Pete was the first contractor to respond to our Service Magic request and his initial visit set a high benchmark for the other contractors who followed. For example, during that first meeting, he offered to take us to a nearby job that was similar to ours. That day, he introduced us to his crew and customers. In contrast, the other contractors who responded were reluctant to let us meet owners (previous customers) face-to-face and would not take us to an active job site. Pete was the only respondent to return with a sketched proposal. This showed us that he was a good listener and the drawing enabled us to discuss the project in greater detail. By contrast, another contractor returned only with a contract for us to sign in advance of any further discussion (he made it sound perfectly legitimate, but, having just experienced Pete's can-do approach, we could not imagine accepting anything less). We quickly learned that our eyes (and imagination) were bigger than our stomach (our very conservative guestimate of what we'd like to spend on the project). I suspect this phenomenon is quite common: Before we began, we "guessed" at what we might be willing to spend to get what we wanted. Pete was very conscientious about letting us know during the planning/design phase what the cost impact might be (say, to go from a one-car to a two-car garage, or adding a picture window upstairs) before revising preliminary drawings and estimates. I have to give him high marks for alerting (and reminding) us of the cost impact of our requests. I'm sure it is a difficult task to keep every owners' expectations in check, nonetheless, we really appreciated seeing the detailed worksheets for materials and labor, itemizing the impact of our request. Before we authorized the work to begin, Pete sat down with us and took us through the complete project line-by-line and page-by-page (drawings, cost details, schedule). He made sure that we understood and agreed with the exact scope of work and project cost before we signed off on moving forward. I think the nature of any renovation includes some uncertainty about what's behind a wall or buried in the ground, which one can never know for sure until a wall is demolished, or you start excavating. Pete did an excellent job anticipating these obstacles with a bit of line-item padding in the estimate so, for example, when the footings on our existing carport slab proved insufficient to support a two-story structure there was sufficient reserve in the estimate to handle the additional labor and materials to meet structural requirements. I think we were lucky in that a) Pete had the foresight to recognize many unknowns; b) he devised an economical solution to the problem; c) of all the gotchas that could come up during a renovation, those that occurred in our project were not that costly. Once construction began, Pete's people were on site at the crack of dawn. They were polite and tidy and said 'hello' and 'goodbye' as we came and went. The jobsite was kept orderly and all refuse was kept in the dumping trailer that Pete brought in. I must confess that as the project began, my wife and I grew very excited by the prospect of having a new garage and bonus room and the more we thought about our dream becoming a reality, the more we asked Pete to make little adjustments and enhancements that expanded the scope of work. We learned that just because a wall exists only as a line drawn on a piece of paper doesn't mean that moving that wall incurs no cost -- there's a lot of engineering that goes into every single line on a set of construction documents and some seemingly modest changes can require additional review and approval by structural engineers and building inspectors (all of which cost time and money). It would have been unreasonable of us to ask for any change however modest and expect it to have no impact to project cost or timeline. Pete was always good about letting us know the ballpark time/cost impact of our "modest upgrades" before accepting our authorization to proceed with redesign and revised cost estimating. When it was time for us to approve each change, Pete dutifully sat us down and reviewed it all line-by-line, just as he did during the initial authorization of work. My wife and I were, of course, quite busy and there were times when we would have preferred just to phone-in the go-ahead, but Pete trained us well, insisting that each change be approved by us in writing only after a complete briefing on its impact to cost and timeline. One thing I really appreciate about Pete is his attention to detail and quality. He recommended premium materials and took the time to differentiate their value to us and to our home. For example, we could have gone with cheaper roofing materials than Kevlar sheathing "felt" and for that matter we could have left part of the old shingled roof instead of re-shingling the whole thing, but the peace of mind we obtained by doing it right with materials that last was priceless compared to the small increase in cost. There were some items we splurged on: Half-way through, we decided on premium carpet upstairs instead of a painted floor. Since the bonus room was to be heated and air conditioned and our whole-house HVAC system was nearing its end-of-life, we bit the bullet and purchased a multi-zone HVAC system for the entire house (definitely not in the initial budget). We wanted to use the garage as a year-round playroom so we added insulation and a mini-split heater/AC for the garage. My wife was concerned about noise from my rock-and-roll garage band leaking back into the house so we double-wrapped the garage walls and ceiling with sheetrock. Also, we chose premium Hardy board siding instead of Masonite. We also decided that a concrete driveway leading up to our new garage would be much nicer than our old gravel driveway, so Pete added that to the scope of work, as well. These were costs (and timeline extensions) that we knowingly added to the project (Pete certainly would not have added them on his own without our approval) and we are so glad we did, because, in the end, we got exactly what we asked for! Even with these adjustments, I believe we still came in below revised budget and timeline. We simply cannot imagine another contractor matching Pete's creativity, attention to detail and professionalism. Since our project was completed, a number of our neighbors have also used Pete's company for their house projects. The neighborhood is really looking up.