Birmingham area's best and worst contractors of 2008
by Valerie Christopher
In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Birmingham contractors who have earned the distinction of being best or worst in the Birmingham area.
Citrus Solution Carpet Cleaning
Customers of Citrus Solution Carpet Cleaning know up front that owner Mike Braun’s carpet-cleaning approach is a little different. “When we’re done, it smells like oranges,” Braun says. Angie’s List members rave about the safe and effective process.
“I’ve worked with Mike for years, and he’s tremendous,” Teri Hennington says. “You can’t beat this product — I have pets and am very picky about my carpets.”
Braun says repeat customers are a crucial component of his business. He often rewards referrals with a chance to win discounted or free cleanings. “We make a point to ask about problems instead of avoiding them,” Braun says.
Angie’s List member L. Johnson gathered estimates from six painters to ensure he hired the best to refurbish his home’s exterior. Estes Painting owner Mike Estes showed up within four hours of the phone call. “He gave me a detailed outline of what he was going to do,” Johnson says. “He was very courteous and easy to work with. Finding workers who go the extra mile is unusual.”
Estes started his business five years ago. Since then, the “A”-rated contractor says he’s kept his small staff abreast of modern painting techniques. The crew also finds time to provide free work to Birmingham’s Christian Life Church.
Estes says his happy customers are generating more business during this tough economy. “I believe it’s from doing what you say you’re going to do and doing it right,” Estes says. “I don’t do anything special other than good work.”
Birmingham Angie’s List member John Emmel took Darryl Marsh, owner of Marsh Painting, to civil court in April and won, but he says he’s not expecting a full refund anytime soon. “We reached an agreement in front of the judge for him to pay me $100 a month, but the next thing I know, he filed for bankruptcy and all I ever got was $100,” Emmel says.
Emmel says he paid Marsh $1,000 to drywall and caulk his garage, do some painting and replace two doors. After getting the deposit, he says Marsh never returned to perform the work.
Paul and Claudia Spencer of Birmingham hired Marsh to paint the exterior of their home, which included the trim, windows, garage doors and shutters. “The estimate was for $3,150,” Claudia says. “He came by and said he needed to collect a third up front for more supplies. I gave him the check, but he never returned and half of my house was painted.”
Claudia says Marsh pressure washed their home and painted about three windows, completing only $500 worth of work and allegedly disappearing with their $1,000 deposit. The Spencers filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and an “F” report with Angie’s List.
Marsh Painting has an overall “C” on the List, with four bad reports. All positive reports on the company came in 2006. Marsh also has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB based on 24 complaints received in the past 36 months. Three of those complaints have been resolved, but the customers remain dissatisfied, according to the BBB. Emmel says the contractor comes off as a nice guy and believes he won’t stop until he’s facing criminal charges, which is why he thinks Marsh could still be doing business in the area without the required Alabama license. But Marsh denies this claim. “I’m not working,” he told Angie’s List Magazine. “This is a difficult time for me. I may get back to doing work or I may relocate.”