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"Education before any Sale!" - Maurizio Bertoli of MB Stone Restoration Maurizio Bertoli (aka MB) is the reason the founders of SURFACE BUFF came into this industry. His passion for quality, his amazing raw talent, his attention to detail, his ability to educate both contractors and consumers impacted so many and continues to do so after his premature passing, through those who had the great pleasure of studying and apprenticing under him. MB will be greatly missed, but his passion and mission will go on forever.
NOTE: In many cases, a sudden and accidental situation in a home or building that requires restoration may be covered by insurance. Don't allow the hype and lies that are made to make people afraid of filing a claim through their property insurance. It is not the same as car insurance. If you think you need to file an insurance claim, look into hiring a licensed and bonded Public Insurance Adjuster. If you need help finding one, give us a call and we can give you information. A Public Insurance Adjuster works for you, whereas the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company. And you should never have to come up with any money of your own for a good Public Insurance Adjuster. A good quality Public Insurance Adjuster should work for you on a contingency agreement.
SURFACE BUFF is dedicated to help educate the consumer and to help get you the project you paid for...that you deserve.
Consumers are finding themselves more and more into a situation where they pay a lot of money and try to pick out the best contractor only to now have a mess on their hands. This is a frustrating experience and can really be exhausting. If you don't know where to go to get help, you may even feel helpless.
So how can we help you?
Legally - No, we are not lawyers. We cannot offer any legal advice, nor would you want it as we only specialize in surfaces, not law. The contents of this website are based on our professional opinion and experience and is not to be taken as legal advice of any type. You would want to find a lawyer who specializes in the case law that your issue calls for. However, depending on your situation, it wouldn't be a bad idea to check out your area's bar association to find a lawyer. Other avenues to file a complaint would be with your State's Attorney Office and sometimes a News on Your Side can help get your contractor on the ball.
Consultations - We offer consultations with a written report of our findings of the surface in question. Our fee is $150.00 per hour, plus travel costs if applicable. Estimates only provide options to correct an issue and how much it will approximately cost to complete such repairs. Our consultations will arm you with the industry regulations and explanations of how a surface should be or not be installed or maintained. We are not certified home inspectors, nor are we engineers. We are the masters in solid surfaces and have found the great need for the consumers to have our experts consult on a project gone wrong.
Expert witness testimony services - We have been retained by several law offices with regards to hard surfaces in both installation and maintenance areas. This service is available with our Consultation services listed above and is included in the Consultation hourly rate.
Designs / Pre-Purchase Consultations - Our designers help you custom design and select the ideal products for your project that will give you the aesthetics and longevity you desire and unlike other designers, we can tell you what to expect for maintenance and how to maintain each surface we design for you. So before you buy that beautiful black granite counter, it would be best to have our designers on your side you warn you of poorly doctored stone. Our design fee varies either by the hour or by the project (whichever may be less expensive for you.) But the time for an estimate to discuss it all and make an agreement is always free.
How to protect yourself before a situation turns bad
Based on the hundreds of calls we get from clients who are on the brink of screaming with frustration from the result of a bad contractor situation, we have put together a little guide with hopes that you may be able to help avoid common things many consumers tend to overlook.
Step 1) Search for a Qualified Contractor, not the cheapest.
(A Jack of all Trades is a Master of Nothing!)
Search around, ask around for who would be the best contractor for your project. Call your friends and family to see if they know any reputable contractors they have worked with before. The internet holds a mass of resources when trying to find a contractor. But how will you know which one is the right match for you?
The internet is flooded with contractors of all sorts. You want to select a contractor who specializes in your particular need. For instance, if you are going to build an addition to your home, a licensed General Contractor is a must, however, they don't specialize in much - hence the word General and these are typically people who are paid to manage projects that are $30,000 or higher. They typically use the cheapest subs to perform different tasks. You want to be able to either select the subs yourself or at least, meet these subs in person and qualify them yourself. This will help eliminate major issues that will arise if a paint guy ends up installing your new tiled floor who has maybe some experience, but really doesn't focus on tile floors day in and day out.
Search through industry specific memberships and associations to look for a quality contractor who may be listed in their members list. (Just because they are listed in one of these, does not necessarily mean that they are or are not of high quality. Most companies pay to be listed as members and there is no true value to the consumer if the contractor pays just to use their certified logo, but it is an avenue to know at least they go the extra step instead of just placing free ads on Social Media Websites.)
