Purchased house in February. We discovered an acute on chronic water damage issue (from a window caulking failure+\-vinyl decking failure) that caused significant water damage around two windows that also damaged exterior OSB below window frames and rotted rim board/ledger board segments below the two windows. Work entailed to remove vinyl decking, affected deck plywood, remove stucco to expose the rotted OSB, remove 6-8 inches of stucco above entire deck surface to prep for new vinyl, remove & replace rotted OSB, remove and properly seal two affected windows over the deck, remove & replace two segments of rim board/ledger board, and cut/sister-in joists under deck. This repair was not covered by insurance.
We interviewed 4 companies for this job and also read many reviews before hiring. AICO was the last company we interviewed and was also the successful bid for this project. They were chosen not because they were the cheapest (they were in fact initially higher than some of our early quotes) but because of good first impressions, mostly positive social media reviews and a project manager/owner that offered a lot of empathy and reassurance. The owner also made a point of driving out and introducing himself and to assess the job requirements. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the reconstruction phase we got caught up in an internal company issue where the project manager assigned to our repair took employment with another company. This subsequently caused significant delays to our repair and resulted in a lot of stress in sorting the issues out. A summary of positive and negatives include:
- had an excellent first impression as project manager and company manager visited homeowner and were present at the same time as the insurance adjuster to help make a case for insurance coverage (which unfortunately did not pan out). However their effort to plead on my behalf impressed.
- Availability to start repairs was very fast (until internal issues arose that delayed the project)
- the company manager was easy to reach and was attentive to customer concerns and provide solutions/negotiate. I was especially impressed when the manager arranged a conference call on a Friday evening at 9pm before a long weekend to discuss issues that arose with a subcontractor . Another positive experience was that the 50% deposit was able to be negotiated. After we felt uncomfortable with a 50% deposit, they were able to compromise with a 20% deposit and 80% on completion.
- accountability: When discrepancies were noted in billing or accidental damages occurred in the home - the company owner took responsibility of the problem and took reasonable steps to resolve the issues
- company manager did a visit on completion to pick up the final payment but also came in to check repair. He did take steps to resolve a substandard repaired baseboard that did not meet homeowner quality expectations.
- Company used treated wood to replace ledger board and rim board
- Company consulted a structural engineer (of homeowners choice) prior to any rim board repair. This was an extra expense that the homeowner took on but their caution with structural integrity left a positive impression.
- Company is not a BBB member
- The job to repair affected areas of the first window was quoted for the "job". To repair affected areas of the second window (which was discovered later) the manager gave us two options: pay for the job or pay hourly. I was advised hourly was less confusing and likely the cheaper of the two options. In retrospect the hourly billing became confusing and some discrepancies did arise. However, the company was very responsive to when the discrepancies were brought up and charges were amended (it was a lot of extra work for us to figure out billing).
- Prepayment: During reconstruction phase, 50% down payment was requested before any work was done. However owner was able to negotiate 20% prepayment for us when we didn't feel comfortable with the first request.
In summary, the company did complete and deliver on the repair work. The owner was very responsive to our concerns until job completion. Due to unforeseen issues, the job wound up being quite stressful and it did not go smoothly as we had anticipated. On a positive note, the owner of the company was pleasant/flexible to work with through the entire experience. Felt that the company could improve on some major issues such as having way more quality control audits (more frequent manager drop-in or have quality control personnel to drop by and scrutinize work: no job is too small in my opinion for this step). Audits would also ensure workers are placing proper protection to flooring and containing construction debris. Better measures need to be taken to affix tarps better to exterior stucco areas under construction. Hourly billing option was stressful . Another recommendation for improvement is to reevaluate asking for 50% deposits unless there is a prepaid contractor license. We felt paying 50% prior to any work commencement was atypical.