A short version of the review: I would not recommend this company. Please, keep reading for more details.
* he acts all professional, lots of experience, great taste in house design
* he can be very helpful in the beginning when you make decisions
* electric work is great, the house is very bright and nice (thanks to Sergey)
* stretch ceiling in bathroom is pretty cool
* we like the overall result, even if it is not entirely finished and has flaws (almost did not want to write this one, but I have to be honest)
* ignores you when he does not feel it, blocks you if you bother him (but only after you paid a substantial amount of money)
* does not seem to care about smaller things, e.g. scratched corners or floorboards, or even acrylic bathtub, holes in the walls and the kitchen, spots on the walls
* missing deadlines very badly, no way to enforce them according to his typical contract (he never admits his failures, always blaming everybody else, including his sub-contractors, vendors, or even cleaners)
* often not truthful, especially when promising something to be done (cue: if he says "tomorrow" that is not true in 95% of cases)
We hired Rafael (Porevit Inc) to renovate the main floor of our smallish bungalow at the end of September 2016, with the end date set to the end of November 2016 (2 months). The list of things (not very detailed in the contract we signed) includes removing a wall in the kitchen, replacing the floor, windows, inside doors, remodeling the bathroom, and lots of electrical work (new lines, switches, pot lights, etc.) Due to the pretty bad condition of old plywood, there was a separate contract to replace it (to prevent the floor from squeaking.) We ordered a new kitchen (subject to a separate contract.) We were promised that even though the timing is tight, everything will be done in time, so we will be able to move in by the end of November.
We couldn't have been happier in the beginning. Work started, things were moving, Rafael was very professional, and with all the experience he has his suggestions were very reasonable, and the result should have been great. That was until somewhere in October, when all the work suddenly stopped. We would visit the house now and then,– and there would be no changes. We would call Rafael, and he would answer immediately, convince us that everything goes according to the plan, and we are still on schedule.
About two weeks before the end date, we finally started seeing progress. People would come and go, but it started becoming apparent that it won't be ready. We have delayed our moving multiple times by Rafael's request ("we just need one more day," "cleaners did not show up, so it is not ready," "if you give me one more day, I will help you move"). So, in the end, we moved into a house, which had somewhat finished bedrooms and bathroom, but no kitchen (fortunately, we have one in the basement) or living room. That is when we figured that our kitchen was not supposed to have a counter top at all (huge surprise, since in the beginning we asked to install a cheap, simple one temporarily, and he agreed), so we had to order one quickly. During the week after we moved nobody showed up. Rafael did not answer our calls. Then finally things started moving: kitchen was being assembled, light switches and outlets installed, fixing million of small things that were left behind. It was in progress all December, and it came to a livable state before the New Year. Still lots of outstanding issues, both small and big ones, but better than was in the beginning.
December was a tipping point. After being responsive and professional, Rafael started ignoring calls, promising "I will stop by tomorrow," and not coming, and fixing everything with silicone. But at that time we were already so tired of all this, living in the middle of a construction project, spending days waiting for somebody to show up and finally finish the job. Last time we heard from Rafael was December 28 (he texted "can't come today, stuck somewhere else").
Then came January. He does not pick up the phone, does not respond to text messages or voicemails. At the end of January my phone number was blocked and went right to voicemail every time I called. We have received one SMS "Hi, I'm here, will come on Wednesday" on January 23rd. Next reply on February 3rd was "Sasha will stop by the end of the next week." What the heck? So, here we are, with a squeaking floor and many gaps between floorboards, a hole in the floor of the master bedroom (where ventilation should be), the mess of exposed electric wires dangling from the ceiling in the basement, and lots of other small things, and no way to contact our contractor. Unfortunately, we paid almost in full (about $1,000 left, we have never delayed a single payment), so he apparently not interested in finishing this project. Our contract did not define any fees for delays, or requirements for availability, or anything that could protect us from unfairness. Too bad we figured this out only when it was too late.
What now? After all this waiting he finally stopped by on February 13th, his employee replaced lights in one of the closets (one of two), collected list of "things that are not finished", and promised that "tomorrow during the day people will be coming and fixing things one by one." Needless to say, nobody came. Nobody answered my text messages.