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Frequently Asked Questions About Home RemodelingQuality and Dependability on Every Home Renovation Project Since 2003

I am often asked the questions on this page or similar ones by my customers and prospective customers.

I believe that asking very specific questions is a proven way to learn about a contractor’s reputation, service record, attention to detail, warranty and much more. Asking lots of questions will help you eliminate contractors with limited experience or with a questionable reputation.

I have been called as an expert witness in the home remodeling industry. I have seen home remodeling disasters up close and I am committed to ensuring that your project is successful. In an industry that sometimes gets negative publicity, EBCON Corporation provides our clients with reliability, quality, and boutique service.

In case you weren’t aware of it, the California State Licensing Board website has a wealth of information for consumers. The information provided on the site is to help protect homeowners from unscrupulous contractors.

It is always a good idea to get all answers in writing.

Here is one example: instead of simply asking if the contractor is licensed in California – ask to see their license and then you can check on the California Contractors State Licensing Board website to ensure that their license is current.

I started my company to deliver outstanding personal service and exceptional quality. My goal is not to become the largest home remodeling company on the Peninsula but rather one that is recognized for high quality work and happy clients.

I understand that success is not an accident. It is based on adherence to quality standards that are applied on every project.

I welcome your questions and I will provide the written answers for your review.

I do everything possible to be accessible for my clients. You can reach me on my mobile number on normal business days between 7 AM and 7 PM. If I should miss your call, I will call you back in 2 hours or less. I also provide my email address and have a goal to respond in 2 hours or less on emails too.

If you are ready to update one room or you want to give your home a complete makeover, we can help. If you want to do an addition for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office or any other area of your home, we can turn your dream into reality.

We service the Bay Area and Silicon Valley California.

Reputation and Company History

Are You Properly Licensed by the California Contractors State Licensing Board?

Yes. Our license number is 819931. We are licensed as a General Building Contractor.

  • In California, a contractor must be licensed through the Contractors State Licensing Board to legally perform construction, home repair and remodeling jobs that require a building permit or when the total project cost is $500 or more.
  • There are still plenty of companies and individuals that are not licensed. SLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducts stings and sweeps somewhere in California each week. Unlicensed contractors are part of the $60-140 billion dollar underground economy that does not pay taxes, insurance, or follow safety laws.

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 CSLB complaint process.

You can visit the CSLB website to learn more.

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. 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.

Have you ever declared bankruptcy for this or any other home improvement, home remodeling, design build or new home construction company in which you owned an interest?

It may surprise you to learn that in a 2011 survey over 35% of the home remodeling, home improvement and design build companies that advertised in directories were out of business within 5 years of the date the directory was published.

Some contractors have closed up one business because of credit problems or quality issues and then started a new company.

You can protect yourself by asking each contractor for the following information:

  • Will you provide the name of each corporation, Limited Liability Company, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity that you were an owner in during the past 5 years?

I will provide the required information at our first meeting.

Can you provide a “ball park” estimate for my project?

Any home remodeling or home improvement contractors that will give you an estimate over the phone or via email without meeting you and thoroughly understanding your needs and plans should be avoided.

I would love to provide a quick estimate over the phone but there are just too many choices to come up with a number that is realistic.

  • For example: there are dozens of cabinets to choose from. You can spend $10,000 or $50,000 for the same number and size of cabinets. Countertops can be $1,500 or $5,000 for the same square footage. There is a range of choices for virtually every component in a remodeling project. That is why some kitchen remodeling projects are $15,000 and some are $80,000.

The good news is that all those choices give me great flexibility to help you meet your budget.

  • I have the experience to make recommendations on materials that can help you stay within your budget.
  • I meet with every client and ask plenty of questions to ensure I understand your project. Based on the design or plans, I can make recommendations and suggestions to achieve the look and functionality you want. Once you have approved all of your material choices, I will be in a position to provide you with a complete proposal.
  • I also make it a requirement that all change orders are to be in writing and approved by my customers before I will make any changes that they want in the scope of the project. This simple step keeps everyone on the same page.

Professional and ethical contractors can provide you with a general price range that can give you a better idea if the project you are considering is even feasible and within your budget. Even this may not be that helpful. Finding out that you could be spending $40,000 to $80,000 for a kitchen remodeling project isn’t likely to help you decide if this is in your budget range.

Once you have a design, I can provide an accurate proposal based on your material selections.

If you are ready to update one room or you want to give your home a complete makeover, we can help. If you want to do an addition for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office or any other area of your home, we can turn your dream into reality.

How many references will you be providing?

