Best Houston Contractors of 2011
Preferred Home Inspections | Spring, Texas
During an inspection on what would have been member Jasper Juhl's first home, licensed home inspector and four-time Super Service Award winner Fernando Martinez came to Juhl and asked: "What do you really like about this house? It's really a money pit."
The Houston resident says the inspection by Martinez, who works alongside his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Elissa, both licensed home and mold inspectors, revealed problems ranging from a crumbling foundation to discolored water.
"These guys must be the Realtor's worst nightmare, because if there's something wrong with the house, they'll find it," says Juhl, who's still looking for the right house.
The Martinezes, who donate to local health and community organizations, take a tag-team approach to home inspections. Between jobs, Elissa drives, Fernando talks to clients on the phone, and Wendy types up reports and emails them immediately, saving paper.
"We'll go 110 percent," Wendy says. "We make sure they know what they're getting into when they buy a house."
Bio-Tech Pest Control | Spring, Texas
When member Micah Hurt's twin daughters developed itchy bites, he worried it might be the bedbugs he'd heard so much about on the news. Two other pest control companies confirmed that diagnosis, but the Bellaire resident still wasn't convinced, so he called Bio-Tech.
The licensed pesticide applicators looked at the girls' symptoms, the beds and the single bug the other companies used as evidence, and quickly reassured Hurt he had no infestation. The bites turned out to be a reaction to mosquitoes, but Hurt hired Bio-Tech to treat the baseboards for carpet beetles as a precaution - with a chemical safe for his daughters.
"I won't call any other pest control company," Hurt says. "They had a combination of knowledge and honesty that others didn't."
Jason Pitman, who co-owns the company with Pierre Riettini, says taking care of customers is his No. 1 priority. "When I got into this business, I realized it's a lot more about taking care of people than just killing bugs," says Pitman, who took over running the business in 1995, four years after it was founded. "We work very hard at the simple things in business."
The company strives to hire only reliable employees, and trains each to protect clients' homes by always wearing shoe covers. Today, the company boasts 25 employees, who attend monthly training sessions on topics such as label comprehension and laws and regulations.
The technicians' knowledge translates into customer education, which was what most impressed Spring member Chris Thompson. After she spotted a rat in her pantry, she panicked. She'd seen rats in the neighborhood, but was horrified to find one in her home and near her food.
Bio-Tech plugged the holes and Thompson got a new trash can, fixed a leaky pipe and began storing pet food differently. "I thought: 'Why is this happening?'" she recalls. "They explained to me why it was there, why they're going to come back and what I need to do to prevent it."
Southeast Tree | La Porte, Texas
Member Lisa Wilhelm appreciated how easy it was to communicate with Southeast Tree owner Hans Bilderback. "When I talked to him on the phone, he understood what I needed immediately," the Houston resident says.
"They got in and out, and got it done." After removing a large tree and pruning several others, Bilderback's follow-up was also perfect: When she found an errant branch under a bush, Wilhelm says he had it cleaned up that day.
Bilderback, whose business of 23 years requires no license, believes customers respond to his friendliness and work ethic, as well as his eco-friendly practice of mulching dead wood.
"When we leave a job site, we want it to look better than when we got there," says Bilderback, who's involved in all jobs with a small crew of employees.
Irrigation Resources | Bellaire, Texas
When member Emily Zermeno arrived for her appointment with Irrigation Resources owner John Weaver, he'd already started repairing the improperly installed sprinkler system at her Houston home.
She hired him again to install more sprinkler heads in July. He and a helper dug up large tree roots during record high temperatures but refused to charge for the extra labor. "I said: 'I'm sorry, I think you need to charge extra,'" she recalls. "He said: 'I gave you a bid, I'm happy.'"
Weaver, who started the business in 1983 and holds a landscape irrigation specialist license, built a reputation giving customers more than they ask for. He repairs and designs systems to keep landscaping alive, even amid drought.
"It gives me a bit of pride when I install something a homeowner is happy with, and I'm proud to put my name on," he says.
More Best Houston Contractors of 2011
Find these companies' full profiles at angieslist.com to read more about what makes their service superlative
Appliance Service of Houston | Houston
Bayou City Stoneworks/Granite Surfaces | Stafford, Texas
Eric Herrera Tile | Houston
Gulf Coast Sprinkler Service | League City, Texas
High Quality Sheetrock Repair | Houston
Houston Repair & Remodeling | Spring, Texas
Mike Tidwell Plumbing Co. | Sugar Land, Texas
Native Texas Wildscapes | Houston
Richmond Ave Precision Locksmith | Houston
Southwest Garage Door of Houston | Houston
Stone Master Patios & Masonry | Houston
Stuart's Pest Control | Houston
Sugar Land Electric | Sugar Land, Texas