Hiring a Contractor to Design and Build Your Project Can be a Challenge
Asking Plenty of Questions and Always Getting the Answers in Writing
Will Make Your Decision a Lot Less Stressful
We are often asked these questions by our customers and prospective customers.
We believe that asking every contractor you meet very specific questions is a proven way to learn about their reputation, financial condition, service record, warranty and much more. Asking lots of questions and getting the answers in writing will help you eliminate companies that don’t have the experience or that might not have the best reputation.
At Hochuli Design & Remodeling Team we welcome the steps taken by the State of Arizona to protect homeowners from unscrupulous contractors.
Asking questions and requesting that the contractor provide their answers in writing helps to weed out unscrupulous contractors that take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.
Here is one example: instead of simply asking if the contractor is licensed in Arizona – ask to see their license and then you can check on the State website to see if they are listed and that their license is current.
Scott and Lorrie welcome your questions. We value our reputation and work hard for our clients every day. We have successfully completed over 500 design build or home remodeling projects in our first 10 years in business in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert and Arcadia.
We understand that success is not an accident. It is based on adherence to quality standards every day.
Ask as many as you want and we will provide you with our written answers at our first meeting. You can reach us via phone or email from 7 AM to 7 PM on normal business days.
We return all unanswered calls within 2 hours during normal business hours.
Reputation and Financial Condition
Yes. Our license numbers are AZ ROC 173428 and AZ ROC 251060.
In Arizona, a contractor must be licensed through the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) to legally perform construction, home repair and remodeling jobs that require a building permit or when the total project cost is $1,000 or more.
When someone contracts without a license, they endanger the health, safety and welfare of the public, undercut licensed contractors who operate legitimately and lawfully, and hurt the entire construction industry. Also, when a homeowner hires someone who is not licensed, they have no recourse through the ROC complaint process or the Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund.
The full text of the requirements can be viewed at the following web page: www.azroc.gov
You may have heard from a friend or an acquaintance that got a “great deal” from a contractor that “does it on the side” or only accepts cash. You can check out the Arizona website and read some horror stories of people that got taken. A contractor that operates outside of the licensing requirements is cheating the government and they are just as likely to cheat you. Avoiding them is just a smart idea.
It may surprise you to learn that in a 2011 survey over 35% of the home remodeling, home improvement and design build companies that advertise in directories were out of business within 5 years.
Some owners have simply closed up one business when they ran into quality or credit problems and then they open up under a similar name.
We recommend that you request the following information from any company you seriously consider hiring.
- Please provide the name of each corporation, Limited Liability Company, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity, which is or has been a home improvement contractor, home remodeling contractor, design build contractor or a new home construction contractor, in which any of the owners are or have been a shareholder, member, partner, or owner during the previous five years.
Hochuli Design & Remodeling Team will supply you with all required information at our first meeting.
Of course we understand that you want to get an idea of the cost of what your project will be. There are dozens and dozens of choices like what type of counter top or cabinets or trim. Trying to come up with an “estimate” or “bid” without knowing all the details is certain to result in an estimate that won’t be very close to the real number.
In order to get a complete understanding of your needs and desires, we meet with you in person and ask very specific questions. We will then create a design for your approval.
Hochuli Design & Remodeling Team will prepare a fixed price proposal as soon as your design work is completed and approved by you.
- Each firm price proposal will provide a detailed breakdown of the materials to be used, the specific line item detail for all tasks associated with the project and a fixed price for the total project.
- We will include the process for change orders for additional work or for changes to the original bid requirements that you request. Unless you approve our written change orders, our price is final.
Contractors that will give you a “ball park” or “free” estimate should be avoided, it just isn’t in your best interest or professional.
If you only ask for 3 references then the answer is most likely no.
- Any design build or home remodeling contractor can come up with some good references. However if you really want to find out if they are the right company for your project, you need to ask for at least 10 references.
- Even small contractors complete 25 projects every couple of years so asking for 10 references shouldn’t be a big deal.
- You can use the information on our References Page to know how to easily check the reputation and service record of any company you are seriously considering.
- If you want to add on for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office, outdoor kitchen or outdoor living area or any other area of your home you should thoroughly check out the references of each contractor.
