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Basement & Foundation reviews in Chittenango

  • B
    CNY Handyman Inc
    We hired O'Tooles Handyman Service to remodel a basement room (drywall, windows, and lighting) and perform drywall work upstairs replacing a 70's era stone wall (plaster stone glued onto painted drywall). 
    O'Tooles does not offer a single quote like other contractors which covers both materials and labor.  Instead, they write an estimate.  The estimate is their guess at the total materials needed and total hours of labor.  The bill you pay at the end is for any materials purchased by them plus the total of hours labor (literally number of hours times the hourly rate).  They purchase all materials at Home Depot by default, or you can supply the materials.  They do not markup the materials they purchase, although they do charge per-hour labor for the time that their folks are buying materials and travel time to/from Home Depot.
    Our observations from the job.
    1)  While O'Tooles does not markup materials they purchase, we did have challenges with materials estimates.  The original estimate, which was given by the person who did the work after an on-site inspection, was significantly lower than what the initial materials purchase ended up being (it was estimated at "a few hundred dollars" and it ended up being more than 1700, and there was additional material cost past that).  In fairness, part of the overrun was caused by changes we asked for in the job and additional work needed after the wall was opened, but the estimator (the guy that was on site doing the work) did a very poor job at estimating and then relaying that estimate (and the increase in materials cost) to me.  If I had to do it over again, I would have the estimator detail the materials list and costs at the time of estimate, and again as we changed the scope of work, in order to avoid substantive misunderstandings.
    2)  All labor is billed by the hour.  Unlike other contractors who give a quote for the job (and who then have an incentive to complete the job as soon as possible to maximize their profit), O'Tooles only gives an estimate for total labor hours.  This is both a bug and feature.  O'Tooles will say this is a feature as this allows the customer complete control over the number of hours paid for and this would be correct.  The bug in this approach, however, is that this forces the customer to very closely monitor the hours worked by the on-site personnel and ensure that each hour is being used in the way they want.  In other words, much of the management responsibility is shifted from O'Tooles to the customer.  We didn't quite realize that for a few days and after an "interesting" conversation with O'Tooles in which we threatened to have them leave (and they came closer than they think to that), we came to an agreement and was able to mostly complete the job.  My recommendation, based on this experience, is to only use the per-hour labor rate for smaller jobs (like up to a few days of total labor) and insist on a fixed-price labor rate for larger jobs than that.
    The work performed was satisfactory.  The on-site guys, working with us, were able to come up with solutions to issues as they arose (when you open a wall, you never quite know what is going to happen). 
    Based on our experiences, we would not recommend O'Tooles for large jobs (weeks of work) but would for smaller jobs (days of work) primarily due to the way that they bill for labor.  Ironically, we ended having them do less work than we originally wanted because of that despite having two contractor quotes in-hand for less money and more work than O'Tooles performed.  We picked O'Tooles because of their good rating on Angie's List and, as stated before, would not use them for any large job again.
    - Richard C.
  • D
    Woodford Bros Inc
    We obtained several estimates, including from Woodford. Woodford was in the middle, price-wise, and had a good reputation so we chose them. We had a good experience with Woodford's scheduler who did a good job of keeping us informed of when the job would start. When the workers arrived, the first thing that happened was that they ended up tearing up the yard more than the estimator and I had discussed. The estimator and I talked about that and there was no way around it at that point, so we proceeded. When removing dirt, the estimator significantly underestimated the amount of dirt to be removed and fortunately they agreed to haul off two dump truck loads of and quot;extraand quot; dirt. When doing the concrete work, they made quite a mess and some concrete splashing occurred on a garage door (which I had installed within the past 6 months) and at the end of the project (after a lot of whining) they cleaned it up. The repair itself (core-filling two walls, installing rebar, using jacks to put the wall back in its original position, etc) was done fairly well. But, there were lots of problematic details. What probably should have been a 3-day job ended up taking more than a week because of equipment failures (a bobcat was dragged from the yard on the first day because it broke down -- breakdowns happen), weather issues, and lack of advance planning. I had to let them use my pressure washer before parging because they forgot theirs in the office and they would have lost quite a bit of time running to get it. They had to make several trips to the local hardware store for similar reasons. They borrowed some of my shovels and forgot to return one (unfortunately, my wife's favorite shovel, so that was more painful :-)). The project started on Tuesday and on Friday they left and said they'd be back on Saturday to really finish everything up. Before they left on Friday I called the estimator to complain about the state of things (there was more yard damage even past what we'd discussed earlier in the week, and other issues) and he eventually agreed to a discount. He had the audacity to say to me on the phone that they were losing money because it had taken them more time than they had scheduled despite the fact that the delays were all either on them or beyond their control (like an unexpected breakdown); had they finished in two days, they would have expected me to pay the full amount and not a discounted amount. At any rate, on Saturday we happened to get a brief rain shower and they made a huge mess with ruts everywhere and enough mud covering the entire driveway that it was unusable. They didn't attempt to clean up their mess but left the driveway in that condition. When they left on Saturday, they said and quot;we'll get back here sometime next week to finish the joband quot;. Rain happens, but leaving my driveway in a huge mess was completely unacceptable since we had no timeframe other than and quot;next weekand quot; when they would return. I ended up pressure washing part of the driveway so we could use it. I sent the estimator an email showing the exact state of the job on Saturday and they returned on Tuesday. They pressure washed the entire driveway (that took about three hours, including using my gas for their pressure washer, and not including the two hours I'd spent on Saturday). To be fair, they ended up needing more gas past that and refilled my gas can but they would not have refilled it had they not still run out. On Tuesday they also brought a landscaping machine which basically smoothed out the ruts and the like making it close to ready for us to put sod down. The discount they gave us basically paid for the sod -- they offered to put hay and grass seed down but that was an unacceptable solution given we have a puppy that needed to use the backyard. Their machinery also damaged the gutters on the garage (on both sides of the garage) and the neighbor's fence and Woodford has not, to date, offered to pay for that damage. The parging on the exterior of the house has runs in it from the final finishing work which was not properly done; I am hopeful that those will disappear with time. The goal of paying extra to have the entire wall (re)parged was to avoid having it look like a repair had been done and that goal was not achieved. Parts of the fence were not adequately reinstalled (as examples, the fence posts were neither level or secure and the chain link between fence posts was not reattached to the horizontal support) and when I pointed that out to the guys here they didn't do anything about it; I have since taken some steps to sturdy the fence so my dog can't get out of the backyard. Overall, I would not choose to use Woodford again not because of the quality of the repair (I think the wall will never move again) but because of all the on-going series of issues while the work was going on and those which I've discovered afterwards.
    - Richard C.
  • B
    Wilcox Basement Systems Inc
    This is not an area they specialize in and while they gave me a quote they indicated they really didn't want to do it.  The person who visited was very knowledgeable and I learned quite a bit about the repair which we did go ahead with (but using another contractor).
    - Richard C.
  • A
    Affordable Solutions by Brian
    Being my first experience with home remodeling it went well. The end result was exactly what I wanted and it turned out great.
    - Jessica C.
  • A
    Canorro Plumbing
    It turned out very well. The quality was everything we had hoped for. They were very efficient and responsive to us if we needed them to come.
    - Kathleen S.
  • A
    Wilcox Basement Systems Inc
    They are very timely. They are unbelievably neat and tidy. Their system is working excellently. They were very reasonable compared to everyone else. I would definitely hire them again.
    - Janet S.
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Foundation & Basement Contractors in Chittenango

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