Frequently Asked Questions

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Orlando Homeowner’s
Frequently Asked Questions


Our owners have more than 55 Years of
experience building and remodeling homes in Central Florida


If You’re Planning to Renovating Your Orlando Home …
And You Want to Protect Your Investment …
Ask Plenty of Questions Before You Hire


Frequently Asked Questions

The questions on this page are the ones that we have been asked most often by our clients and prospective clients.

The smartest strategy is to ask each contractor that you seriously considering hiring to provide all of their answers in writing. This will help you eliminate contractors that are reluctant to commit to their promises.

If they are talking about it or showing you what they plan on doing, the chances that they will do what they are saying is very slim. Avoiding those contractors is a smart move.

We will be happy to provide you with a complete copy of our consumer guide and step-by-step installation processes once we schedule our first meeting so you will have our answers in writing. We know this sets a standard that we can be proud of and that the majority of our competitors can’t match. Upon request we will gladly provide you with our written proof of compliance with each question.

Whether your dream is to build a new home, complete a much needed bathroom or kitchen makeover, add a master bedroom suite, complete a multi-room renovation project, we have the experience to complete your project on time and on budget.

We understand that success is not an accident. It is based on adherence to quality standards every day.

You can reach us via phone or email from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on normal business days.

We return all morning calls and emails by 1 p.m. and all afternoon calls and emails by 6 p.m.

We service the Greater Orlando Metro Area including: Orlando, Windermere, Winter Garden, Winter Park, Heathrow, Lake Mary, Longwood, Ocoee, Winter Springs, Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Casselberry, Sanford, Clermont, Belle Isle, Edgewood, Oviedo, Davenport and surrounding communities.


Reputation and Stability of the Company

 


Are You Properly Licensed by the State of Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation?

Yes. Our license number is #CBC 1255277.

Florida law requires that every contractor be properly licensed in this state before contracting to build or remodel a home.

A contractor who is “certified” is licensed by the state and may operate in any city or county in this state; a contractor who is “registered” is licensed by a particular city or county and may operate only in the city or county of registration. However, all licensed contractors are regulated by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”), which can be contacted at: 1940 N. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL, 32399-1027; telephone: 850-487-1395; website: myfloridalicense.com.

When someone contracts without a license, they endanger the health, safety and welfare of the public, undercut licensed contractors who operate legitimately and lawfully, and hurt the entire construction industry. Hiring an unlicensed contractor will leave the homeowner with no recourse through the State of Florida Construction Industry Recovery Fund.

An unlicensed contractor cheats the government out of taxes and increases the tax burden for all Florida residents and businesses.

Before you consider hiring someone that is not licensed ask yourself this question: “If they will cheat the government, I wonder if they will cheat me?” The answer should be obvious.

In order to check on a contractor’s current “active” status before you sign a contract, obtain the contractor’s individual license number, which every licensed contractor is required to have, as well as any company’s “qualified business” (“QB”) number, and check it on DBPR’s website at: myfloridalicense.com; click on “Search for a License” under the “Public Services” section.

Licensed contractors are only authorized to construct the types of improvements included within the “scope” of their license. For example, if your home will be more than two habitable floors, make sure the contractor has a “general” or “building” contractor license.

Accordingly, you can also contact Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation to ensure that the contractor you are selecting has the proper type of license for the construction of your home.

This initiative by the State of Florida is a significant step in weeding out sub-standard contractors who provide inferior service and expose customers to unnecessary risks.

Whether your dream is to build a new home, complete a much needed bathroom or kitchen makeover, add a master bedroom suite, complete a multi-room renovation project we have the experience and the proper license to complete your project on time and on budget.


Have you or any of your partners declared bankruptcy for any business you owned?

It may surprise you to learn that in a 2011 survey more than 35 percent of the home remodeling, home improvement and design build companies that advertise in directories were out of business within five years.

Some less than scrupulous contractors have closed up one business after running into quality or credit problems. Once the dust settled they reopened their business under a similar name.

You can protect yourself by following this simple recommendation.

Request the following information from any company you seriously consider hiring.

  •      • Please provide the name of each company, partnership, LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship or other business entity, which is or has been a home renovation, home remodeling, home improvement contractor, design build contractor or a new home construction contractor, in which any of the owners are or have been an owner during the past five years.

ACS will supply you with all required information at our first meeting.


I have been offered a “ball park” estimate over the phone or via email for most other contractors, can you do this?

We don’t do this because the chances of getting it right are virtually zero. Kind of like throwing darts, you might hit the bulls-eye but more than likely you will miss and most times by a lot.

We understand that you want to get an idea of the cost for your project. There are dozens and dozens of choices even in a small-bathroom project that can impact the cost — countertop, vanity, lights, tile and more. Trying to come up with an estimate without knowing all the details is certain to result in an estimate that won’t be very close to the real number.

