I was thinking how lucky I am... that with this project, once again my guardian angel has stepped in and blessed this effort. It's going to turn out great. It's a joy to me to look forward to each day of construction, happy in the confidence that if a problem comes up, my contractor and I will work through it together, and there is nothing to really fear. No one is trying to cover anything up. I can sit in my office and focus on MY job, knowing that my team is focusing on THEIR job and will do it well.
My project lead, Jesus, (yes, it IS a comfort to know he is in charge of my renovation! ;-) ) introduced me to the tile setters today. They don't speak a lot of English but are clearly in absolute command of their task, and have worked with enough designers that they can hand hold me through the process of deciding what I want, where. I don't have to worry about their work or check on them every 5 minutes. The mutual trust among team members on this project speaks for itself. They've all worked together before.
I hear of so many homeowners who are not ultimately happy with their contractor team. A friend of mine is having a home custom built - a huge project! The communication between him and his Builder has nearly reached the point of litigation. There is no trust or sense of team work between them, so what should be a once in a lifetime, really exciting project, is a nightmare. Stress loads are through the roof. His contract is forcing him to proceed to buy a house that is not what he wanted or expected. What an awful thing.
Thinking of this is why I feel so fortunate. Did I just get lucky? Maybe a little? But I think my contractor selection criteria worked well for me.
1. I searched the internet for good reviews of contractors, including sites like Yelp, Facebook and NextDoor. I gave brownie points to contractors who answered home owner questions on social sites in a useful and kind way. This is how I stumbled across Martin Kujawa, (Kujawa Construction) the contractor I eventually chose. He went out of his way to answer questions people had, in a very kind way, without pitching his own services. He gave the impression of being a good person who was just trying to help.
2. After I compiled a list of possible companies. based on my internet search, I called each of them. If they didn't call me back within 24 hours, I crossed them off my list.
3. I did make the mistake of contacting Angi's List for recommended contractors, and as a result had to spend hours blocking text messages and emails as I got completely spammed by their marketing team. The contractors they tried to connect me with were frantic for business in a time when reputable contractors were so busy it was hard to get a call back. I wouldn't try that path again.
4. I asked hard questions that I already knew the answer to, and pushed for low cost estimates when I already had an idea what the project would cost. If a contractor caved and said they could probably get it done for that lower price, I ruled them out. The ones that held firm to the price they (and I) knew was correct impressed me.
5. It's fine for a contractor to be busy, but if they are so busy that they can't take the time to answer your questions (boy I had a lot of questions) then at least for me, they were not a good fit. The ones who consistently called back quickly and answered my questions intelligently won extra points.
Your mileage may vary, but this process worked really well for me, at least this time. But hey, in spite of it having been time consuming to find the right contractor, I am happy because now I can relax about the construction going on - I have complete faith that the result will be amazing, and each day of work reinforces that. We've had a few things go wrong (those damn joists) - it's an old old house after all - but we've worked, together, through the problems and resolved them all. I already know I will be using this same team for any future projects that come up. What a great feeling! And every time a payment is due, Martin brings me doughnuts. 'Nuff said.
Oh - the floor will be mostly done today .... here's some photos of how it is going...