Monday, December 27, 2010

Contractor Interview #1

Just when I was about to start slandering all over this non-gossip site as 5:30 came and went without so much as a call from the late general contractor, he arrived - and knocked our socks off.

He was late...STRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIKE. I can't stand when people are late (yes, I am notoriously late)...but this was to impress us, woo us, make us see stars with a presentation that was above and beyond anything we had ever seen before. And...he was late. ARGH! I called at 5:45 saying, 'WHERE THE HECK ARE YOU?', I didn't, but it was an honest mistake to which he took full responsibility and apologized profusely. Ok...we are back on track...but this better be good!

We started off the meeting with a tour of the house. He got his bearings with what was where and we filled him in on little details (a seeping foundation, move plumbing here or there, etc, etc). Then we sat down and the conversation began. He told us a bit about his company (he owns it along with a business partner), told us the types of renovations they do, the scale of work they take on, the age of homes they do, the quality of their craftsmanship, etc. He touched on a few key points that left a strong impression on us - here's what they were:

- They have found through experience that it's most beneficial for both he and his business partner to be on-site - everyday - with a tool belt on doing the work. It's most beneficial for them financially and also in terms of actually managing the project. This hit home for both Jeff and I as this is a similar mentality that Jeff's dad has when it comes to the drug store..."If you own a business, you need to be at it all the time" - Paul Schaffer.
- They want to work with people who care about the project and care about quality craftsmanship...not just getting the job done.
- They take on no more than two projects at a time in order to be able to properly manage them and get the results that they want.
- They work with the same sub-contractors on all of their projects. They know them, know their work and will stand behind it.
- They only work on projects that have an architect involved.
- He's married, with two kids and lives 10 blocks from us (and commented on how cute Gloria is...but then said he didn't think she was fussy...STRRRRRRRRRRRRRIKE...he he;-)!

So from here, he will be bringing in all of his sub-contractors next week to individually bid out the project. From there, it will be another 10 days before we get our estimate back. He said he virtually needs to build the project in his head in order to know how many hours each person puts in in order to properly project a number. The soonest they would be able to start (due to their current work load) is 6 weeks. But if you consider that it's essentially 3 weeks to get a number back...waiting only 3 weeks after that wouldn't be much, especially considering we need to get the whole main floor packed BACK UP. Finally, he projected our project would take 4 months and that if we could tolerate it, there would really only be one week that we couldn't actually be living in the house (during the demo phase when the led based paint would be floating around).

We closed the door behind him, exchanged a giddy gaze and melted as we bid farewell to the man of our dreams. But seriously, Jeff and I both really liked him. He was a laid back (but not too laid back), particular, detail oriented, visionary who clearly had a passion for what he did. He also had a passion for Minneapolis, older homes, the neighborhood itself and pride in his previous work that left us wanting more. He promised a bid, a set of references and the promise of a new kitchen on the horizon;-)

Tomorrow night is our next meeting with the second contractor. We decided to start by interviewing two - if we didn't feel as though we clicked with any, we would dig deeper into the list our architect sent us. I think after tonight we know that won't be necessary. More to come...time to google the heck out of his name!

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