This is the biggest area of customer complaints. Design-build companies will often present totally unrealistic bids just to get the project and then add costs at a later date to recoup their profits. They know that once a project is started — it will cost a fortune to fire the contractor. In effect, they can hold the homeowner hostage and find lots of ways to jack up the price.

We don’t work that way.

In order to get a complete understanding of your needs and desires, we meet with you in person and ask very specific questions. We will then create a design for your approval.

ACS will prepare a fixed-price proposal as soon as your design work is completed and approved by you.

  •      • Each bid will provide a detailed breakdown of the materials to be used, the specific line item detail for all tasks associated with the project and a fixed price for the total project.
  •      • We do prepare very thorough designs but many times our clients will request a change order to add something to the original bid. We will include the process for change orders and all of them must be in writing and approved by you. Unless you approve our written change orders, our price is final.

At ACS we spend extra time up front detailing every aspect of your bid and anticipating potential issues based on our more than 55 years of combined experience.

Do yourself a favor and cross any contractor that will give you a “ball park” estimate off of your list.


Does anyone ever give a poor reference?

If you only ask for three references then the answer is most likely no.

Even small-home remodeling or home-renovating companies complete 25 projects every couple of years so they should be able to find at least three people to vouch for them.

A better strategy is to ask for at least 10 references and at least three for similar projects.

Contractors who only provide three or four references may not deliver consistent service.

  •      • You can use the information on our References Page to know how to easily check the reputation and service record of any company you are seriously considering.
  •      • Whether your dream is to build a new home, complete a much needed bathroom or kitchen makeover, add a master bedroom suite, complete a multi-room renovation project you should thoroughly check out the references of each contractor.

ACS is proud to provide at least 25 local references that you can contact about the quality of our work.


Do you provide business references too?

Yes. Lots of folks that got laid off due to the economy in Central Florida are now remodeling or home improvement “experts.” A number of commercial companies are also offering residential remodeling services to make ends meet.

These companies don’t have the experience to complete a quality job for you. Wayne, Wes and Russ have more than 55 years of experience building and remodeling homes in Central Florida.

They worked together for more than 15 years at Lennar Homes before starting our company. While they were at Lennar Homes they were the recipients of many awards including the quality award for construction for three consecutive years.

And here is what they learned:

  •      • If you do an online search you will find many stories about trusting homeowners that gave a home remodeling contractor a large deposit and then the contractor went out of business or simply disappeared.
  •      • Design-build or home-remodeling contractors should have longstanding relationships with their local bank and local suppliers. They should have solid relationships in all cases. Contractors with solid relationships with their bank and local suppliers get preferential treatment and pricing which helps them stay competitive.
  •      • Companies that are slow to pay their vendors may be using your deposit and funds to pay off other projects and this can lead to unexplained delays in your project.

ACS will provide you with our bank and vendor references at our first meeting.


Doesn’t “fully insured” mean that they have plenty of insurance?

Absolutely not.

It may surprise you to learn that some home-remodeling contractors don’t even have the insurance they claim they have.

When times get a bit tight this is another area where some contractors will cut corners and “take a chance that nothing goes wrong”.

There are two ways you can protect yourself.

  •      1. Ask to be listed as the certificate holder on a Certificate of Insurance.
  •      2. Require that the Certificate of Insurance be sent directly to you by the contractor’s insurance agent so you get assurance that their coverage is current.

In addition, every home-improvement contractor is required to maintain statutory Worker’s Compensation insurance for all employees and it is a good idea for them to carry at least $1,000,000 of Liability insurance per incident.

Note: If the contractor utilizes sub-contractors — they also must meet the same insurance requirements to ensure you are protected. Sub-contractors are not covered by Workers Compensation insurance. Each company must carry their own Workers Compensation insurance.

Our insurance agent will provide you with our documentation so you can feel comfortable that we have current insurance in place. We also have a process in place to ensure that all of our sub-contractors have insurance.


Can you explain the difference between Design-Build and Home Remodeling?

A design build contractor first designs your project and then builds it.

  •      • ACS creates designs using computer-aided drafting (3D-CAD) drawings for most projects.
  •      • The advantage of design build is that we know all the details that went into your design. This eliminates mistakes that are often caused by “back of the envelope” or hand drawn designs many of our competitors use.
  •      • We utilize a scheduling system for all major projects. It allows us to quickly see if we are on or off track and it also makes it easy for you to see how the job is going. This is especially true when you want to compare certain phases of a project like tear out and framing that tend to go very fast and seem like a lot has been accomplished with the finish phases like crown molding that can take just as much time because of the detail required.
  •      • ACS also has one very unique advantage. We provide the services of a professional interior designer to help you choose colors, materials, fabrics and furnishings.
  •      • If you want to build a new home, do an addition for extra space, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your home by renovating your kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, breakfast room, lanai or pool area, we can help make your dream a reality.

