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1. How does this process work to obtain a quote?
2. How do you communicate with clients during a project?
3. How do your prices compare to the competition?
4. How long have you been in business?
5. Who will be supervising my job?
6. What is the time frame for my project?
7. How do you operate?
8. What time do the crews work?
9. Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance?
10. Are any of your company's employees certified?
11. May I have a list of references for similar projects?
12. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
13. How should I prepare for a meeting with you?
14. Why are some contractor estimates much lower than others?
15. What are the added “hidden” costs of hiring a “budget” remodeling company?

1. How does this process work to obtain a quote? Remodeling is a complicated and potentially frustrating process.  At Chad’s Carpentry, we have developed a three-step approach to help homeowners understand their options, improve the accuracy of project costing prior to the construction contract, and ultimately, maximize the return on investment (ROI) for the homeowner.

Step 1: Consultation and Initial Estimate.  Upon your request, we will schedule an initial meeting to discuss your project at your home, which allows Chad to identify the scope of the job, discuss budgets, and determine if your project and our company are a good fit.  Typically, at the end of the first meeting, Chad will schedule a second, follow-up appointment, so that he can meet with you in one to two weeks to present estimates for your project, and a design agreement. If you would like to move forward to obtain detailed pricing and/or design services, then we are happy to perform those services as part of our design agreement.

Step 2: The Design Process.  The Design Agreement allows us to design intelligently and price accurately.  The Design Agreement does not obligate you to build or remodel with us; however, the end result of our design process will be the presentation of a detailed Construction Contract.  (Step 3)

The Design Process is perhaps the most important part of remodeling; by providing a thorough and knowledgeable design experience, we help to assure that your project will be thoughtfully designed, using materials and practices which optimize your return-on-investment by creating a comfortable, durable, energy-efficient, and healthy space to live in.  Simply put, the well-built home is cheaper to live in:  cheaper to maintain because it lasts a long time (and is backed up by a comprehensive warranty, just in case); is cheaper to heat and cool; and is cheaper to live in for the occupants, because their health is not compromised by unhealthy components and careless workmanship.

Once we have a design agreement, we conduct a thorough assessment of your home to determine what challenges and opportunities exist, such as the need for updating mechanical systems; improving energy-efficiency and indoor air quality, or zoning limitations.  Our staff conducts assessments of the building and surrounding property, and our Home Performance evaluator will conduct a thorough assessment of the home.  The findings from these assessments will be used to guide design, specification, and pricing for the project.  Our goal is to include as many potential costs as can be determined during the design phase, so that you can initiate the construction with accurate budget expectations.

We partner with some of the best design professionals in the Madison area.  Depending on the scope of your project, we will bring in the designer whom we think is best- suited to design and collaborate with you on your project.  Once we have a working, conceptual design that you like, we revisit the initial budgets to assure that the scope of the project has not changed significantly, and we begin to work with you to specify the details of the project.  With design refinements, selections, and further assessment taking place, we work to finalize the budgets, and to create a detailed Construction Contract.

The cost of the Design Process varies depending on the scope of the project.  Typically, design phase accounts for 5-7% of the total project costs, so a typical $100,000 addition would have design fees between $5000 – 7000.  While such cost might seem expensive, this important work has great value:  accurate budgets; excellent design; maximum return-on-investment; better planning by the contractor; better decision making by the homeowner.

Step 3:  Construction Contract:
Signing the Construction Contract is the final step which initiates scheduling a start date for your project.  We pride ourselves on creating accurate contracts; realistic schedules; and systematic quality control to assure an outstanding end result.  For most projects, we have a fixed price contract, which outlines the scope of work to be completed, and the cost to complete the job.  We have a clear Change Order procedure which allows us to determine the cost of changes and additions to the project, so that you can approve of these changes prior to initiating any changes in the project.

Occasionally, we do enter into Time and Material agreements, with clear hourly rates and markups for our material and subcontractor costs.  This type of arrangement tends to favor the builder, since we do not risk losing money if things take longer.  If a job needs to start and we are unable to clarify the scope of work at the beginning, then we may decide mutually to have a Time and Materials Contract.

2. How do you communicate with clients during a project? We pride ourselves on outstanding communication and accessibility before, during, and after a project is completed. All of our staff have cell phones and voice mail to communicate urgent messages, enabling you to reach our staff during the business day. All of our office staff (and some of our carpenters) utilize email for most communication; we prefer email so that we can keep a documented record of decisions and concerns as they arise.

Our Project Manager is involved on larger projects (lasting more than one week) prior to finalizing the contract, and he will be in contact with you throughout the remodeling process to assure quality workmanship, accurate implementation of the contract, and your complete satisfaction with the work we are performing.

We typically leave a Daily Jobsite Log at your home, where everyone should check daily for notes and messages. This works very well for homeowners who are not around to see our staff during the day, to communication questions and decisions between our staff and you.

Every job is assigned a Lead Carpenter from our staff, and that individual will work with you to finalize and clarify any details that need to be resolved as the project progresses. We consult with each other on staff whenever creative problem solving is required. We understand the importance of doing things right, and our staff has so much talent and experience, that we cannot help but collaborate to achieve the best end result for our clients.

