Over the past 5 years we’ve done a ton of updating on our house. Since I’m always getting asked, I’ve shared my list and thoughts. Scale is 5 stars, we highly recommend them – 2 stars and below, go elsewhere.
Eric Harrison Builders – 5 Stars – Eric remodeled our master-bathroom, closet, and laundry room. We can’t say enough good things about him and the people he uses. While his subs may be on the higher cost side, the quality and dedication are well worth it–his tile-setter in particular is the best we’ve ever seen. Hope to have Eric and crew back to do our staircase.
Marcus Heyns with Austin Doors & Trim – 5 Stars – Eric gave me Marcus’s name to replace our interior hollow-core doors. He was timely, friendly, and gave us a great price. His crew replaced 11 doors in two days, and also fixed some of our other doors that weren’t perfect. He is extremely knowledgeable, committed, and detail-oriented. I will have his team back soon to make some adjustments we need due to our new floors.
Ivan at Doors & Company – 5 Stars – Marcus gave us this recommendation. I met Ivan at the Doors & Company store, told him what I wanted, and he said he’d email me a quote. Once he saw what he had chosen, he suggested a non-name-brand version of the same door that would be half the price and have only a half-day lead time. We went with the “generic” doors–they look the same and are of the same quality as the name brand. When the installation work began, the installers discovered that there was damage to one of the doors after they had already made a cut. I called Ivan and he and the distributor agreed to take back the door and absorb the cost, and we received a new door the next day. Incredible service – see Ivan for your door needs.
6409 Burnet Lane
Chase Flooring – 2 Stars – We decided to put in new floors in most of the downstairs (foyer, living room, kitchen), along with new carpet in the media room. We went with Chase Flooring since I used to live next door to the owner and they did a nice job with our previous floors (although that was more than ten years ago). They are not cheap but promised quality. In the end, the finished product looks good, and the installers were well qualified, but the process to get there was not worth it. If we were to do it again, we’d go with someone else (e.g., the Tile Guy). They took twice as much time as was estimated, the communication from the sales/office guy was erratic (e.g., he neglected to tell us that the carpet hadn’t come in and he would have to move the installation out a week, and we rearranged our schedules to “tag team” so we could be there, and they just never showed up (we found out only when they missed the arrival window and we called the office.) In addition, the labor was under-estimated, the material was over-estimated (i.e., they ordered way too much of everything), and the process was frustrating. I posted a detailed play-by-play on my blog during the install to keep me sane: http://skelmo.com/?p=1293
RoofCrafters – 4 stars for the roof and gutters We had the composite roof replaced with a standing-seam metal roof and formed metal gutters. Besides a vent not being unplugged and one gutter leak (both of which they fixed(, Roofcrafters did a very nice, high-quality job, and our roof and gutters look great. I’d recommend them for roofing.
RoofCrafters – 2 stars for the windows and doors – After the success with roof, we had them come back to replace the windows, some of the doors (mainly exterior) and install slate and new railings on our front porch/stairs. We had lots of issues. The one guy to whom they subbed the windows was slow and did not have a good eye for detail. We had a leak in one window for 18 months before they finally were able to fix it properly (http://skelmo.com/?p=749)–that leak was due to the installation and not the window itself. The windows (Milgard) are high quality, work well, and look great, The carpenter they hired for the railing was really good, but I think they got him in over his head. The railing took a lot longer than they estimated and then warped. The doors were from BMC and were of excellent quality, but the painter they used did a really sloppy job of staining the new doors in the bedroom. As part of the project, we also had masonry work done, the mason they used was excellent. If we had to do it again, I’d use Eric, Marcus, and Ivan for sure.
