Frequently Asked Questions
What makes you so special?
We’re not just designers, and we’re not just builders. More than that: We identify as members of a larger community of artisans. We’re culture junkies. We think of ourselves as “makers.” We bring this perspective to everything we do. Really, there’s no substitute for it. What’s more, we’re extremely well organized and systematic, and we don’t like surprises.
Do you have references?
We provide references upon request. In the meantime, please see the customer quotes that appear on individual project pages.
How long have you been in business?
Myers Constructs, Inc. was incorporated in 1997. Before that, the company’s founders Tamara Myers and Diane Menke worked as sole proprietors in the carpentry and faux finishing trades respectively. Both Tamara and Diane have Bachelor of Fine Arts educational backgrounds.
Can you meet with me about my project in the evening or on the weekend?
Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Regrettably, we are unable to meet with customers during the evening or on weekends.
Can you give me a free estimate?
Our designer’s initial site visit meeting and walkthrough with you is free.
What should I have with me when I meet with you?
You should be able to tell us your must-have and your would-like-to-have items. You should be able to give us an idea of your budget.
How do I develop a budget for my project?
Know how much you want to spend, and have a sense of what you would be comfortable spending, should things cost more than you expect. And don’t be surprised if they do. Typically with Philadelphia area housing stock, funds will be needed not merely for finishes and shiny new appliances; the hidden systems like framing, plumbing and electricity will need to be brought up to code too.
If you plan to finance your project, figure out the answers to these questions: What did you pay for your house and when did you buy it? What is your house worth today? What are the comparable houses in your area worth today? Do they have the same features as your house? (A realtor can help you answer these questions.) Finally, speak with a banker and a mortgage broker to understand whether your home’s increased value might be a financing source before or after remodeling. For example, you might first use your home’s increased market value since its purchase to secure a credit line, to pay for the project. Afterward, you might refinance based on the value increase due to the project, and use the refinancing proceeds to pay off the credit line.
I’m looking for the cheapest general contractor I can find. Is that you?
No. You see, we have things that the cheapest guy you can find doesn’t. We have business systems we’ve spent years developing, designed to make it possible for us to do our best work, efficiently. We have an informative website. We are licensed, and we carry workers compensation insurance, commercial general liability insurance, and company vehicle insurance. There’s value to you in all that: it means we’re more organized and responsive, and we’re committed to running a real business with the staying power to finish your project.
The point is, we’re not the cheapest, because we offer value that the cheapest doesn’t.
Will you participate in competitive bidding for my project? How do I know your price is fair if I don’t bid the project out?
As we heard a builder warn recently, “A bid is just a bid.” In other words, it’s not focused enough to be reliable: it contains too many assumptions. Bidding encourages low-balling, which makes for adversarial projects and lots of change orders. Instead of putting a project out to bid, we encourage you to find a design-build company that you trust. Interview a few. Most will give you rough estimates. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples with the estimates. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with, and have them price the project for you.
We have customers who come back to us again and again. We think that shows that our prices must be fair for the value we deliver. Read our VP’s recollection of the last time we bid a project here; she gives more detail on why we no longer do it.
What’s the difference between working with you and working with an architect?
We think that the difference basically comes down to time. Your time.
As a design-to-build general contractor, we believe that working with us from the beginning is simply a faster (not to mention less expensive) way to get a project designed and built than is working with an architect. An architect may take a year to complete and permit a design. Then, with the inevitable rounds of bidding, there will be additional delays in finding a contractor. Once a general contractor is selected, many more months are required to build the project.
In contrast, with a cooperative customer who makes timely decisions, we typically complete a design within a few months and move directly from design to construction. For the majority of our larger projects (for instance, a kitchen, dining room and powder room), the construction timeline is on the order of 12 to 15 weeks.
Can I hold back funds from my payments to you as “retainage”?
Because we work from your deposits, we use a no-retainage contract. Payment is due in full when invoices are presented.
Can I continue to live in my house while you work?
It depends on the scope of the project. Keep in mind that in addition to the rooms that are the subject of the project, we’ll need staging, cutting and storage areas. So, for example, it would not only be the kitchen that would be unusable, but also the adjacent dining room and the garage.
Do you warranty your work?
Yes. We provide a one-year limited warranty, beginning at the “substantial functionality” milestone.
What’s that? Well, a job reaches the substantially functionality milestone (i.e., is substantially functional) when the earliest of the following events occurs: (1) the structures constructed and products installed by us are available for their intended use; (2) you begin using them; or (3) all job punch list items are completed. The project reaches the substantially functionality milestone when all the jobs that comprise it are substantially functional.
We rarely see serious problems during the warranty period, but a construction project is complex, so it’s not unusual for some things to need a little adjustment during the first few months after a project is finished. A fixture needs tightening. A handle comes loose. Things like that. We take care of them.
OK, how can I be your best customer ever?
- Well, you should be happy to pay for the design and planning work. This is really where your project gets set up to be on time and on your budget. If this process were free, all that would be just fiction.
- Share your budget goals along with your wish list, must have list, would like to have list. Don’t play hide the ball with us. In the same way you tell your realtor what price range your are looking in for your home purchase, you need to tell your contractor what you want to spend.
- Do your homework. Know your budget. Know your sacred cows. Make sure you and your partner are ready to make decisions. We will send you out to play with appliances, to look at materials, to make decisions. Doing your homework means you will get the project you want.
- Listen and speak clearly during design meetings. This is how we create the project you want.
- Be decisive. This is how we create the project you want.
- Stretch your imagination and have fun. Try out ideas you may not at first think you will like. You may surprise yourself by discovering new likes. The design phase is all about you.
- Once the design and budget are hammered out, sign the construction contract. This is when we schedule your project. This is how we create the project you want.
- Once the project is scheduled, relax. Your project has already and for the most part been built on paper. We will ask questions if we need to. Most questions have already been answered during the design phase. Many of our customers go on vacation at this point, or take a nap.
- Once scheduled we will stay on your project until it’s done. This is how we make a living: by finishing a project as professionally and efficiently as possible. This stage is all about delivering what’s on paper. There is not very much for you to do during this phase, because our design team and our build team are so good.
- Be sure to pay according to the payment schedule. This is how we make a living and a profit for our company. This is how we can afford to provide warranty coverage if needed. Interruption of the payment stream means we need to move to another project.
- Finally, you should enjoy your remodeled home. Call us with any problems that come up. We warranty our work for 12 months, plenty of time for any minor issues that might arise to be resolved. We are not disappearing from your life.
- Please tell your friends about how great we are!