Quality. It may be the most clichéd and ill-defined word that gets used when talking about contractors. Everyone says they build high-quality homes or run high quality projects, but what exactly does that mean? It can be easy to spot poor quality – tile that doesn’t line up, corners that aren’t square, poor fit and finish. Sometimes it is far more difficult, because shabby work is hidden beneath the drywall and is only discovered after costly damage has already been done. But how do consumers identify good quality?
Quality is easier to define when we look to the past. For example, my grandfather and father were both skilled contractors, and my uncles were master carpenters. Twenty years ago, a 2,000 square foot house was considered a custom home, and every element of it was painstakingly crafted by experts like them. The subsequent explosion of massive new neighborhoods meant that more and larger homes were mass-produced, and as a result, the level of quality buyers received was vastly different. Much of that occurs when skilled craftsmen are replaced with minimally skilled workers who may be learning their trade or who are not adept at what they are doing that day. On a day-to-day basis, it is these on-site workers who have the largest role in determining quality. That means that behind every great contractor is a team of qualified subcontractors. It can take a contractor years to find the right team of masters of their trades who work well together to make projects run smoothly. Some contractors don’t try to – they simply focus on finding the lowest bid. I think it is vitally important for homeowners to understand that and realize what a difference the attitude and skill of these trade partners will make in their project.
As Domenic Lepore, owner of HVAC firm Dac Services, Inc. and one of our trade partners for more than a decade, puts it. “The key to all of our work is that we remember that as contractors, we are customers, too. Do unto others as you would have done to yourself is more than a phrase to us; it’s how we approach every project. Some subcontractors don’t think like that, and as a result, the quality simply isn’t there. We’re always looking for ways to save customers money without sacrificing quality. We set our standards high, and Gary Palmer does the same.”
Indeed, at Palmer Custom Builders, we are a very tight family. We carefully hand select the subcontractors we entrust with our clients, because they represent us. As a result, we have built a legacy of happy clients and successful projects and are proud to share our stories. As Lepore puts it: “You can read all you want about a company – in publications, their advertisements, coupons – but it all comes down to word of mouth – what customers think of them and us.”
So when it comes to choosing a contractor, (after your due diligence has been done and you are considering only qualified firms) I believe the difference ultimately comes down to the person: the professionalism of the individual and how they define and maintain quality. Those are things you simply cannot put in a quote. That’s why I want to educate homeowners about how to make their investment count by choosing the right professional. While I certainly don’t expect everyone to choose us, I do want them to choose a reputable builder who will build their dream as if it were their own.