Yes. Due to the economy in the Phoenix area in the last several years many folks that got laid off or had done handyman work suddenly became full time remodelers or home improvement “experts”. Many commercial companies have also gotten into the residential remodeling market to make ends meet.
- You should be aware that there have been many stories on the web and in local and national publications about trusting homeowners giving a contractor a large deposit and then the contractor goes out of business or simply disappears.
- Design build or home remodeling contractors should have longstanding relationships with their local bank and local suppliers. All of their relationships should be in good standing. Businesses in good standing with the bank and local suppliers get preferential treatment and pricing which helps them stay competitive.
- Companies that are slow to pay their vendors may be using your deposit and funds to pay off other projects and this can lead to unexplained delays in your project.
No. This is another area where some contractors will cut corners and “take a chance that nothing goes wrong”. This is especially true in the challenging economy in the Phoenix area in the last couple of years.
There are 2 ways you can protect yourself:
- Ask to be listed as the certificate holder on a Certificate of Insurance.
- Require that the Certificate of Insurance be sent directly to you by their insurance agent so you get assurance that their coverage is current.
In addition, every home improvement contractor is required to maintain statutory Worker’s Compensation insurance for all employees and it is a good idea for them to carry at least $1,000,000 of Liability insurance per incident.
Our insurance agent will provide you with our documentation so you can feel comfortable that we have current insurance in place.
Note: If the contractor utilizes sub-contractors – they also must meet the same insurance requirements to ensure you are protected.
Arizona also requires a Contractor Bond and a Consumer Protection Bond and our agent will provide the documentation on that as well.
It means that we first design your project and then once you approve the design, we build it:
- Our design process is a formal one and typically includes computer aided drafting (3D-CAD) drawings. Scott knows from experience what works and what won’t work based on the over 500 design build or remodeling projects the company has successfully completed in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert and Arcadia.
- Because we create the design, we know all the details that went into it. It eliminates guesswork and mistakes that are often caused by less formal “back of the envelope” or hand drawn designs many of our competitors use.
- Lorrie Hochuli has over 10 years of design experience and understands the needs and perspective of our clients…especially the women. Even with all of this design experience, she continues her formal and social education to stay ahead of market trends and to create new looks and implement new ideas.
- Whether your dream is to complete a much needed bathroom or kitchen makeover, add a master bedroom suite, complete a multi room renovation project, or build a new home we have the experience to complete your project on time and on budget.
- Read more….
Experience, Service, Installation Processes and Warranties
At Hochuli Design & Remodeling Team we spend extra time up front detailing every aspect of your bid and anticipating potential issues based on Scott’s 20+ years of experience and successfully completing over 500 projects.
- Once you approve the design and make all of your material selections, we provide fixed price agreements for the work specified along with a detailed breakdown of the project. Our price guarantee is easy to understand.
- All project costs including plans, permits and materials are included in our agreements.
- Our written installation processes make it easy for you to make a true apples-to-apples comparison of what we are offering with what our competitors are offering.
This is in sharp contrast to what many of our competitors do.
- Many contractors are reluctant to give you the kind of details we provide. There are many places in a construction project where corners can be cut or inferior materials substituted to make more profit. This is especially true for the low bidders.
- Leaving out required costs or providing unrealistic allowances for key items is a common practice that can leave homeowners with an unexpected increase in the total price of a project. This is a tactic that many design build and home remodeling contractors use to make their proposals appear to have a more favorable price.
- This can result in homeowners paying a lot more than they thought for their project – 20% or more.
- Unfortunately, the homeowner ends up with a lower quality job that will probably last until the warranty runs out and then will begin to fall apart.
This is a very important question to ask to ensure you are getting the “A” team and not the team that is learning on your dime.
- Scott Hochuli and our lead carpenter have an average of 21 years of industry experience. Our lead carpenter will be on your project every day to make sure it is moving toward the promised completion date. Scott gets an update from his lead carpenter at least twice a day and he visits each project multiple times each week to ensure it is completed on time and on budget.
- It is a smart idea to ask very specific questions about the experience of the day-to-day supervisor.
- Ask each supervisor to describe similar projects that they have worked on and what challenges they had to overcome. You might even ask them what they like about renovating and remodeling to make sure they really like what they do.
- With most of the projects we utilize an online, cloud based, scheduling and production system which gives Scott 24 hour access to the construction schedule and to-do’s for the project. See a sample here…..
