Buyer Beware! Carick Home Improvements is a bad choice for a major renovation. Look beyond the slick marketing and don’t believe anything unless it’s in writing. Carick’s estimate was higher (by at least 30%) than the other contractors but they sold me in April 2012, with their promise of quality and professionalism and overall management. But 19 weeks later, all Carick supplied was bad planning, inactivity and endless excuses.
Carick had a lot of other renovation projects on the go this spring and summer, which is apparently why they didn’t do any planning or scheduling for my whole-house renovation. After 4½ months, they didn’t even complete the gut-out!
My renovation involved completed updating the main floor with an open concept living area and making a new basement suite and front entrance. The house was emptied and vacated at the end of April, with Carick agreeing to oversee the whole project and work with the two other companies (masonry and HVAC).
Carick’s foreman, George, made only a few brief visits over 19 weeks. The most time George spent on the job-site was at my first meeting with him and that was because we had to wait more than 90 minutes for his plumbing subcontractor to show up! After they all laughed and chatted together for a few minutes, George left without a word to me. I can count on one hand the number of times he was at my site after that.
The plumber did the rough for the new basement suite and ignored the leaking 50-year-old ball valve main water shut-off. When I called Carick about this, they agreed to send the plumber back and I paid the City to turn off the water to the house. The valve was replaced and a month later, I realized the pipe and valve would have to be moved because they were in the middle of what was going to be the living room floor of the new suite! I called Carick, paid the City again to shut off the water and they sent their subcontractor back.
Glaring evidence of bad planning was when Carick installed new windows on the main floor and then closed off the front entrance before doing the gut-out. Weeks later when the demolition began, all the debris was thrown out via my new window. I asked for and was promised a demolition chute, which was never provided. You can imagine what throwing old flooring and drywall out the window by the bucket and shovelful did to my new window. The only reason for sequencing the work like this appears to be the $10,000 progress payment for the new windows. The demolition lurched ahead over many more weeks. Sometimes there was no one there for over a week. Other times, one kid who clearly needed supervision was there by himself for a few days per week. This kid secured the house by dragging a box spring and mattress across the hole for the new back door. After some time, raccoons move in and started using the master bedroom as a toilet.
In September, when there was still no planning and little work done, I realized that Carick either could not or would not provide the quality materials and services that Joel promised and his excuses for the inactivity were no longer even remotely credible.
Before hiring Carick, Joel was fully aware of and agreeable to working with the mason doing the concrete work. (The mason has been in the trade for 30 years and gets all of his work by word-of-mouth referrals from homeowners and other contractors). The original plan was to underpin the foundation but due to a high water table in this area, the engineer deemed it prudent to drop this from the plan and simply install new weeping tiles, drains and sump pits. This actually resulted in the concrete work in the basement being done faster than it would have been with underpinning but after the fact, Carick is trying claim this is why they couldn’t do any work. I never heard this flimsy excuse before I pulled the plug on Carick and doesn’t make any sense, since Carick was telling me how they wanted to the mason to schedule his work.
No one is perfect and something will likely be missed or messed up in a major renovation. But Carick missed even big stuff because they devote the resources needed to manage this project.
As I became more and more concerned about the pace and lack of planning, I also had to worry about the quality of materials that Carick was using. Three-quarter inch plywood was specified for the new subfloors but half-inch was delivered. The last straw was Carick saying they needed an additional $5,000 to install 16 ceiling joists (24 foot 2-by-10s) instead of a beam. This is something that became evident after the existing ceiling was being taken down and Carick is now trying to say that these “design and layout changes” also delayed them.
My down payment and their payment schedule ensured that Carick Home Improvements was way ahead on the money, paid more than double the value of the work and material provided. (If you still want to hire Carick, have your lawyer review everything before you sign, including the payment schedule.) For 2 months, Carick ignored my complaint and request for a refund of money paid for services that were not delivered only to say they are not going to give any of my money back, but they “hope there are no hard feelings