Below is a list of frequently asked questions broken down by category - Consultation - Construction - Design - Schedule. Feel free to contact us for more information.
- Why should I work with Robinson Renovation?
We believe there are several reasons people come to us. Because we are a design/build company, we can provide them with the creative ideas they want. Because our design work is done in-house, we can efficiently bring their dream to reality. They know there won’t be a “financial surprise” at the end of their project. Rather than deal with several sources, we enable them to visit one source for design, building and interior design work. We are a remodeling company that protects their investment and are responsive to their requests. They can easily know their project schedule without making numerous, time-consuming calls. They know our company specializes in quality work. They know our company employees are people they can trust. Finally, they want a company that has a warranty, stands behind their work, and has been in this business since 1958.
- Are you a state licensed contractor?
Yes. We have a Certified Building Contractor's license (CBC-057949) and a Roofing Contractor’s license (CCC-058084).
- Are you insured?
Yes. We carry worker's compensation, builder's risk and general liability insurance. We can provide a certificate of liability insurance with more detailed information. This is something any contractor should be willing and able to supply, but many cannot.
- My home was built before 1978 and may have lead paint. Are you an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm?
Yes. Robinson Renovation is a certified lead paint renovator.
- What experience do you have in the remodeling/construction field?
Remodeling companies come and go. We have over 200 years of combined experience in our company and that says something about the way we do things.
- Do you warranty your work?
Yes. Our structural warranty for room additions is by state law. State law also spells out what is covered by a new home construction warranty. In addition, we use licensed engineers to design the foundation and critical load-bearing structures. We warranty our work in writing for one year.
- Do you have any references that can be contacted?
Yes. We will be glad to provide a list of references with contact information. In addition to past client references, we will happily provide a list of supplier references.
- Is there a charge for an estimate?
We do not supply free estimates, as our system is different from most contractors. As a design/build firm, we provide free consultations. While some contractors state they will provide a free estimate, it is usually based only on loose observations. In an effort to give you a low bid to "seal the deal", they give an estimate and request the work be done on a cost-plus basis. This process leads to errors, as well as financial surprises at the end of the project. What we do is better than a free estimate. We consult with you about your project and help you decide what the right remodeling project is for you. Then we give you a broad range of budget costs. We guide you to determine what you want, and then give you the different amounts, depending on finishes and accessories, that project will cost. In addition, we can recommend cost saving ideas to stretch your budget.
- How do I schedule a consultation and during what hours can I schedule one?
We provide free consultations during our regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 8 am - 4 pm Consultations can be scheduled by calling 352-333-9566, or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some exceptions can be made for an after-hours or Saturday consultation. However, we believe it is important to our employees, and ultimately to our clients, that we provide for a nurturing home and family life for our employees. A good work/life balance for our employees ensures the best possible client experience for you.
- How long is a typical consultation?
To help our clients understand our process and to get adequate information to provide a good service to them, a consultation will take between 45 minutes to one and one-half hours, depending on the complexity of the project. It is important to spend enough time in the first meeting in order to clearly understand your project requirements.
- Do you offer financing?
Our company does not provide financing, but we will assist and guide you through the complex financing process. Financing a remodeling project is vastly different than a new home project and very few financial institutions have much experience with this type of financing. We believe the contractor should work with the lender in the budgeting process to make the process go smoothly.
- Do you do commercial work?
Yes, we will take on commercial projects. We are licensed to perform commercial work, and we have a consulting architect and design team to handle all commercial project requirements.
- What are the stages to choosing a contractor and beginning a remodeling project?
We suggest you choose your contractor firm first, and of course, we want you to choose us. We refer to the contractor, or builder, as the "captain of the ship". The designer will draw "maps" for the journey. The contractor needs to the be the captain from the very first planning of the journey, through the completion of the journey. Deciding on which contractor will build your project is your first major decision. We believe that decision should not be based on price alone. The problem with basing your decision on the three bid idea is that the only way to get a pure, apples to apples, price from three contractors is to have an architect draw up extensive and expensive plans, specifications and selections and have the project bid out, and then have the architect inspect every single aspect of the construction. For residential construction, this is neither feasible nor desirable. Our clients are buying much more than the actual “sticks and bricks.” They are also buying extensive services from our company, above and beyond the actual construction.
- How long does the building process take?
Actually building the project can take anywhere from four weeks to six months, depending on the size of the project. It is important to realize there is a huge difference in the scheduling talent among different remodeling contractors. The main reason for a remodeling project to run over schedule is a lack of planning. Most remodeling contractors are excellent craftsmen and good people, but they do not like to do the planning, estimating, scheduling, selection and specification work that make for a short time frame or schedule.
- What does it take to get started?
In our process, the first thing we recommend is to meet in our office so you will understand our process for selections, design and planning of a remodel. This is a free consultation. It typically takes two meetings before a budget can be determined. At that point, a design fee is charged and plans are drawn, beginning the planning process for the remodeling project.
- What makes a kitchen more or less expensive?
Kitchens can be very expensive, depending on a number of factors. For instance, kitchen sinks can be purchased for $200 up to $1500. Kitchen faucets are the same way. Floors, counter tops, appliances, lighting, and cabinets follow the same pattern. You can go low-end, high-end, and everything in between. Do you want a Volkswagen, Chevrolet or Mercedes-Benz kitchen? The price of a kitchen remodel is mainly determined by the finishes that are selected.
- What can I do myself to help cut costs?
The first way to save money on a remodel is to select less expensive finishes and items. Planning out exactly what is important to you and prioritizing those items ensures you get exactly what you want and don't pay for what you don't. Many clients break up their home remodeling projects into phases. For example, they remodel the kitchen this year, remodel a bathroom next year, and add a porch onto the house the following year.
- Why do I need to bring my spouse when I make all the decisions?
Your spouse should accompany you to the meeting because he/she will live in the house with you and that could affect some key decisions. Your spouse may not need to accompany you to every meeting with us, but certainly those at which key decision will be made. We recommend that your spouse be at the first meeting because that is when you gauge whether our company will be a good "match" for you and your remodeling project. Over the years, we have learned that this procedure will yield a better quality client experience.
- Can you give me a rough estimate over the phone, like, how much was the last kitchen you did?
We do not give estimates over the phone because they are too inaccurate and there is too much possibility for misunderstanding. We do refer people to www.remodeling.hw.net. "Remodeling Magazine" provides this website as a tool for homeowners to determine the cost-to-value of any remodeling projects they are considering. Different remodeling projects from across the country were estimated in several metropolitan areas to see what average project costs were and to determine what the investment value to a homeowner was one year after the project was completed.
- What is the difference between an estimate and a price?
An estimate is an educated guess. The quality of an estimate can vary widely. We have heard reports of some remodelers coming to a house, sitting down with the homeowner for 30 minutes, then giving them an estimate on the back of their business card. Obviously, that is a very rough estimate. A price is a fixed amount for a project, with complete plans, specifications, selections and a complete list of what is included in the project. We believe that the remodeling industry would be better served if homeowners didn't give contractors permission to do cost-plus arrangements. There are horror stories of contractors in a cost-plus arrangement with a homeowner completing projects where the final price for the project was considerably over the original estimate, from 10 percent to over 300 percent.
- What is GFCI and do I need it?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and yes, you do need it. The GFCI is a safety device mandated by building codes. With GFCI, if an appliance fell into a sink full of water, the circuit would be tripped and would be rendered off, so no one would be electrocuted.
- Should I consider moving out of my house during the remodel?
We are accustomed to working with homeowners who live in their house during remodeling. We have protective plastic and special ventilating equipment to alleviate dust and inconvenience. That being said, there will be dust in your house, especially when sheetrock is being sanded. So, some clients do prefer to move out during the remodeling process. For some remodeling projects, we can completely barricade off the construction area from the rest of the living area, so dust and inconvenience is minimized.
- Do you guarantee your prices?
Yes. When we go through the planning process with the homeowner, we draw up a complete set of plans for the project, make selections, and make a detailed list of the work that is going to be done. We review that with the homeowners to make sure that list is correct, then at that point we give them a fixed price for that work. In addition, if there are change orders, they must be written and signed by the homeowners. So the final price only goes up if the homeowner makes a change and that change is in writing.