3. How do your prices compare to the competition? When we have bid against other quality-conscious remodeling companies on the same job, our bids have been competitive.  However, we NEVER low-ball our free estimates to win your business.  We pride ourselves on offering realistic estimates, based on our considerable experience and knowledge in the industry.  We will NOT cut corners; we remodel every house as if it were our own house.  We understand the challenges and additional costs associated with remodeling homes, and we build these costs into our initial estimates.  We are also committed to winning your trust and your repeat business; which is hard to do if we end up adding lots of “unexpected charges” to the project after the contract has been signed.

We are happy to design a project that fits your budget if we find that you are either unwilling or unable to invest as much as it would take to build the project that you originally envision.  However, we will let you know if your budget and project are not compatible.

Every year, a few homeowners will call to tell us that they regretted NOT hiring us;  they hired someone who told them that the job could be done for less, and then learned the hard way about the high cost of budget remodeling.  Often, they tell me, the job ended up to be just as expensive as I had estimated, AND the quality of the work done by the other contractor was not as good as they knew our work to be.

We are proud to offer quality work at a fair price; we find that our clients are pleased with the investment they have made in their home by working with Chad’s Carpentry.

4. How long have you been in business? Chads Design Build was started in the summer of 1992. Over the years, our commitment to quality design and craftsmanship has contributed to our growth.

5. Who will be supervising my job? Chad will come and meet with you to discuss your ideas and to plan your project. Chad will write your bid. During the Design Process, Chad and his team of design and construction professions will work with you to design, specify, and price your project.  Our Project Manager will assist you in this process, and when you decide to start the project, he will be in contact with you throughout the remodeling process to assure quality workmanship, accurate implementation of the contract, and your complete satisfaction with the work we are performing.  Finally, when your project begins, one of our lead carpenters will be the main person on your job. He or she will be consistently present at your home, and always available to you by cell phone.

6. What is the time frame for my project? With every bid, we include an approximate starting date. Once we start your job, it is our goal to coordinate our crew and our subcontractors to finish as quickly as possible, while demanding quality work.

7. How do you operate? We have a full time staff of 6 carpenters who will do much of the work on your project.  Additionally, we have 5 office personnel who are involved in managing your project.  Tasks such as excavation, electrical, plumbing, insulation, and drywall installation will be performed by high quality certified subcontractors with whom we have worked for years.

8. What time do the crews work? We generally begin our day at 7:30 and end at 5:00. However, we work with each client to determine good starting times for their family.

9. Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Absolutely. In addition, we provide our employees with health insurance benefits, a retirement plan, and other important benefits.

10. Are any of your company's employees certified? Trade certifications are good indicators of dedication, professionalism and knowledge of the industry. Currently, Chad is a NARI Certified Remodeler and several of our lead carpenters have earned the NARI Certified Lead Carpenter certification. We are proud of them!

11. May I have a list of references for similar projects? Of course - for every type of project we do, we have clients willing to talk with you about the process of remodeling and the experience of working with us.

12. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business? Previous clients have referred 90% of our current clients. In addition, we do a great many projects for repeat clients. This shows how satisfied they are!

13. How should I prepare for a meeting with you? Here are some ideas to make our first appointment go smoothly:
Gather lots of ideas! Look in magazines or attend home shows.
Clearly identify specific rooms to be remodeled with as much detail as possible.
List all the possible questions you may have.
Do you have an idea about a budget? If so let us know!

14. Why are some contractor estimates much lower than others? Many times, remodeling contractors provide estimates that vary by a large amount in price.  The reasons for lower-cost estimates can be varied:  The scope of the work being bid is less (which is not often clear); the quality of the materials or the installation methods are inferior to the more expensive quote; the low-cost contractor may not understand the complexity of the project; or the contractor may be engaging in rose-colored-glasses low-ball bidding to win your business, knowing that extra costs are likely to be assessed as the project unfolds.  Lastly, perhaps the contractor will not be very attentive to cleanliness, or to managing your project so that things occur on schedule, resulting in more mess, chaos, and disruption.  In the end, you really do get what you pay for.  At Chad’s Carpentry, we pride ourselves on providing realistic estimates, and thorough proposals, so that all of the project costs (known and unknown) are on the table prior to you signing a contract.  We understand that some clients will hire “cheaper” contractors.  But we are confident that offer a better value in the end.

15. What are the added “hidden” costs of hiring a “budget” remodeling company? As stated above, “budget” remodeling often ends up costing more than expected.  We do our best to be honest and thorough from the start.  More importantly, a “budget” remodel will cost more to live in and maintain.  Higher maintenance costs and higher gas and electricity bills will offset the “savings” of a budget remodel.  Chaotic scheduling and longer disruptions at your home are common horror stories associated with our industry, but these problems are typically associated with the “budget” remodeling company.  The frustration of living with inferior work is also hard to quantify. In the long run, lower energy and maintenance costs will save more money than the added initial investment, so you will end up spending less money to have a quality-built, energy-efficient, and healthier home improvement.  “Budget” remodelers only exist because homeowners do not understand the risks and extra costs associated with hiring these individuals. edit
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