Tom: Hello, Sandy, our community YCCA gal! As always, it is a joy to be with you again this month and to share our column with the community. As usual, I am holding on to see what we are going to chitchat about.
Sandy: Hello back at ya, Tom. All is well in the wonderful world of YCCA. We have had some terrific contractor outreach meetings, the weather has been glorious, new virtual inspection processes with the City of Prescott are taking place, lots of remodeling, new homes and all is grand!
Wow, July was a busy month. Hope your 4th was full of fireworks and fun, rodeo time, parade vendors on the Square, Fire Hose races, kiddie parade and rodeo dancing. And, with all of that, more importantly, did you find time to get the work done?
Tom: Oh my, Sandy, so much going on, so little time. I think the idea of time off, particularly to honor our nation’s birthday, is a time not to work. Taking some time to reflect on how lucky we are in this country and be with friends and family to celebrate is so important.
Sandy: We are lucky to be in this country and this state and county. I just love it here. And I love what I do. All the members of the YCCA give me such great energy.
Tom: That is awesome. There is such a diversity of membership also. I bet you get calls all the time from members and constituents alike wanting help with one thing or another.
Sandy: I do! And you know how much I love to help people. That is one of the real rewards of this job! There are calls from installing doggie doors, to replacing ceiling fans, to building a yurt, new homes, garages, carports, bath and kitchen remodels and resolving unpermitted work, helping in creating road improvement districts, working with jurisdictions and challenges, and the list goes on.
Tom, I do believe that our life in the construction world is like Buddy Holly’s song: Every day, it’s a-getting closer, going faster than a roller coaster. Love comes our way because we love what we do.
Tom: You have given out our name, along with others, from time to time, to help folks out because they don’t know where to turn for a contractor or tradeperson to help them. That is great, but I think we could give our readers some more ways to vet a trade contractor or a general contractor.
Sandy: Great idea! There are so many third party companies out there with a wide array of names on their lists it can be pretty confusing on where to turn.
Tom: That I agree with. There are some companies that all one does is pay a fee and you’re in. Your name is on their list. Good, bad or different. Licensed and unlicensed.
Sandy: Properly vetting a company can take some time but is so worth it. When folks call me to inquire about a contractor, if I do not know of them, I always start by looking at their license with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. I want to make sure the company is properly licensed for the service they provide. For example, last week a homeowner called and inquired about XYZ Company. I pulled up the license and saw that the contractor was licensed for C-61 Limited Remodeling and Repair Work, up to $50,000. Tom, this contractor had given the homeowner a bid for $120,000 for a new addition on their home. Red flag for sure.
Tom: Checking on the license is the first step for certain. If the company can’t pass that review then no need to look at them further. In the case you just cited, Sandy, they were working out of their licensed scope and operating unethically.
Sandy: Getting back to the third party companies, people can simply ask those companies how they vet the names on their lists. Some do very little and others really get to know the company.
Tom: From our perspective, we have some third party referral companies that have asked us to join and just want a fee paid. Those we politely decline. Others have taken the time to interview past clients, vendors and do background checks on me.
Sandy: Oh, I think I would love to see your background check report!!!LOL
Tom: Quite boring, I assure you.
Sandy: All kidding aside, you are correct, some referral companies are great. And people do need to ask them how they screen the names they give out. If the company doesn’t answer you, then the names on their list aren’t worth much.
Sandy: And just collecting complaints, while good to know, rarely tells the whole story.
Tom: You nailed it. And you used a key word, referral. We often want our client leads to come from referrals. For our company that is the best source of inquiries there can be.
Sandy: Curious, what percentage of your calls are from referrals?
Tom: About 60% in one form or another. Past clients, references, people who know me, things like that.
Sandy: I know so many of our area contractors. So many of our local companies have mastered construction management, they maintain a record of exceeding customer expectations while at the same time delivering the highest quality craftsmanship and value in every project. My knowledge of the members and the industry locally as a whole stems from knowing their reputations in the community and their hands-on work with so many of you and the citizens in our community.
Tom: At my firm, we pride ourselves on a team approach that is delivered with honesty and integrity. We’re proud to say that we’ve completed more than 1,600 projects in the Prescott area, which includes municipal and commercial buildings, historic restorations, sustainable green buildings and award-winning custom residential homes, remodels and everything in between.
Sandy: Referrals are fantastic and I am honored that we can give out many on our local industry.
Tom: A company’s reputation is only as good as its finished product. Most carpenters, form setters, roofers, tapers and other construction workers learn their trades through on-the-job training. It’s not always desirable or even possible to lure top craftsmen away from their current employers, so instituting a quality training program is an investment in long-term success. Keeping industrious workers means offering competitive pay, benefits and incentives, in addition to promptly addressing concerns and providing a safe work environment. Important management duties include hiring, firing, training, discipline and conflict resolution.
Sandy: The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” could not be more accurate. Soliciting three prices and choosing the lowest bid ensures one thing: Owners are getting the contractor who is willing to work the cheapest for the plans and specifications they paid their design professional to draft.
Tom: Sandy, yes I agree: “You get what you pay for,” and the assurance stops there. There is no guarantee that the owner will receive the best quality project, with the best materials and the best subcontractors. It also does not ensure that the project will be completed on time and within budget. So many times I see homeowners taking the lowest bid they receive and this just creates a relationship that revolves around cost, not quality. You get what you pay for.
Sandy: The contractor-homeowner relationship is just that, a relationship. Homeowners should choose contractors based upon capabilities, merit and demonstrated successes. After all, they will be working together—in some cases, for many months—to reach a goal or realize a dream.
Tom: Sandy, you are right on. Respect and open communication are paramount to the success of the project. Choosing the lowest bidder can often result in disputes, which can end up in litigation, increased costs and shoddy workmanship. Relationships are built on trust, communication and ideals.
Thanks, readers, for stopping in and reading “At Home with Tom and Sandy.” You’re in good company and we love sharing educational, fun and important information with you. QCBN
Tom Reilly, Architect, Contractor, Renovations 928-445-8506 renovationsaz.com
Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association. 928-778-0040.