- Should I anticipate any costs beyond the contract price?
The only cost that a homeowner should anticipate beyond the contract price would be if there are any allowance items on which the homeowner has not made final selections. These items could go over the price or could go under. If there are items that are added, that could change the price. The only exception to this is if we discover hidden damage, for instance water damage, which could not be reasonably foreseen. Unfortunately, we lack x-ray vision. If we encounter any kind of hazardous material that could not have been reasonably foreseen, that could also change the final price.
- How do you handle change orders?
If a homeowner wants to make a change, our lead carpenter or production manager will write up the change and produce an estimated cost for that change and present that to the homeowner. At that time, the homeowner can decide to proceed with the change by signing the change order, or decline the change.
- What are percentage payments?
Our billing system is based on the percentage of work completed. We believe percentage payments are a more efficient arrangement and more equitable than an arrangement where the contractors bill the homeowner every week. The problem with weekly billing is that the contractor or subcontractors may not accomplish the work they were scheduled to accomplish and it is not fair to the homeowner to pay when work was not done on schedule.
- How will you control dust and handle the mess associated with my job?
We use protective plastics to screen-off areas. We also build temporary walls to separate living spaces from construction spaces. We have air filtration equipment to help keep dust under control.
- I've had incompetent and unfriendly workers in my home before. Can you tell me about whom you plan to have in my home?
We have formed long standing relationships with our subcontractors, but we continue to monitor their performance and the quality of the workmen they employ. We also ask our clients how well employees and subcontractors are performing.
- Can we hire you to just design a home for us?
Because we are busy designing projects for which we will be doing the construction, we don’t typically do only design work. We have, however, designed homes for which we then do the building.
- What happens if I go through the design/pricing process and decide not to move ahead and build after all?
Clients sometimes change their life situations and decide they do not want to remodel or build. In that case, the design fee is not refunded and the drawings can not be used due to insurance liability reasons.
- What is the kitchen triangle and is it important?
The kitchen work triangle is an imaginary triangular distance between the kitchen sink, refrigerator and cook top. The ideal distance can vary from 16 feet to 26 feet. The total distance is determined by measuring each leg of the triangle and adding those measurements together. Some kitchen design experts believe the microwave should be included within the work triangle. The idea behind the work triangle is that an efficient work triangle means that the cook is not using too many steps and inefficient motions. We think the microwave should be "inside" the work triangle.
- Where is the best place to put the microwave?
Most cooks prefer the microwave to be above the counter in an upper kitchen cabinet, although some microwaves are actually put below the counter on an island. We believe the microwave should be within the work triangle area and near a refrigerator or cook top.
- Will I be able to select the actual products for my project?
Yes. We have a selection and design process which makes it easy and fun to select the different types of materials and finishes that will go into your project. In addition, we believe in educating you, the homeowner, as to what your best choices are when it comes to the multitude of products available today.
- I've had projects completed in the past that seemed to be "designed" as the contractor went along; we didn’t really know what we were getting or what it was really going to look like until it was done and the whole project seemed very inefficient. How can I be sure I will get what I want?
Our firm uses a process for designing and product selection for your project so that you will have full knowledge of what is going into your project. In addition, we provide design and drafting services with 3-dimensional pictures so homeowners can visualize the end product before it is built. We believe that is better to thoroughly design and specify a project completely, even if that means delaying the start date for that project.
- I've heard stories of contractors starting a job and then leaving before it is finished or taking forever because they come and go. When you start my job will you stay until it is finished?
Yes. We believe that the best way to have a good, quality remodeling experience is to take the time up front to plan the entire project. Our company takes longer in the planning process to plan the project and obtain the selections and specifications with the specific goal of making the schedule shorter and more accurate. In addition, our lead carpenters, production managers and production system are all geared toward a shorter time frame for the actual construction process. This benefits the homeowner as it makes for a better remodeling experience. It also benefits our company because the project can be completed in a timely fashion and we can go on to make the next client as happy as we have made the previous client.