Charles Clements of BLOC Construction attended one of our recent Austin Home Remodeling Meetup events, and our attendees were riveted by his comments. He gave us a unique view of home remodeling from a contractor’s perspective. We all learned a great deal from talking with him, and everyone at that Meetup came away with some valuable insight.
We talked a little more with Charles about his company, and how they approach the home remodeling process. Charles did not disappoint us, and gave even more beneficial advice for homeowners going through the remodeling process.
Q: How long has your company been in business?
A: Our core team has over 105 years of combined construction industry experience. Since 2014, we have operated as a unified team under the BLOC brand.
Q: What trade(s) do you specialize in?
A: We specialize in both Commercial and Residential Projects
Q: How do you differ from other contractors?
A: We refer to our core contracting model as “Transparent-Cost-Plus (TC+).” Our clients see
every dollar that is spent on their projects. We hide nothing. And there are no funny backdoor
deals going on with our projects.
We truly represent our clients’ interests and keep them informed every step of the way with
progress reports and straightforward communication. Our clients pay us and trust us to get
their jobs done and to handle issues as they arise.
Unlike many contractors, our approach is client/customer centered. We understand that
without our clients we don’t have a business. Our team’s approach to client/customer service
is similar to that of retailers like Publix and Trader Joe’s. In the retail industry, and especially
with those companies, accessibility, functionality, and emotional impact are great drivers
when it comes to the overall customer/client experience. We believe this should hold true for
the construction industry and our clients as well.
Your construction team should be accessible to answer questions and address concerns.
Construction projects should be positively exciting, run smoothly for the client, and be
emotionally rewarding for families and owners. Unfortunately, far too often construction
projects end up being a battle of “who’s on top” for clients, contractors, subcontractors,
suppliers, and attorneys.
Q: What should people look for from their contractors?
A: Ethics, Trustworthiness, Honesty, Integrity, Credibility & Sincerity
Before choosing a contractor we recommend that you take the time to really know what kind
of contractor and team you are hiring. Make sure your personalities mesh with the contractor,
project manager, and project supervisor. Be sure the contractor’s team is professional,
trained, and screened. Only do business with contractors who do at minimum a basic
background check on individuals they will have working in your home or business.
In today’s busy construction market, be cautious of contractors who have crews available to
immediately start your project. Sometimes there is a serious reason why a contractor has
crews that aren’t working.
By all means don’t hire someone just because they are the lowest bidder. Being the low
bidder could indicate several factors such as:
The contractor intends to hit you with change orders once he/she gets started. He plans to make his profit in the change orders once he/she gets his/her foot-in-the-door.
The contractor is simply working for cash flow. The contractor is bidding work cheap because he/she has to get payments from you and other new clients to pay to finish other ongoing projects.
The contractor is not running a legitimate business – hiring undocumented workers, cutting corners with supplies, uninsured, not paying his taxes, not adhering to codes, and using unlicensed or unqualified subcontractors.
Q: How should homeowners pick a contractor?
A: Do your homework! Research who you are inviting into your home or business. Don’t simply
rely on a well-scrubbed list of referrals that the contractor gives you. In some cases, a referral
list is nothing more than a list of friends, relatives, and employees that have been asked to
provide a good recommendation when you call.
Research subcontractors and suppliers. A contractor that has a bad reputation with
subcontractors and suppliers will likely NOT have the best subcontractors and materials
available for your project.
Research online for complaints. But, understand that not everyone will be a satisfied
customer. Look for patterns and consistencies in complaints.
Research court filings and lien filings. But, don’t just research the company. Search online
sites like LinkedIn and CorporationWiki to see if the owner of the company has in the past or
is currently operating under a different name.
Q: Can you describe how you put together your prices for construction and renovation projects?
A: Our team keeps track of current trends and market demands. We self-perform some aspects
of each of our projects. When we source sub-trade and material pricing we utilize
prescreened qualified subcontractors and suppliers.
Generally, we will put together a complete projected cost analysis based on the client’s
request. In addition, we will normally come back with value engineering (VE)
recommendations. This approach allows the client to have options that may reduce costs
and/or result in a better project.
Q: Can you share some of the biggest difficulties most contractors have?
A: Some of the biggest difficulties we see stem simply from miscommunication—with clients,
with architects, and with subcontractors and suppliers.
EVERY project will have bumps and hurdles. Getting and keeping everyone on the SAME
PAGE is very challenging. Contractors who do this well have projects that run very smoothly
and end with greater success stories for all.
Q: What’s the one thing that you’d most want people to take away from this interview regarding
effective communication with their contractors?
A: Know who you are dealing with. Follow your gut instincts about whether your contractor is
truly going to look after your best interest. Know that this person and his/her team will likely be
a part of your daily life for many months. And, most importantly remember you are the client—
the contractor is working for you.
Thank you, Charles for this incredibly valuable perspective!
For more tips and insights on construction visit Construction Conductor at: