Have you ever struggled to find and select a qualified trustworthy building restoration specialist to restore or maintain your valuable building envelope? I have people every day share horror stories about poor contractors harming their buildings and/or not fulfilling their obligations or not responding to correcting a repair, a leak, etc. It’s as if they are at some dark scary place. They beg me to provide immediate solutions to their problems. I am happy and eager to assist them and, through the process, turn them into loyal fans. Let’s see how you can find the right building restoration specialist.
Most people turn to the internet these days to do so but it can be a real crap shoot. In many respects, it’s no different than flipping through the old yellow pages. However, the internet is still the best way today to find such an expert. But how can you zero in on the right company out of several for your building restoration needs and projects to maintain its structural integrity and its unique original appearance? With winter fast approaching in Ohio, it is critical to make certain your building envelope is water-tight by late fall and ready for Ohio’s infamous freeze-thaw cycle that arguably causes the most harm to exterior building facades in the region.
This is critical – as finding, selecting and using the wrong company to perform your building restoration project(s) will cost you a whole lot more in the end. There will most certainly be poor workmanship, continued problems such as leaks into the building, masonry repair failures, hideous looking repairs, and, possibly, systemic failures in your building envelope or exterior facade. This will often result in lots of aggravation and hassle, professional embarrassment, upset tenants, lost time, continued damage to exterior facade, structural damage to exterior and interior walls, compromised glazing systems (windows, doors, storefronts, curtain walls, skylights, et.al.), erosion of steel lintels, shelf angles, I-beams, and supports, interior damage to expensive finishes, and, often, costly mold remediation. Needless to say, it can be extremely costly not finding and using the right building restoration specialist. I have cases where I worked on a building, bailing out a customer in hot water, where doing it over correctly cost them more than tenfold in damages and making it right.
Here are a number of things to consider in your quest to finding the right building restoration specialist on the internet and once you find a company accessing how they communicate and operate in response to your needs:
They should share numerous successful projects on key landmarks, well known buildings, be serving the “Who’s Who” of the local real estate market, property management companies, building owners, and developers, and have the top companies in the region as customers with lots of strong testimonials and recommendations visible to all that visit their site. Any company that is heads and shoulders above its competition will be open about all this information and be proud to have it in the public forum, for they are not worried about losing their customers–that says it all right there!
Be affiliated with numerous building professional organizations such as BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association), IFMA (International Facilities Managers Association), IREM (International Real Estate Managers) and they should have some credentials or certifications (for example, I have taught classes to building managers on building envelopes). Often, LinkedIn is a great tool to screen the principals of any business as strong owners or managers will have multiple good recommendations and glowing testimonials
Be A+ Accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Have strong ratings and reviews of online services like Angie’s List, Google + Reviews, Yahoo Reviews, etc.
Have no business or tax liens, judgements, lawsuits, or bankruptcies against them on record
Be in business for a minimum of ten years as the vast majority of businesses fail before this benchmark and others are often still unstable until this point
Have all the necessary general liability insurance with a minimum of $2 million aggregate and per occurrence on both the business and auto policies, have a current Workers Compensation Certificate and no or little lost time workers compensation claims in its history, have a strong safety policy and manual and no or little OSHA fines or write-ups, etc.
Once initial contact is made with the company, you should be communicating and arranging an appointment for them to make a site visit to access your building restoration needs with someone from the company the same day or within 24 hours tops (excluding weekends and/or holidays). If they are not responsive, they are simply not professional.
A reputable Building Restoration Specialist is able to turn a proposal in to you within a few days after your appointment with everything you need including options for the means and methods of restoring your building properly, pricing and/or budgets, data sheets of materials used if needed, pictures documenting areas or items that need restored if requested, and any applicable material warranties. Another thing to consider is that if the company offers long term warranties beyond the standard one year for both their workmanship and materials specified on a project, they are most likely for real and a viable option.
A quality Building Restoration Specialist will be open to you further screening them by contacting their main suppliers or vendors and a few key customers as they will tell you why they like doing business with the company. Questions to ask are as follows: Do they pay well and on time? Are they fair and honest? Do they treat you well? Have they solved several difficult leaks and/or maintenance problems where no else could? Do they take care of any problems in a timely manner? Are they responsive to your needs? Are you completely satisfied with their service and quality? Would you recommend them to friends and family? For instance, my company has never failed a urethane or silicone sealants caulking or wet-sealing application adhesion test or a water repellent application water test on masonry as long as I have been in business and, consequently, we have always been able to provide a long term material warranty from the manufacturer for our customers.
Politely ask to see their financials. They should be willing to provide you with a recent tax return, income and/or profit and loss statement. You can even call their CPA and/or banker. If they are doing well financially, then you know they are for real and, most likely, will be there for you in the future. It is equally important you be willing to share how you plan on paying for the project as well. The relationship must be a win-win for both parties if it is going to go smoothly. This is important for if there is ever a warranty issue, they will be there to make it right. Do your due diligence before venturing into a contract with just any company on the internet. Even if the right company is a little pricier than most of the other competition, there is a probably a good reason why. As Ben Franklin once said: “The sweetness of low price is soon forgotten, while the bitterness of poor quality long remains”.
Lastly, find out what the company does for the greater good of the community. Do they donate time and money to charities? Do they regularly tithe to a church? Are they socially and environmentally conscious? A reliable Building Renovation Specialist cares about others, including you, they are not all about profit. That is a wonderful thing in these times and something we all should be concerned with as we are all tied together in a world of our making.
I hope this helps in your quest to find a great building restoration specialist in your area. If you are in Ohio, save lots time and hassle and simply get in touch with me, Mark Huffer, and my company, Utmost Renovations. I promise you that you will be taken care of professionally, fairly, timely, and with complete satisfaction. We specialize in protecting and restoring property with integrity and quality.
Mark Huffer, is President of Utmost Consulting and Utmost Renovations. He is a BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) Instructor on building envelopes and is a leading authority on Building Restoration and Historic Preservation.
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