After looking around for a designer contractor for our renovation project, we decided on working with My House based on their reputations, reviews on line and their open approach. The project entailed removing the roof and adding a third bedroom, bathroom and closets on the upper level, openning up main floor.
The initial meeting with one of their project managers, was good, they said all the right words. Working with you, listening to your requests, working within your budget, etc. We were impressed, liked them, and wanted to move forward. They asked us for our ideas and wish list for the renovation. We were very clear on what we needed to accomplish for the budget we had given them versus what we hoped to include.
We had a meeting at their offices to review their proposal. The pricing for our wish list came in at our budget and was what we wanted so we gave them a go ahead for the next phase. We later found some inaccuracies in the pricing from the detailed worksheet they had provided. We had a further meeting to discuss this and discovered that their estimates for the project were off and we were double our original $200K budget. They knew the scope of the project, they understood what we wanted to accomplish, all the way through we asked them to advise us on what could be done within our budget. As experts in the renovation field, we thought they would provide guidance. But when the budget came in over there was no effort to work through this. No guidance provided. Their only suggestion was to continue paying them by the hour to start again.
We made the difficult decision to stop the project at this point. We didn't want to incure further costs on the project. We realized that we were paying for things we didn't want and received little to no value and they had little desire to help us meet our budget. With their cost plus model, each meeting added additional costs, regardless of the value we received. Some examples include: an interior designer who sat in on a meeting, even though it wasn't required at that stage, a back office estimator who billed us for time before we had anything to estimate; 19 hours of design time for a layout of a second floor and opening some walls on the main floor; a project manager to oversee each discussion. What is hard is that we liked them as people and wanted to work with them but they left us with no choice but to keep paying them.
We paided roughly $8,000 for the discovery that they were not able to fit everything on our wishlist into our budget. They didn't come back with any solutions on how to achieve the goal on budget, but just said the costs are the costs. Which leads me back to how we initially approached them, we had a clear understanding of our budget, clear understanding of the scope, and a prioritized list of requirement for the project.
Had they would have came back to us with a solution to bring the project back on budget we would have probably been open to moving forward with them. Or, if they came up with some quick drawings to change the estimate, but keeping with our initial goal of a 3rd bedroom. But no, they did not do this. We can only assume that they did not want to provide this without charging the client. Sometimes in the construction business you have to eat some time if you make mistakes. I know this as I'm in the industry as well.
After stopping the project, we requested the digital files for the drawings as we only recieved a 5 page concept report. We sent multiple emails and questions and requests, but no response for almost a month. To us, this shows how they treat clients when things don't go their way. If they can't bill you anymore, then you are the least of there priorities. We still had a deposit which we wanted returned, but it didn't affect them, so would be shelved until they had time to answer my multiple emails and calls. Finally after cancelling the project 2 months ago, I was given a pdf of my file and layouts.
I nievely expected that a professional company would have the experience to lead you in the right direction, but this has taught me that you really need to be knowledgeable on what you are doing. They run a big operation and have a machine to oil with client money.