If you really want to find out how consistent a contractor’s work is then ask for at least 10 references and check them out thoroughly by using the questions on our references page.

I also recommend that you ask for bank and supplier references. These references will let you know that the company you are considering is legitimate.

I will be pleased to provide my complete customer reference list plus letters of reference from my bank and my key suppliers at our first meeting.

We service the Bay Area and Silicon Valley including: Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, Cupertino, Foster City, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Saratoga, and Woodside.

Are business references really necessary?

Absolutely.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the economy in the Peninsula/Bay area in the last five years has taken its toll. A number of people that were laid off and had done handyman work suddenly became full-time remodelers or home improvement “experts.” Many commercial companies have also entered the residential remodeling market to make ends meet.

  • You may have read or heard stories about trusting homeowners that gave a contractor a large deposit and then the contractor disappeared or went out of business.
  • Home renovation or home remodeling contractors should have longstanding relationships with their local bank and key suppliers. All of their relationships should be in good standing. Contractors in good standing with their bank and key suppliers have an advantage; they get preferential treatment and pricing and that 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.

I will provide you with my bank and vendor references at our first meeting.

Do you carry liability and workers’ compensation insurance?

This is a very important question.

Liability insurance is not required in California but the California Contractors State Licensing Board does recommend that you hire a company that has it to protect your property in case of an accident.

The following information on Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance is from the California Contractors State Licensing Board website.

  • Commercial general liability insurance is not required; however, it covers damage to your property. If the contractor does not carry general liability insurance, they should be able to explain how they would cover losses that would ordinarily be covered by insurance. If your contractor damages your property and doesn't carry commercial general liability insurance, you or your insurance policy could end up paying for damages.
  • In California, if a contractor has employees, they're required to carry workers' compensation insurance. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If a worker is injured working on your property and the contractor doesn't have insurance, you could be liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation. Your homeowner's insurance may or may not cover those costs. You should check with your insurance carrier to make sure the workers' compensation insurance coverage being provided by the contractor is adequate.

We carry $2 Million of Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance and I will provide the contact information for my insurance agent so you can verify my coverage for the company.

Note: If the contractor utilizes sub-contractors – they also must meet the same insurance requirements to ensure you are protected.

California requires a Contractor Bond and our agent will provide the documentation on that as well.

Experience, Service and Attention to Detail

Do you provide a price guarantee?

Yes and that is a lot better than a “ball park” quote or general range for a project.

I spend extra time up front detailing all aspects of your proposal based on my 15 years of experience.

  • Once you approve the design and make all of your material selections, I provide fixed price agreements for the work specified along with a detailed breakdown of the project. My price guarantee is easy to understand.
  • All project costs including plans, permits and materials are included in our agreements. This eliminates surprises in the middle or at the end of our projects.

Many of my competitors will offer a “ball park estimate” and many times they will make it a tantalizingly low number.

  • 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 like cabinets and appliances is a common practice that can leave homeowners with an unexpected increase in the total price of a project. This is another way that many home remodeling contractors 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.
  • In the end, the homeowner thought they were getting a great deal but ends up with a lower quality job that will probably last until the warranty runs out and then will begin to fall apart.

If you are ready to update one room or you want to give your home a complete makeover, we can help. If you want to do an addition for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office or any other area of your home, we can turn your dream into reality.

Will I have to give you a big up front deposit?

No. In fact in California we can only ask for 10% or $1,000 – whichever is less.

Who will supervise my project on a day-to-day basis?

I have more than 15 years of experience and supervise projects or I will assign my project supervisor who has more than 30 years of experience to supervise your project.

One of us will be on your project each day or visit your project each day to make sure it is moving toward a successful completion.

  • It is a smart idea to ask very specific questions about the experience of the day-to-day supervisor.
  • Many companies had to let staff go during the downturn and when they did that a lot of their experience and “know how” went out the door with the staff they let go.

What type of training do you provide for your crews?

We conduct bi-monthly training sessions on safety and it is written, documented and each employee signs off on the training.

My project manager and I conduct ongoing on-the-job training to enhance the skills of all of our employees. I am pleased to report that all of our employees have been with me for over 8 years. This is quite unusual in the home remodeling industry.

We also have an employee manual that covers employee conduct and details my “zero tolerance” policy on the use of drugs and alcohol on the job.

What policies do you have in place on employee behavior?

  • We have a written policy that prohibits smoking in your home and we have a zero tolerance policy regarding drug and alcohol use on the job.
  • We also have trained our crews to act like guests in your home. Again we encourage you to ask our references about this.

