FAQ

Here are some common questions our clients have about our services. If your question isn’t here, please contact us!

What happens when I call?

The first meeting we have will be an information gathering site visit. Dave will come to your home, and will explore what you want to achieve. Your vision of the end result will guide his thinking on how to approach the project. Dave will ask you some detailed questions about the scope of the job, who you are working with for design, and timing considerations. From this discussion, Dave will determine the overall project plan, which sub-contract trades would be involved, and the finish level desired. That is what he needs to begin the bidding process.

Can you work with my architect or designer?

Absolutely! Dave and the team have years of experience working with the best architects and designers. Dave’s aim is to implement their designs with no compromise, and as cost-effective as possible. If you don’t have an architect/designer, Dave knows some of the best in New England. He can connect you with an architect or designer who will create a plan that complements the style of your home, and delivers the lasting value you seek.

How does the bidding process work?

After Dave has had a chance to think through the overall needs of your project, he’ll schedule a second meeting, in which his chosen sub-contractors will walk through the site with you, and with your architect/designer, to discuss the detailed requirements of the job. In this meeting, finishes, structural considerations in renovation, and any unusual features of the design will be discussed. The goal is to create a bid that encompasses all aspects of the job, so there are no surprises down the road. Of course there will always be some surprises, and that is yet another way that Bortell/Stroud is different – as you’ll see below.

What are allowances?

If your architect/designer specifies every detail, we’ll price your job based on those specifications. If this isn’t the case, then based on the desired finish levels and Dave’s experience in renovation,  he’ll put in placeholder prices, called allowances, for such details as the lighting fixtures, appliances, and bathroom details. Allowances are in the bid, and give an approximation of how much your job will cost, while giving you the freedom to adjust your design as the project evolves.

How do you estimate costs?

This is one of the big differences between Bortell/Stroud Associates and many other building contractors. Some contractors will put a rough estimate into their bid, without getting real numbers from sub-contractors and vendors. If it actually costs them more than their quote, they’ll come back to you during construction to say “this cost more than the quoted estimate, and so you’ll be charged for the difference.” Dave does NOT do this. He gets an actual number from each of his sub-contractors and vendors for your project. He factors in his costs, and using his years of experience in building, delivers to you a quote that he will stick to. If you change the scope of work,  of course that isn’t covered in the quote. But Dave is confident in his process, and he will not nickel and dime you into a higher finished cost than his quote.

How do you choose sub-contractors for my job?

Most of Dave’s sub-contractors have been working with him for years. They buy in to the same philosophy and commitment to quality work that Dave does.

What does the job foreman do?

Dave’s job foremen are working foremen. The foreman is responsible for the day-to-day construction process. He supervises the subs and vendors, and makes sure the project is progressing according to plan. He’ll also be swinging a hammer and doing a lot of the work. Every job has a designated foreman who will work with you for the duration of the project.

How involved will Dave be in managing my project?

Dave is involved daily with every job, through the job site foremen. He also makes frequent visits to every job, with an eye toward quality and customer satisfaction. Projects always have twists and turns. Dave will be directly involved with you, to navigate through them. Dave is always accessible to you – you can always contact him with any concerns, and be assured of a prompt response.

How do you know how long my project will take?

This is a minefield for any contractor. But Dave has been doing home renovation for nearly 35 years. His relationships with his sub-contractors and experience in doing this let him give you solid estimates of timing. Every contract includes scheduled milestones and completion dates. It is important to remember that you, the owner, are a part of the process, and the timeliness of your decisions can affect the overall project schedule. And once the “walls are open”, there may be structural or mechanical issues that require extra time to correct.  The moment your project begins, Dave understands that you want the job completed as soon as possible.

What happens when there is a (bad) surprise when you open up the walls?

In renovating old homes, Dave has seen it all, and knows there will be unexpected issues. Any experienced renovation contractor will expect minor  surprises, and Dave factors in time and cost to deal with them. If there are bigger problems, Dave will give you good advice and options on how to deal with them.

How can I tell when something should be included in a project’s bid cost, vs. when it should be “extra”?

The contract will spell out what is included in the price. If something you want done isn’t in the contract, speak up! It is Dave’s intent to give you a bid that covers the whole project. If, during the course of construction, the scope of work changes, such as adding another room to a renovation, the changes are written up in a “change order” which is added to the contract. The change order provides a written estimated cost and timing for the new work, and if accepted, becomes part of the project.

What insurance should my building contractor carry? What insurance does Bortell/Stroud have?

All construction companies must have liability insurance. Workman’s compensation insurance is not a legal requirement for a business owner with no employees, but because of Bortell/Stroud Associates’ size, they carry full workman’s compensation policies for all of their employees. Bortell/Stroud also requires all non-employees, including sub-contractors, to be covered by both liability and workman’s compensation. If a contractor does not carry workman’s compensation insurance, the home owner would be responsible for injuries that occur on his or her property.

What can I expect for a payment schedule?

A specific payment schedule will be included in the contract. As work is completed and milestones achieved, Bortell/Stroud will submit invoices for payment. Bortell/Stroud is unusual in not asking for an up-front payment to start work. If your project includes specialty items requiring a deposit, then those deposits will be requested up-front.

How do I know sub-contractors are being paid?

Before your final payment, Dave can provide you with a release of lien from all sub-contractors, upon your request.  This protects you from any issues with subs.

How do you handle permits?

Bortell/Stroud always pulls the necessary building permits for every job they undertake. Pulling a permit is essential, because when a permit is pulled from your city or town, the Building Inspector checks the builder, his licenses, insurance coverage, and looks for any license suspensions.  This, and the on-site inspections protect you, the home owner.

What does Dave do, when I call attention to an issue that I see during construction?

If you have a concern, then Dave has a concern. He takes your questions and comments very seriously, and respects the knowledge, insight, and strong desires that you bring to the table. Dave’s philosophy is simple: your satisfaction is paramount.


Do you have a question not answered here? Please don’t hesitate to ask! Send us email through the Contact form and we’ll get back to you right away.