06 June 2012

Not-DIY: Nashville area roofers, painters, and handymen

We’re powering on through this house sale, dear readers! I want to finish all the tales from Little House in Nashville before jumping headlong into the New St. Louis Grand Apartment Adventure. So, today I’m filling you in on the dirty details of the Nashville area roofers, house painters, and handymen that we hired for our house sale.

As I’ve told you, we had to get our house on the market as quickly as possible after the hail storm, and we only had about two weeks to complete the inspection repairs before the closing deadline. Because of the time crunch, I decided that I simply could not do all of them myself. Install attic ductwork, or a new window? Sure, I could teach myself how to DIY that... given a month or so, and a wide margin of error. I had about a week. Time to call in the professionals!

And today? I’m naming names. I’m taking a break from my usual unwillingness to reveal identities and letting you know who to call – and who not to hire – if you live in Nashville and are in need of someone to work on your home. And if you don’t live in Nashville? Well, here’s what to watch out for if you, too, have to hang up your DIY badge and pay someone else to do the work.

First up: the roof and gutters and screens, which were installed with Armor Roofing.

Mr. P chose Armor, amid the onslaught of flyers for other companies in our hard-hit neighborhood, because of their excellent reviews (some are here), because they would do the work at the same price as our claims adjustor quoted ($6000 for new roof, gutters, and window screens), and because they would do it ASAP.

It started off great! The roofers came out and got our new roof done in a single day, less than two weeks after we gave our deposit. We knew when the workers were coming (and when they weren’t, because of a one-day rain delay), and they also cleaned up really well!

But it went downhill from there. We never knew when the guys would come out to install the gutters, despite frequent calls to our project manager. Installers randomly showed up one day for the gutters, three weeks later – which was especially frustrating because we were waiting on the gutters so we could paint the trim. As far as I know, the gutters were installed well, but we found screws all over the driveway later, which was annoying.

Then, having our screens repaired took several more weeks, and when the guy finally came out to fix them (doing the work in our driveway, no less), the work was terrible. The screens weren’t taut and fell apart when we tried to re-install them. Basically I could have done as good a job, and I do not know how to repair screens. It’s possible that Armor would have tried to make it right if we had told them, but honestly, it had taken so long to get them fixed already, and our contact never ever returned our calls. So we let those become the buyer’s problem. (Sorry, buyer. Enjoy that home warranty we bought you.)

And finally, our seemingly perfect new roof actually ended up having foot traffic from the roofers, as I told you here. Granted, I can’t prove it was the roofers, but unless we have some tremendously overweight squirrels that wear work boots running around up there, it had to be them (no one else was up there).

Up until this point we’d had terrible communication with our project manager – as in, a complete lack of returned phone calls AND emails. We just wanted him to tell us if and when they’d fix it, for the love of all that is good and holy.

So when I finally called the office to let them know how frustrated and anxious we were: everyone else SPRUNG INTO ACTION. Emails were sent, phone calls were made, the president of the company gave us his cell number, and the damage was repaired. The company made it right, even if the project manager did us wrong.

Still, because of the terrible communication from a guy whose job it is to communicate with us, the damage on a brand-new roof, and the absolutely terrible workmanship on the screens, the whole experience left me feeling sour. Perhaps our experience was exceptional, and I do appreciate that everyone else at the company was wonderful and helpful (thanks, Veronica!). But considering the whole saga, I hesitate to recommend Armor Roofing.

Armor Roofing grade: C-

Next up is the painting company we hired to paint our trim, Sharper Impressions.

As I told you before, our trim was in dire need of a coat of paint ASAP. Fortunately, Dean at Sharper could not have been more responsive. He came out to give me a quote the next day and worked with me on the price ($1590 including power washing and patching on all eaves, front porch roof and pillars, and second-story windows).

The fantastic communication continued throughout the week. Both Dean and the painters let me know when they were coming and would call while on their way or if they were delayed. When the painters spent a morning trying to find a 40-foot ladder and couldn’t find one, they came to the house to tell me in person that they couldn’t finish the job that day but would make it work the following day. Excellent customer service, right there.

And Sharper’s work was great, too. The first day, the two painters were there over ten hours! Recall the before and after:

Cleanup was great, lines were clean. There were quite a few cigarette butts around the house, but overall, a job well done.

