This past summer, we had a need. We had grown tired of the now-horrendous builder's steps that were 20+ years old, all cracked and worn. The walkway was difficult to traverse, with strange demi-steps tucked away secretively so that one would break their ankle if they didn't pay full attention. The steps up to the porch were seemingly 20' high each, you needed to be a super athlete (it seemed) to get up the 2 steps to the front porch. I exaggerate, but you get the point. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't working.
So as an experienced HomeStars user, I took to the web to find local contractors that would be able to quote on the job. I had no idea of the price/cost of the job or the timelines needed. Heck, if a contractor had told me "It'll cost you X, but we're all booked up for this year, we'll book you in for June 2018" then I would have been open to the idea.
Some contractors said "We don't do Newmarket, too far." Some said "We're all booked full for this year..." and didn't extend the option of hiring them for next year. Some contractors came by, and made as if we were allllllll best friends. "Don't worry about a price. I'll do good work." or "Nah, I don't have a quote sheet. Just trust me. I do good work." "You want that in writing? Oh no no no..." My favourites were the ones who would give me a quote "Concrete Job. $X" and not specify anything in terms of what materials, what steps or processes, not specify the nature of the job or any details beyond "Concrete job" with a price. For SOME, this may be good enough. For me, I wanted a job in writing that specified what I was getting, what the service being provided was, and what materials/methods were being used.
After eliminating many of the quotes-on-the-back-of-a-napkin types, I whittled the list down to 3.
1) One was a masonry company that allegedly (I can't confirm this) may or may not take the $$$ and sub contract it out for pennies on the dollar. This guy wanted something in the range of $20k for the job. OUCH! If I were in a super rich ultra-affluent neighbourhood with a huge project in mind, I can see that. But this guy's pricing was sky high. YES, the project quoted was to bring the walkway up to National Building Code....strong enough to park a fleet of 747 airplanes on. That was a bit beyond the immediate scope and need of the project. No deal.
2) The second quote was for about $10k or so. Included options for a rubber-coated patio and was also fairly detailed in the work. Good reputation. And they admitted that they were more expensive than others. No subcontractors, all work done in-house.
3) Then there was Gian at Churchill Construction. Yes, his price was half that of the other guy's, or one-quarter of the "Park a 747 here!" contractor, and that was NOT why we hired him. His quote was detailed, specific. He answered all our questions and even patiently explained all the specs and lingo and mumbo-jumbo found in many quotes, explained what it all meant and why it all mattered, and provided options. The more I researched different construction techniques or concrete additives, the more Gian would patiently and expertly answer all questions without a sigh or a groan or any upset at all. Gian was easy to reach by phone, text, or email. Gian also managed our expectations for the job, told us how long it would take, how long we'd need to stay off it, after-care, etc, so we knew how to be ready and what we'd need to do.
We hired Churchill Construction and waited to be put in queue for the job to start. Gian notified us a few days out of the planned start date so that we could arrange to park on the street and clear the driveway. On the day of the job, Gian and the crew from Churchill Construction were already onsite before 7am, prepping the job site.
It's a pet peeve, I hate it when a contractor shows up and says "Hey, buddy, got a screwdriver / hammer / laser level / diamond-tipped saw I can borrow???" That did NOT happen with Churchill Construction. They brought all their own tools and equipment, came prepared to do the job and knew what had to be done.
The job got done on time and on budget, and we are very happy with the quality of work done by Churchill Construction. Yes, we would highly recommend them to anybody!!
The test will be to see how well the walkway holds up over the winter freeze/thaw cyle, see if any cracks appear come 2018.