Diamond Certified Blog

Tag Archives: construction

Dealing with Foundation Problems

Abrew Repair and Construction recognized that this fireplace mantel was a warning sign that the home’s foundation was uneven.

Recently, I spoke to a homeowner who hired a contractor to demolish and re-build a chimney, as well as repair cracks to stucco and drywall. That contractor abandoned the job. The homeowner then hired a Diamond Certified company to patch cracks in the stucco and reinstall the mantel, which the homeowner had removed from around the fireplace.

What went wrong?
When the incoming contractor remounted the fireplace mantel, it looked crooked. The contractor explained that the problem wasn’t the mantel—the house was uneven. This explanation was not received well. Continue reading “Dealing with Foundation Problems” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

Diamond Certified Experts: How to Hire a Remodeling Contractor

When choosing a remodeling contractor, there’s a lot more to consider than the bottom line. Photo: Ryan & Ryan Construction, Inc. (2016)

When choosing a remodeling contractor, there’s a lot more to consider than the bottom line. Photo: Ryan & Ryan Construction, Inc. (2016)

Considering the stakes involved, it’s no surprise that a large-scale remodeling project can be a bit unnerving. After all, you’re entrusting thousands of dollars to a contractor’s promise to deliver a product that currently only exists on paper. That’s why, prior to hiring a contracting firm, it’s critical to confirm it’s worthy of your trust. To gain further insight, we’ve asked five Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to weigh in on what to look for when hiring a remodeling contractor.

A Current License: Diana Connolly, Montclair Construction & Structural, Inc.
All building and remodeling contractors in California are required to carry proper licensing. Unfortunately, not every working contractor conforms to this legal obligation, so you’ll need to make sure yours does. To verify a contractor’s license is current, look up the license number on the California State Licensing Board’s website (www.cslb.ca.gov), which keeps a record of all registered contractors in the state. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: How to Hire a Remodeling Contractor” »

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San Francisco Prepares for Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program

As of June 18, 2013, if you own a residential building of a certain size in San Francisco, you’ll be required to seismically retrofit it. The law specifically applies to wood frame buildings with “soft stories,” which means buildings with three or more stories, or two stories above a basement or underfloor area that has any portion extending above grade. The buildings must contain five or more units to comply with the new rules.

Ivan Diviney, owner of Diviney Construction Inc., a Diamond Certified company, explains why soft story buildings are so dangerous: “During an earthquake, large openings on the ground floor (like garage doors or commercial spaces with large window and door openings) are especially vulnerable. These openings have no shear structure to stop a ‘soft story’ from failing, which means residents who live above them are at high risk. Even if the upper floor is structurally sound, the base of the building isn’t, so gravity will take its course.” Continue reading “San Francisco Prepares for Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program” »

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How to Remodel on a Budget

Most homeowners have heard the advice to budget for 20 percent over what they expect to spend or avoid making additions once the work is underway, but many experts recommend more specific ways to save money on a remodeling project. Consider the following tips:

Time your job right. Contractors often charge more during peak construction times (summer and fall) because labor and material costs are usually higher due to increased demand. Schedule your job during winter or downtime in your contractor’s schedule to knock hundreds of dollars off your remodeling bill. Ask your contractor about off-season discounts or other money-saving scheduling arrangements.

Combine jobs. If you’ve been considering getting new windows, adding a skylight or solar tube, or installing solar panels or a solar hot water system, merging these projects with your remodel might save you money in the long run. If your walls need to be opened up for a remodel, it may be a good time to re-pipe for solar hot water. In addition to the energy savings, you’ll save money on construction costs because you won’t have to re-open the walls later. Continue reading “How to Remodel on a Budget” »

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Frisbee and the Game of Life

Because I am in the middle of planning a kitchen remodel and getting some foundation work done, I found these to be wise words from a Diamond Certified Guest Blogger, Michael McCutcheon, owner McCutcheon Construction, Inc.

I was thinking this morning about the language we use when we discuss negotiating with people. “I’ve got to play hard-ball” with this guy….

“Hard-ball” is a pretty good analogy for taking a tough negotiating stance. Hard-ball is very much a game of intimidation, particularly when the pitcher tries to “brush back” the hitter with one that’s “high and tight.” A pitcher will deliberately throw at a batter’s head in order to get them to “back off” the plate. If the batter is intimidated, he won’t “stand in.” He won’t be able to cover the entire plate with his bat. Once the pitcher has brushed him back, he’ll try one “low and outside.” Once the batter backs off, he’ll never be able to reach that pitch. “Strike three!!”

When I was in college we used to play Frisbee, which was the opposite of a game of intimidation. In fact, we had to cooperate to have fun. If the other player couldn’t catch and then return the throw, it ruined the whole rhythm of play. As players get better, you throw harder, but the goal is always to make the Frisbee catchable so they can return it to you—hopefully in your sweet spot so you can catch and return. 

In business, this kind of approach is called “win-win.” It’s the opposite of “hard-ball.”

As a businessperson, I see people play the game of life in either hard-ball or Frisbee style. I decided years ago that I would “play Frisbee,” meaning negotiate in good faith with clients to seek a “win-win” for both parties.

Every week we get calls from homeowners who refuse to tell us their budget. They figure that if they tell us what they want to spend we might increase our price and rip them off. They presume that our pricing is not based on our cost plus a reasonable markup, but rather on our evaluation of their ability to pay. Not true. In fact, bringing us in early on the budget conversation can save a lot of wasted effort.

My advice is to always work as a team. Think “Frisbee” rather than “hard-ball.” Home remodeling is too big a risk to make it an adversarial game. Spend time up-front interviewing and selecting your team members—including the designer and builder. Be watchful as the process unfolds, and replace any team members who aren’t meeting your expectations. Good teamwork makes your project go more smoothly and saves you time, money, and aggravation.

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