Just two problems. First of all, one guy would BANG BANG BANG his ladder against the house, to... test it? Secure it? Be a jerk? I honestly don’t know why he did that, but at one point, he BANG BANG BANGed against an apparently rotted part of the siding and knocked it right off the front of the house. They pointed it out to me, and patched it and painted it, but couldn’t totally replace all of the damaged siding. You could even see the damage in the listing photos:

Okay, just barely, but it was totally obvious in real life. And oh, I was pissed. I mean, I know it was an accident, and if the siding was as rotted as the guy said, it seems like it was almost unavoidable. Almost. Because it totally doesn’t seem necessary to bang the ladder against the house as much as he did.

The second problem wasn’t their fault, but sucked nonetheless: power-washing our 20+ year old windows resulted in a broken vapor seal with one of the front windows, causing it to fog up. Both the fogged window, and the damaged siding, were noted by the buyer’s inspection and consequently had to be fixed. Which meant that painting the trim ultimately resulted in a domino effect of Things to Pay For. Sad face.

Overall, though, Sharper Impressions did a great job, they did it fast, and they told me what they were doing every step of the way. I don’t think we got the best price around, but it seemed fair enough and they worked with me on it. And anyway, we didn’t have the luxury of shopping around (the few other companies I called couldn’t do it in our timeframe). Their speedy work helped us get the house on the market quickly, which helped us sell in four days. So, I’d recommend Sharper Impressions.

Sharper Impressions grade: B+

Because the inspector said we had to repair the aforementioned damaged siding, as well as reroute the master bathroom exhaust, we needed a handyman. Fortunately, we found a handyman in our church bulletin: Joe and Nate Kutsko at Fixin’ to Repair. Thank goodness for ads in the Catholic bulletins, eh?

Joe called me back the same day I phoned him, and he came out to give me a quote the day after I called him: $430 including supplies, labor, and travel to reroute the attic exhaust to the exterior and patch and paint three damaged spots of siding (two other spots were in corners and not caused by the painters’ ladder). He told me exactly when he and his son would be there, which was 9 AM one week later, and that they would come back the next day to prime and paint the siding.

And everything went exactly to plan! Super professional, good work, nice guys. I don’t have a good photo of the damaged siding, but here it is repaired with their epoxy stuff:

Again, because of time constraints, we didn’t shop around for quotes from other handymen (I did call a few the week before, but they didn’t return my call until the following week, if at all). So I don’t know that we got the best price, but it HAD to be done and they did it well and fast. I’d recommend the Kutskos with Fixin’ to Repair in a heartbeat. I’d even hire them again, if I could just put them in my pocket and bring them to St. Louis.

Fixin’ to Repair grade: A

Finally, the fogged window. Joe told me he could have done that himself, but not on our timeline. So, he gave me the name of another fellow parishioner: Bill Rotert with Glass Doctor.

When I called Bill and told him the situation (“HELP ME THIS WEEK PLEEEEASE”), and that Joe had referred me, he got on the case immediately. He reworked the schedule to have someone come and give me a quote first thing the following morning, and he rush-ordered the glass so that it could be installed before our walkthrough deadline. And best of all: I got the fellow-parishioner-discount, which meant our new window was $180 (instead of $205).

It did take a little over a week to get the new window in (Memorial Day weekend was in the middle of it), but the office was very communicative about when the glass order was in, and when they’d come install it. Furthermore, the guy who installed our window (not Bill himself) did a good and fast job, working out in our garage and driveway and completing the install in under two hours. At one point I heard glass shattering so I worried that we’d have broken glass in the driveway to deal with, but when I went out to sweep, I couldn’t find any.

Overall Glass Doctor was incredibly easy to work with, Bill was super friendly and helpful, and the price was right especially with the discount. If you need glass work done, try the Nashville branch of Glass Doctor – I recommend them!

Glass Doctor grade: A

WHEW that was so many words! I do hope that it helps, dear readers, and perhaps anyone else out there in the world wide intertubes who gets here by googling “Nashville handyman HELP HELP NEED WORK DONE FAST CLOSING DEADLINE APPROACHING AHHHHH”. What, that’s not what you’d google? Huh. Maybe I was doing it wrong all along.