TIP - Look into the qualifications of the Associations or Memberships to see what it takes to be listed as a contractor. Many membership or certification companies only exist in order to get monthly dues from members. This is NOT important to consumers.
Keep a record of each contractor and how you found them specifically. (Example: Google Search took you to their web site, or to an ad in Oodle, etc.) Print out the ads or keep copies if at all possible. Remember, when calling into a location, you may or may not get a contractor directly. They may have receptionists answering their phones for them while they focus on business. It is best to write a list of questions and concerns about your project so that they may be addressed in person at the time of your estimate or consultation.
Step 2) Get an Estimate
(Any promises made verbally are as valuable as the paper they are written on)
Get an estimate in writing. Understand that in many cases, a contractor cannot account for what they cannot see, and an estimate is just that. An approximate cost to complete a project based on what they can see during the time of the initial estimate. However, if the contractor does this day in and day out, their estimate should not be very different from the total cost of the final project price, unless unknown damages are uncovered at the time of the project being worked on.
Make sure you understand what types of payment are accepted at this time.
Make sure it is written when the contractor will expect deposits and if they are refundable at this time.
Take notes while the contractor is there to examine your project. Pay attention to how they are examining the area. Are they paying attention to details, or do they just seem more interested in making a sale?
Make sure to ask the contractor all the questions you may have at this time.
TIP: Have a list of questions written down prior to the contractor's arrival.
Suggested Questions to ask a potential contractor/sub-contractor
Step 3) Documents and Contracts
(Go ahead and imagine what items you will need to present a situation to a judge. Not that you will have to, but at least you will have everything ready...just in case.)
If you are a plaintiff...you will carry the burden of proof! Don't put yourself in a position where you end up saying you wish you had done such and such before this all happened.) Prior to any agreement, did you get the SDS aka MDSD sheets? See a safety manual? Get a copy of the insurance and workmen's compensation? Did you validate all the items to ensure everything is valid and accurate? If your contractor doesn't have a contract, make sure to get a good contract. You want this contract to include the contractor's responsibilities, the customer's (you) responsibilities, identify the project area, identify the project steps as best as possible, record who is responsible for supplying materials and tools, how much the project will cost and the payment terms, (make sure to have it clear that any changes or additions must be included on an addendum signed by both parties), and make sure they list their insurance coverage on the contract.
TIP: Have a lawyer look over all documents before signing and agreeing. Sometimes things aren't always what they seem to be, and a lawyer generally can catch something if it exists.
If you have concerns about how a project or an employee, contractor or subcontractor is performing, write a letter to the person in charge of the project, detailing your concerns, keep a copy for yourself and make sure to keep a good document trail. If the other party responds verbally (hopefully quickly), write another letter or email thanking them for their response, reiterate the details of that conversation and ask them if you are understanding that conversation correctly.
Step 4) Inspect a finished project
Step 5) Maintenance
Proper maintenance is the key to keeping any surface, project, machine, etc. beautiful and lasting you longer. Be sure you know what products to use to maintain your project. How often? Who to call if you have any future questions or concerns about maintenance? Get a document (if it isn't already on the Warranty/Guarantee document) that will lead you to the path of a long lasting beautiful, finished project.
Step 6) Leave Feedback
In today's World, word of mouth is everything. Positive or Negative, Feedback is crucial and there are several places where and how you can leave Feedback. This will help other consumers in the future. By doing so, you can do your share to help increase the level of quality and expectations of contractor workmanship and materials just by leaving feedback in as many places you can find.
(TIP: Be careful with leaving negative feedback that you do not cause harm to any potential legal case you may have or that you might be held liable for any defamation. You may want to consult with your attorney about negative feedback text before submitting negative comments to public access.)
Sadly, there are a lot of details, steps and sometimes extra costs to ensure a contractor, materials used, and the overall project is going to be up to par. It is a lot less effort, time, energy and money to take care of all these details before a problem is created. Think about it. If you decide not to take all the precautions and a problem exists, not only will the project possibly need to be redone which will take more time and aggravation, but there could also be costs for taking it out, disposal fees and then the cost to buy more products and supplies and labor to put it in correctly. You could end up paying multiple times more than you did when you originally had the project first completed...or even more if legal action has to be taken.