium materials to go along side them. A key point to make though when considering the cost to finish your basement is not just “What quality of materials or allowances are we getting?” But also “What quality of workers are you bringing throughout the project to install that quality material?” These are very important factors when selecting a contractor. You wouldn’t put cheap cruddy tires on your expensive car would you? What good then is quality material without the right experts to install it. There are two ways to get a cheaper bid from a company. The contractor hires cheap labor or uses cheap materials. Quality work is represented through the small little, unforeseen details throughout a project. Details such as “what type of lumber is being used, Douglas Fir or Hem Fir” can make the world of difference in the end. At Everlasting, we assume that everyone wants their job completed using quality materials and labor and many times we are more expensive because we assumed wrong.
We love smaller projects and don’t shy away from small jobs at all, however there are some things to consider about smaller projects. Lets say for argument sake that you have a 1,000 sq.ft. basement with a single full bathroom which will be plumbed exactly where it is roughed in. The plumbing for that project would cost the exact same for that 1,000sq.ft. project as it would in a 400 sq.ft. project with the same bathroom layout as the 1,000sq.ft. basement. The point being, if your looking for a “Cost per Square Foot” number, you can see that this will change dramatically by the job. Since the cost is the same in the 400 sq.ft. basement as the 1,000sq.ft. basement, you can mathematically deduce that the cost per sq.ft. is therefore much higher in the smaller job than in the larger job. Furthermore, looking at ceiling heights can dramatically change an estimate to. Lumber is sold in 8′ and 10′ lengths for the most common basement ceiling heights in Colorado. Furthermore, drywall comes in 4′ wide sheets. Therefore if you have 9′ ceilings instead of 8′ ceilings, there will be a lot of waste as no one sells materials in 9′ increments so there is a lot more drywall and framing costs to finish a basement with 9 foot ceilings raising the cost per sq.ft. Ultimately what we are getting at is…every job is unique and you should know what unique features your job has that can either raise or lower the price. Don’t look at that as a bad thing though. Those with higher ceilings, while the costs are higher to finish, have a much more open floor plan once finished and therefore retain a higher resale value than those with 8 foot ceilings.
Lets talk about installing a bar or other optional upgrades in your basement. Bars are tricky because of 2 factors that we get asked a lot. “How much does this cost” and “Will we get our money back when we sell one day?” Lets dissect this for a minute and first properly label what a bar really is. A bar is a small Kitchen, using kitchen cabinets, countertops and in many times kitchen appliances. Therefore a bar can be a kitchenette, a themed space like an Irish Pub, or just a simple space to have a cocktail with some friends. Determining which of these you are looking for is the first step. In answering the more critical question…”what does that cost?” Its funny because anyone can agree that when spending money for a kitchen, they will spend $20,000 – $30,000 without blinking an eye because that space has a higher expected value to them. However, when discussing a full size kitchenette or themed bar, there is some expectation that the price will be really cheap compared to a kitchen. This is funny because the same materials and labor are used in both applications. The best way to design a bar is to first establish a budget you would like to stay within. This gives us a starting point to know what quality cabinets to put you in and what quality of countertop you will be able to afford. It also allows us to know your expectations without blindsiding you with a bid that you would have never guessed would add up to the same cost as your kitchen, even though they are the same size. Now to answer the question about ROI (return on investment). Simple bars, believe it or not, will not give you a significant return on your investment because they are a dime a dozen and no one really takes any notice to them and probably won’t even remember seeing the bar when looking at the home when it comes time to sell. Only install a simple bar because of the use you can get out of it. The depreciation for that simple bar is as high as a car, which doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that new toy, it just gives you an expectation that isn’t far fetched later down the road when you’re ready to sell. Themed bars and Kitchenettes however, will retain their value and in many ways appreciate the value of the home. A basement that is centered around an exciting and creative bar, like the photo below, transforms that space and therefore is memorable and translates into value. Furthermore, kitchenettes can be very valuable because of the usability of that space to be converted into a mother in law suite, a vacation rental space, or a second living area. With this option being more and more profitable and popular, this also translates into value when discussing re-sale.
The final thought to leave you with…
Never shy away from creating an exiting and fun design for your new space. Ultimately, when looking at re-sale, you need your home to stand out among the competition. Show the buyer something they won’t see in any other similar model and that excitement to own something unique will translate into higher value and shorter times on market and hey…you get to enjoy that space too, as long as you have it. These little creative touches don’t have to be the $30,000 bars, they can be simple niche arched accents, or creative 45 degree angled walls that are much softer to look at and don’t cost very much to stand out amongst the competition.
Call us to help you design that one of a kind space, we will always help you determine the right course of action to take for you and your family to enjoy for years to come.
I remember the first time I walked into this clients home, being escorted down by a medical doctor professing how challenging this project was going to be for me and how his family member was an architect and couldn’t come up with any ideas for the space. Thinking to myself, “I am sure its not that bad, I’ve always been able to design something right away, this won’t be any different.” Wow…he wasn’t joking. The basement was already finished but with a heavy 1980’s themed design and crazy outdated floor plan. There were some very challenging features to the basement too that made it hard to imagine. 45 degree angled exterior walls and jack posts right in the middle of the space. “How in the world am I going to get this one to work?” After about 2 hours of just looking at the space, and assuring the homeowner that I can figure this out, I finally got! The really large stoned arched ent
rance into the bar is actually hiding 2 huge posts that were difficulty #1. The angled exterior wall I will turn into a theatre wall with LED backlit theatre posters. The awkward space under the stairs hiding the electrical panel, I will turn into a Wine Cellar just next to the bar entrance with a side bar for wine tasting. The front of the bar in between the awkward 2 posts I will design a curved stone countertop to sit up at and enjoy the game. Design done and the homeowner couldn’t be happier. Hard part…executing this crazy design in such an awkward space. As you can see from the images, job well done. Turned out to be one of my all time favorite jobs. I would show a before picture but you honestly won’t believe its even the same home…actually why not show you how unbelievable this transformation was. The last photo is the before with the same angle as the previous photo. Thanks Wolfe Family for your faith in me and allowing us the opportunity to design and finish this project for you all.
When designing this basement, my client requested an over the top, Irish themed bar, with an Old World influence. I’ve always been a sucker for arches in my designs, and I wanted to incorporate the reclaimed wood within the bar itself to give that earthy, wood-meets-stone look, but I had to figure out how I could use them both together without making the bar look boxed in. So I figured out how to build the arches within the bar wall, using the stone to frame the wood. I loved this basement finish of mine so much, I used the same idea for my own basement (see previous pictures), and my client is pretty darn happy with it as well! I design all of my own work, as well as, build it.