Experience, Service, Installation Processes, Operations, Warranty, Follow- Up and Follow-Through


Can you explain how your pricing works?

At ACS we spend extra time in the beginning carefully detailing all parts of your project and anticipating potential issues. Wayne, Wes and Russ have over 55 years of experience to draw upon and they know from experience what works and what won’t work.

  •      • ACS creates designs using computer aided drafting (3D-CAD) drawings for most projects. We first create your design. Next you will approve the design and then make all of your material selections. At that point we will have all the necessary information to provide a fixed price agreement for the work specified along with a detailed breakdown of the project.
  •      • We include all plans, permits and materials in our agreements.
  •      • We have created written installation processes that make it easy for you to make an apples-to-apple comparison of what we are offering with what our competition is offering.

All of these steps make it easy for you to understand our price guaranty.

This is in a lot different that the way many of our competitors create proposals.

  •      • Many of our competitors are reluctant to give you the kind of details we provide. In a construction project there are many ways where corners can be cut or inferior materials substituted to make more profit. Low bidders are really good at knowing where they can do this.
  •      • Unfortunately, the homeowner ends up with a lower-quality job that will probably last until the warranty runs out and then the project will begin to fall apart.
  •      • Another tactic that many design-build and home-remodeling contractors use is to leave out required costs or provide unrealistic allowances to make their contracts “appear” to have a better price. These contractors know that they will have the homeowner “over a barrel” once the project is started and the demolition is done. At that point it can cost a fortune to fire a contractor because on one wants to take over someone else’s mess.
  •      • This type of tactic can mean the homeowner ends up paying a lot more than they thought for their project — 20% percent or more.

If a contractor provides a quote that is 15 percent or more below the next lowest bid, it won’t be the same job. A typical design-build or home-remodeling project doesn’t have that much profit in it if the company is operating ethically and legally. No one works for free. If you accept that bid, you will either end up with quality issues or paying more than the original quote.


How much experience does my supervisor have?

This is a great question. This is especially important if you are considering a larger company to install your project. You want an experienced crew, not one that is learning at your expense.

  •      • We recommend that you ask specific questions about the experience of your supervisor.
  •      • Ask them to describe similar projects that they have worked on and what challenges they had to overcome. You might even ask them what they like about renovating and remodeling to make sure they enjoy their work. People that are unhappy with their job rarely put in a 100 percent effort.

Our superintendents have an average of 18 years of experience — that’s much longer than many contractors have been in business.

They are active in supervising each project so you will be getting the benefit of all of their experience on your project too.


What do you do to maintain a high level of quality on your projects?

There are a number of steps we take to ensure the quality of every project.

We spend extra time in the beginning carefully detailing all parts of your project and anticipating potential issues. Since we design your project, we know all of the details and steps to be performed.

Wes, Wayne and Russ make frequent unannounced quality control inspections of our projects and this allows them to:

  •      • Ensure that our quality standards are consistently maintained.
  •      • Answer questions because every project will have unanticipated challenges.
  •      • Provide continual training for our crews.

We use a formal-scheduling system, a pre-construction checklist and complete walkthroughs at key points in each project to ensure they are proceeding according to plan.


What steps do you take to keep your projects on time?

  •      • We utilize our formal-scheduling system for all major projects. It allows us to quickly see if we are on or off track and it also makes it easy for you to see how the job is going.
  •      • This is especially important if you want to compare certain phases of a project like demolition and framing that tend to go very fast and seem like a lot has been accomplished with the finish phases like crown molding that can take just as much time because of the detail required.
  •      • We spend extra time in the beginning carefully detailing all parts of your project and anticipating potential issues.
  •      • Our pre-construction checklist, formal scheduling system and weekly intensive project updates are all essential parts of keeping your project on time.
  •      • We meet with you every week to review the progress of your project in detail. For shorter projects we will provide you with an update every two days.
  •      • We also provide our clients with multiple ways to contact us via the phone, email, text and fax. We understand that when you know what is going on you feel more comfortable. This is a lot different than what we hear about our competitors who always seems to be offering an apology because they didn’t get back to you. From many of them you can be waiting for days to get a return call on a minor issue.
  •      • We can send you images to keep you updated if you are traveling.
  •      • We perform complete walkthroughs at key points in your project to ensure what is in the plan is in your project.

There are so many more things that we do to keep your project moving toward completion and we will be pleased to share them at our first meeting.


How often will you meet to review my project?

We understand that everyone wants to be kept up to date on their project. It can be frustrating to be left in the dark so we have set up systems to keep you informed.