We use an up-front project schedule, a pre-construction checklist, a formal scheduling system and weekly intensive project updates with you to keep your project on time.
- Scott Hochuli and our lead carpenter will meet with you every week to review the progress of your project in detail. For shorter projects we will provide you with an update every 2 days.
- Scott also meets with or communicates with our lead carpenter every day to review job progress. These meetings are a key way of keeping your project on time and on budget.
- We also provide our clients with multiple ways to contact us via the phone, email, text and fax. Keeping you informed allows you to feel comfortable that progress is being made.
- Our ability to respond is much different than most of our competitors that always seem to be apologizing for not getting back to you sooner. You will often wait for days for a return call or email even on minor issues.
- If you happen to be traveling, we can keep you updated with images of your project.
There are so many more things that we do to keep your project moving toward completion and we will be pleased to share them at our first meeting.
- Scott or Lorrie Hochuli will meet with you every week to review the progress of your project in detail. For shorter projects he will provide you with an update every 2 days.
- All unanswered phone calls, emails and texts are returned within 2 hours during normal business hours.
- We provide an onsite and easy to use way to ask questions or to provide us with requested information.
- We encourage you to ask questions of Scott or our lead carpenter when you are around during construction.
Yes. We are motivated to complete your project as that is the only way we get paid. Once we start your project, we stay on it each day until we are finished unless there are circumstances beyond our control like weather or delays in inspections that don’t permit us to work.
In any significant project there will be some “gap” days due to the issues just listed. Our clients know that we are always working on their project – coordinating material deliveries, setting up city inspections, coordinating specialty trades and more. Our ongoing communications keep you informed so you won’t be left wondering.
We design your project and then use an up-front project schedule, a pre-construction checklist, a formal scheduling system and weekly intensive project updates with you to keep your project on time.
- We invite questions during the project. If you desire a change to the original plan, it is much easier to complete it before it is started then after it is in place.
- We provide a comprehensive walkthrough at the end of the project to ensure satisfaction.
- All of our internal systems ensure that our end of the project punch list is minimal and we invite you to ask any of our references about this.
Do you have code of conduct for your crews?
- We have a zero-tolerance written policy that prohibits smoking, chewing tobacco, drug and alcohol use on the job.
- We also have trained our crews to act like guests in your home and to respect your personal space and belongings. Again we encourage you to ask our references about this.
We provide a 2-year warranty for the labor and installation on all design build and home remodeling projects.
- This is as much as 2 years longer than most of our competitors. This demonstrates that we stand behind our work.
- A one year warranty isn’t really worth much (kind of like a 50,000 mile warranty on a car). Even a poorly constructed project is likely to last for a year before starting to fall apart.
- We stand behind our work. It has only happened a few times but we have repaired projects after the warranty expired where we believed our workmanship was not as good as required.
Not all the time but we do ask that you be available each day so we can provide you with answers to any questions you have.
This is an area where we believe our systems far exceed those of our competitors.
Hochuli Design & Remodeling Team provides a project schedule that includes the time line of events on the project.
- Most contractors will simply say “It will be a six-week project.”
- If the contractor doesn’t back this up with a specific schedule of events then it is only a guess. Poor planning leads not only to delays in completion but it can also lead to cost overruns.
- This is one of the most common complaints – unrealistic time frames.
- Our up-front project schedule, pre-construction checklist, scheduling system and weekly intensive project updates are all essential parts of keeping your project on time.
- Beware of contractors who will promise you the world in terms of a quick start date or a really quick completion date. Thorough planning is required to effectively complete a project on time. Without plenty of details, you will most likely be disappointed and frustrated by the extra time required to complete your project.
- With most of the projects we utilize an online, cloud based, scheduling and production system which give the homeowner 24 hour access to the construction schedule for the project. See a sample here…..
In most cases we provide portable toilets for employees and subcontractors. If this is a smaller job we ask for access to a bathroom as a courtesy. We will respect your privacy and your property in using the bathroom.
We ask for access to a sink or side yard area with hose that we can use for cleanup but will make other arrangements if that isn’t possible.
We have a written daily cleanup checklist to make sure the site is clean and secure at the end of each workday.
Yes. We will provide the appropriate information to your HOA.