VGC’s process from a client perspective was inefficient, largely uncommunicative, and lacked oversight. Not the “premium experience” promised and paid for. We will not work with them again.
There were issues with their design and some of the materials that were ordered. Issues we discovered and had to bring to their attention. Their team did not seem to talk or debrief about our project to ensure everyone was up to speed.
Our entire home needed to be wired for smoke detectors as per the permitting standards for our community. This was a substantial extra cost that wasn’t built into the budget by VGC and something a contractor who worked there for many years should’ve known.
Communication was spotty at best. Often there was no response to questions until we pushed for them, and responses received were often incomplete and required additional follow up.
The project manager was often unaware when trades did not show up as planned. His visits to the work site to check on progress or provide quality control for the trades seemed sporadic, and he did a poor job keeping us informed.
It took substantial back and forth to deal with the deficiencies. At one point we were told it was impossible and unrealistic for them to meet with every client who was having a problem and that we should deal with the sub-contractor ourselves.
During the deficiencies process we said the shower wasn’t draining completely. They responded this was “normal” for a tile shower and it would eventually. When pressed, they responded “it passed inspection.” The shower does not completely drain and always has standing water.
From the date we signed the contract it took almost 12 weeks before demolition began, and over six months to fully complete the project. While the VGC staff we dealt with were always well meaning, they were overly busy and distracted by juggling multiple projects. We never felt that we had the full attention of anyone for any length of time.
- Company Response
As the General Manager of Vancouver General Contractors, I would like to start off by sending you our deepest apologies for the frustrations you seem to have had in working with our company for your renovation. Our goals are always to help people achieve their renovations through a positive and enjoyable experience. So when we see feedback like this, we not only listen but we act on it, so I wanted to thank you for your insight.
I did also want to touch base on some of your points that you brought up.
I agree that having to upgrade all the smoke detector was an additional cost and inconvenience, but it was requested from the inspector. You mentioned that this should have been something that we should have known prior to starting the project. Unfortunately, items like these are discretionary from the inspector, as are many other items in an older home, which can be upgraded, but not always requested from the inspector. We have done a lot of projects in Richmond and just finished a full main floor renovation with a kitchen and bathroom, the home was about the same age as your, but the inspector for that unit did not request for the smoke detectors to be upgraded. I know it's never fun having to pay more for a surprise item, but we do our best to foresee any issues that may come up, but at the end of the day, the inspector has final say as to what he or she wants to see happen.
DELAY IN STARTING;
I appreciate your concerns with how long the project took to start, as it took 12 weeks to get it started. I can let you know that there is a process with how we go about starting a job when the client confirms moving forward with the renovation.
1. We have an internal meeting with the team to review the project and what needs to get done to get it started.
2. A timeline is set to meet with the client and start going over all the materials and making the required selection with our interior designers.
3. We get all of our documents in line to apply for the required permits, which can take up to 6 weeks.
4. Materials are finalized and sourced with vendors.
5. Construction documents are prepared which represent the materials selected by the client and our interior designers, and all details are to be included in the drawings.
6. We take our trades to the job site, when the construction drawings are completed to review the project.
7. Schedules are made to reflect the work, and what needs to get done.
8. Project gets started.
I do appreciate the fact that you did want to get the project started sooner, but many times it is not possible to get started until all the details and permits are ready.
You mention that you felt that the communication was lacking and that some of your questions were not answered properly. Again I do apologize for that, and we do try to put an emphasis on communication and making sure are clients are clear as to what is happening and what to expect. Since we met at your home, and listened to your feedback, we did take some actions to improve on our process as and communication. We did find that we were getting busier and although our Project Managers were getting the work done, communication was starting to lack. That is why we decided to bring on a few more PM as well as designers to ensure that our clients get the best possible experience.
We have also updated our internal system to improve on communication and clarity of the project with our clients, and we are finding that the results are substantial.
DEALING WITH TRADES;
I do have to apologize for the fact you were asked to deal with the trades yourself, as that is not our policy. We do however ask client if they are on site, to give specifics to the trades on site with regards to certain items. This is a standard practice, and the trades would know what it is they needed to do, but sometimes ask the client for how they would like to see it finished, as people have different opinion on final aesthetics. Again this is also an issue that we have corrected over the past few months with additional resources, and will keep on working on until we perfect it.
SHOWER NOT FULLY DRAINING;
Also you mentioned that the shower was not fully draining. I did get a chance to go over this with you at your home and I do recall you pointing this out to me. I do want to mention that it is a custom shower base, which is tiled. That means that there will be some groves where water will sit, but when we did look at it, it was draining just slowly due to the slope. You are also correct that we did say it met code as all the work was inspected and passed, and should you have any issues with you shower, we will be more than happy to resolve it with the warranty that we offer you.
At the end of that day, we will always stand behind our work, and beside our clients to see it to the end. We have never left a job unfinished no matter that the circumstances. We do work in a high variable industry where there are a lot of moving parts. We do our best to ensure that we cover all angels, but things come up as this is construction, and we try to deal with them to the best of our abilities. I know that we are not a perfect company, but we strive to be, and will continually look to improve as our mission is to provide our clients with a positive renovation experience.
Again, we do apologize for any stress or inconvenience you may have experienced, but your comments do mean a lot to us, and we will keep working on improving, and should you ever need anything in the future, we will always be happy to assist you.