build.com – 3 Stars – We bought all our door hardware from them. The first order for the exterior doors was perfect. The order for the pocket doors in the bathroom, closet, and laundry room was a disaster. When the first shipment arrived, it was the wrong finish (polished brass instead of polished nickel). Build.com set up the exchange promptly, and made it relatively easy to return the incorrect order. However, the shipping dates kept moving, so we waited and waited (after calling a few times in between), and then, the next order was exactly the same as the first (polished brass again), even though we had confirmed that it was indeed ordered correctly. On the third try, they finally got it right, but all of these mistakes caused a delay of probably eight weeks. The customer service agents at build.com were always helpful and sympathetic, but they blamed Emtek (the manufacturer) for getting it wrong. However, we called Emtek and they had the correct finish in stock, and could not check on the order because it had come from a third-party distributor–they told us they do not work directly with any online retailer. So Build.com gave us incorrect information, would not (or could not) tell us where the hardware was actually ordered from, and there was no way for us to check directly to ensure that the same mistake was not made again. So we had to ship back the wrong order twice, and wasted way too much time on the phone talking about pocket-door hardware.
supply.com – 1 Star – We bought some high-end Robern medicine cabinets from them. Their prices were a bit less staggering than some of the other retailers, and they promised relatively fast delivery. However, when we received the boxes from Fed-Ex, I knew we were in trouble. The thin cardboard box they shipped them in was destroyed and obviously had broken glass inside. Normally I’d chalk this up to shipping damage, but they shipped a very large item made of glass in a retail package with no styrofoam or other appropriate packing material. There is no way anything breakable would have survived. Moreover, the broken cabinet was not even to the specs we had ordered (it was eight-inches deep instead of four). The other one was packed better and was of the correct dimensions. Of course mistakes happen, but when we called and e-mailed supply.com about the issue, we got passed around and could not get anyone to pay attention or address the issue. Invariably, they seemed “put out” and wouldn’t return calls or respond to e-mails, except to tell us they had reordered the correct cabinet and it would arrive in several weeks. There was no effort to expedite the order, and similar to build.com, the people at Robern (owned by Kohler) were great but were not able to help. Because supply.com wouldn’t give us the distributor’s information or order number, Robern had no way to look up the order or check status. Supply.com then offered a “refund” in a passive-aggressive response to our request that they expedite the shipment. So it took several weeks for the replacement to arrive. At least this time, it was the correct cabinet and was packed very securely. I won’t buy from them again (although we would highly recommend Robern medicine cabinets–they are worth the obnoxious price).
Miguel Lopez – 5 Stars – Miguel did all of the baseboards and trim on our neighbors house. We wanted 100% of the baseboard-, window-, and door trim removed and replaced. Miguel and his associate came over to the house on a series of three weekends and patiently removed it all and replaced it with wide, modern, straight baseboards and trim. Miguel works for a lumber yard so he gets the material at a discount and picks it up and delivers it himself. We paid him the cost of the material plus labor at a set price-per-foot of trim removed and replaced. They were excellent all around.
Churchill’s Fireside & Patio – 4 Stars – We went to Churchill’s to freshen up our fireplace. We had a stock black iron fireplace with a dirty metal screen and a gas pipe. Churchill’s came out and removed the old “innards” and installed a remote-control artificial log set-up, which looks great and generates a lot of heat (with an adjustable flame). They also measured for a stainless-steel fireplace “frame”/surround that attaches via magnets to the old ugly metal. The only reason I did not give them 5 stars is that the magnets came welded in the wrong place and had to be sent back. The final product looks great, is really heavy and of excellent qualify, and has held up beautifully.
3300 Bee Caves Road #375
The Front Door Company – 5 Stars – We wanted to replace the dated, generic front door with a more modern, tall, solid wood door and side-light panel, Tracy worked with the Front Door Company to design a new door exactly as she had envisioned. It was expensive, but the process was smooth from start to finish, and the door turned out beautifully. The craziest thing was that one young guy came out and installed this massive door (and sidelight panel) in one afternoon without any assistance. These guys are real experts, and everyone we dealt with during the process was professional, helpful, and really nice. It was well worth the price to get such great-quality work that ended up improving the whole look of the house.