  •      • We meet with you every week to review the progress of your project in detail. For shorter projects we will provide you with an update every two days.
  •      • You can reach us via phone or email from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on normal business days. If we happen to miss your call or email, we return all morning calls and emails by 1 p.m. and all afternoon calls and emails by 6 p.m.
  •      • We welcome your questions for our superintendents when you are around during construction.
  •      • We provide an onsite folder to make it easy for both of us to ask questions or share information.
  •      • We perform complete walkthroughs at key points in your project to ensure what is in the plan is in your project. We will invite you to accompany us on our walkthrough at the framing stage and again at the final walkthrough.

Will you be working on my project every day?

Yes, with a few exceptions. On any longer project there will be some days when we won’t be able to work. Waiting for inspections and weather delays are the most common.

We want to finish your project because that is the only way we get paid.

Even if we aren’t on your jog we are always working on your project in some way. We coordinate deliveries, setup city inspections; coordinate our specialty trades and much more.

Because of our commitment to communication, you will be kept informed so you won’t be left wondering what is going on.


How do I know you will really finish the “punch list”?

You may have heard some horror stories about home builders that never finished the punch list.

While we worked together previously, we were the recipients of multiple awards for design and construction. One of the reasons we won the awards is because we finished what we started.

We brought that same attitude and discipline to ACS.

All of the steps we take help to minimize the final punch list and this makes it a lot easier to finish.

  •      • Our pre-construction checklist, formal scheduling system frequent unannounced quality inspections and multiple walk-throughs make it easy to stay in control. All of these steps make it easy to spot things that need to be corrected so they can be fixed long before the final walk-through.
  •      • We invite questions during the project. If you desire a change to the original plan, it is much easier to complete it before it is started then after it is in place.
  •      • All of our internal systems ensure that our end of the project punch list is minimal and we invite you to ask any of our references about this.

Do you have code of conduct for your crews? How do you enforce it?

Yes and all of our policies are in writing.

  •      • We have a written policy that prohibits smoking in your home and drug and alcohol use on the job.
  •      • We also have trained our crews to act like guests in your home and to respect your personal space and belongings. Again we encourage you to ask our references about this.

Can you explain your warranties?

We provide a 1-year warranty for the labor and installation on all design build and home remodeling projects.

We provide a 10-year warranty on structural items that we have installed including foundations, girders, structural framing and weight bearing load points.


Do I need to be at home whenever you are working?

No. Many of our clients provide the security code for their home and we appreciate this vote of trust.

You can use our communication folder to ask questions or to provide answers to our questions when you are not available during our work hours.


How long will my project take?

We provide realistic completion dates. This is an area where we believe our systems are far better than our competitors.

  •      • Most contractors will simply say, “It should be a 2-month project.”
  •      • If the contractor doesn’t back this up with a specific schedule of events then it is only their guess.
  •      • This is one of the most common complaints — unrealistic time frames.
  •      • Our pre-construction checklist, formal scheduling system and multiple walkthroughs are all essential parts of keeping your project on time.

We suggest that you avoid contractors who will promise you the world in terms of a quick start date or a really quick completion date. Without thorough planning and ongoing monitoring, a project will get off track and that can also lead to cost overruns that you will likely be stuck with.


Do you need access to our bathrooms?

We will typically provide portable toilets for employees and subcontractors. If this is a smaller job we ask for access to a bathroom as a courtesy. We will respect your privacy and your property in using the bathroom.


Do you have a process for daily clean up?

We use a written daily clean up checklist to ensure your home is clean and secure at the end of each workday.

We might ask for access to a sink or side yard area with a hose so we can use for cleanup, but will make other arrangements if that isn’t possible.


Do you work with Home Owners’ Associations?

Yes. We will provide the appropriate information to your HOA.


If Your Home was Built Before 1978

Here Is Important Information



Does the EPA law on lead paint affect me and my project?

Yes, if your home was built prior to 1978.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a new law that became effective on April 22, 2010. The law is designed to protect homeowners, their families and contractors that work on their home from the risks of lead hazards.

The use of lead-based paint was discontinued after 1977, but if your home was built before 1978 it is very likely that it contains lead-based paint.

Design build and home remodeling projects like kitchen and bath renovations and additions will have sanding, cutting and demolition of existing parts of your home. Any of these construction activities can disturb lead-based paints and cause a health hazard for your family.

Lead-based paint is nasty and can cause serious health problems.

ACS is certified under the new law.

Unfortunately, some contractors in the Orlando area are still not certified. The best advice we can give you is to cross them off of your list. If you do hire them you could be exposing your family and your children to lead poisoning.

Take the simple step of asking for proof of their certification before you meet with them.


General contractor for the Greater Orlando Metro Area including:

Orlando, Windermere, Winter Garden, Winter Park, Heathrow, Lake Mary, Longwood, Ocoee, Winter Springs, Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Casselberry, Sanford, Clermont, Belle Isle, Edgewood, Oviedo, Davenport and surrounding communities.