How often will I hear from you?

I understand how important it is for you to be kept up to date on your project.

  • I will meet with you every week to review the progress of your project in detail. For shorter projects I will provide you with an update every 2 days.
  • I like to call or email my clients to keep them informed and answer questions. I frequently need to speak to my clients on recommendations or suggestions during the project.
  • If you are traveling, we like to take images of the project to keep you up to date.
  • I do everything possible to be accessible for my clients. You can reach me on my mobile number on normal business days between 7 AM and 7 PM. If I should miss your call, I will call you back in 2 hours or less.
  • I encourage you to ask questions of myself or my project manager when you are around during construction.

How do I know you will finish my project on time?

We are motivated to finish your project so that we can get paid but more important to me is that you are happy with the results.

In any longer or more complicated home remodeling project we will have days that we are unable to work. We may be waiting for inspections, held up by weather or other circumstances that are beyond our control.

I don’t take days off. When you don’t see me I am 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.

If you are ready to update one room or you want to give your home a complete makeover, we can help. If you want to do an addition for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office or any other area of your home, we can turn your dream into reality.

How can I be sure the “punch list” will be completed?

I use up front planning, a pre-construction checklist and our weekly meetings with my team and with you to keep the 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.

What if I want to use the same finishes or materials on another project?

  • We keep track of all materials by project so if you want to use the same type of trim, paint color, tile or any other material or finish we will have the proper records.
  • We provide you with a binder that has all of your plans, warranties, manuals and other relevant information so everything you need to know about your project is in one place.

What do you do each day to ensure my home is “livable” during the project?

Every construction project will have its share of dirt and dust. My crews use a detailed and written clean up checklist every day. This keeps your home livable during construction.

  • We will ask for access to a sink that we can use for cleanup but will make other arrangements if that isn’t possible.

What type of warranties do you provide?

We provide a comprehensive warranty that is 2 to 5 times longer than most of my competitors.

We warranty the fit and finish for 2 years, my labor for 5 years and structural components for 10 years.

  • Many of my competitors offer a 1 year warranty on labor. A 1 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 happened only a couple of times in our almost 10 years in business but we have repaired projects after the warranty expired where I believed our workmanship was not as good as required.

We service the Bay Area and Silicon Valley including: Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, Cupertino, Foster City, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Saratoga, and Woodside.

Do I need to be home when you’re working?

We only ask that you be available to answer questions or to respond to recommendations.

How long will it take to complete my project?

Many contractors will use general phrases like “this is a four-week project.” Most of the time they are just giving you a range of time that seems reasonable but they don’t have anything to back it up.

This type of approach typically leads to time overruns and unhappy homeowners.

We don’t work that way.

  • I spend extra time up front detailing all aspects of your proposal based on my 15 years of experience.
  • This up front and very detailed planning allows me to give you a realistic time frame to complete your project.
  • I use up front planning, a pre-construction checklist and our weekly meetings with my team to adjust our schedule for the inevitable things that get a bit off track during a construction project.
  • 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.

If you are ready to update one room or you want to give your home a complete makeover, we can help. If you want to do an addition for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office or any other area of your home, we can turn your dream into reality.

What about bathrooms?

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.

Where will you clean up?

We ask for access to a sink or side yard area with a 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.

Do you work with Homeowner’s Associations?

Yes. We will provide the appropriate information to your HOA.

One Other Important Question if Your Home was Built Prior to 1978

I don’t understand the EPA Lead Paint Law, can you explain it?

The new law on lead paint became effective in April of 2010 because lead-based paint can cause some very nasty health issues.

If your home was built before 1978 it is very possible that it contains lead based paint.

  • As the owner of EBCON Corporation, I believe that this is a very important step to protect adults and children from the harmful effects of lead paint. My company is a certified renovation firm and all of our employees are lead certified. We will follow the laws in providing our services at your home to ensure your safety. Following the new law will add cost to your project but the health of you and your family are worth it.

Unfortunately, some remodeling contractors are still not certified. Take the simple step of asking for proof of their certification before you meet with any remodeling contractor if your home was built before 1978.

If they aren’t certified and you do hire them then you could be exposing your family and your children to lead poisoning.

  • Home remodeling projects typically have sanding, cutting and demolition of existing parts of your home. Any of these construction activities can create a health risk for your family by disturbing lead-based paints.

I am providing this information as a service so you can make the best decision possible. I hope that you will find it useful in your search and I trust that you will be very satisfied with the answers you receive from my clients.

If you want to do an addition for extra living space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, home office or any other area of your home, we can help turn your dream into reality.

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