SOCA 2013 Rehab Resources
The 2013 Contractor’s and Specialist Listing is undergoing its final edits. The official version will be posted shortly. Thank you for your patience.
Purpose- This rehab and restoration resources list is a joint effort by Sacramento Heritage, Inc. and SOCA, dedicated preservationists working to facilitate appropriate restoration of older structures. It contains information including a list of contractors, artisans and suppliers known to be skilled in working on older homes in the Sacramento area. While the list was assembled from a variety of sources, we are indebted to Roger Lathe for sharing his list of reputable contractors accumulated during his many years as a “savior” of old houses. Suggestions continue to be received and included from satisfied customers.
WORDS OF CAUTION – A recommendation from a satisfied client is sufficient to place a contractor on this list. By the same relatively loose standard, a complaint from a dissatisfied customer is enough to cause removal from the next revision of the list. SOCA assumes NO liability or responsibility, implied or otherwise, for results from anyone on this list. The presence of a name or company signifies only that they have done excellent work on an older home for at least one person who was sufficiently motivated to suggest their inclusion. Any relationship, for better or for worse, is strictly between the two interested parties.
Please consider carefully words from, “New Life for an Old House” by Grant Mallett (Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1984). This should be required reading for all aspiring preservationists regardless of experience, or lack thereof, regarding the complexity of a project, or size of budget…. “All work on all old houses, regardless of the age, size or condition, is governed by three universal and immutable laws: The project will take longer than expected, cost more than was allocated and involve more work than anticipated. Working on an old house builds character, if nothing else. Patience, endurance and adaptability are three of the principal rewards that accrue from the completion of any project. Give the specifications only to contractors who specialize in, and are experienced in, the type of work that needs to be done. Always get at least three bids. The entire set of plans can be handed to a general contractor, or they can be broken down into components and given to specialty contractors. When two or more contractors are awarded the bid, be prepared to assume the difficult task of coordinating their efforts. With this in mind, it is often easier and quicker, though not necessarily cheaper, to go with a general contractor. Ask for references on recently completed projects and speak with former customers.They can help assess the capability and reliability of a contractor. Check with the Better Business Bureau about complaints. Find out how many complaints were resolved. Make sure that the contractor has contractor’s risk insurance. Make provisions for change orders. They will always come up, especially on old houses. Do not give the contractor an automatic go-ahead. Ask for change order specifications in writing. The change can be an actual bid price or time-and-material. Set completion date. Make a penalty for each day the work is late. Do not sign the Contract or make any payments before all points have been clarified and be sure to follow all the rules set down in the contract.”
ADDITIONAL CAUTION: Always get necessary permits. Exterior changes to an old building often require approval by City Preservation staff and/or Preservation Commission. The goal is to maintain the historic integrity of a building or restore it if it has been remuddled. A common remuddle is to remove original windows and replace them with non period appropriate new windows. This destroys the historic integrity of the building and can lower resale value and neighborhood home values. Undoing this kind of work increases beauty and value. The Preservation Ordinance requirement pertains only to the exterior. However, it is advised to retain or restore as much of the interior historic fabric as well. Owners can update wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning and kitchen and bath appliances without destroying a building’s character. Insensitive interior remodeling lowers the value of buildings, makes them less pleasant places to live and, if they are rentals, lowers the amount of rent owners can expect to receive. If you’re not sure what is period or not, seek consultation from someone who does.
The cheapest bid is not always the best and conversely, the most expensive may not be the best. In addition to calling references, go look at the contractor’s work if possible. Before hiring a contractor, you are advised to call the State Contractor’s Licensing Board at 1-800-321-2752 or go online to www.cslb.ca.gov to look up the contractor license number. Be certain the license is current and if any complaints have been made. Be sure that any contractor you hire has appropriate insurance. Contractors are legally required to carry workers comp insurance. Legitimate contractors will provide a copy of his/her certificate of workers comp insurance on request. Always get one before work begins. In some cases, it is advisable to carry your own back-up worker’s comp policy. For further information, consult your attorney or insurance agent or call the State Compensation Board at 916-924-5100. If you decide to do any work yourself (sweat equity can save money), be realistic about your skills and your budget. Regarding the unavoidable complaints about this Resource List or suggestions for additional names, recommended improvements, etc., please contact Sacramento Old City Association at 739-0264.
There are many fine local contractors, artisans and suppliers whose names are not on this list. If you take pride in your work on older houses or carry the kind of materials needed to restore them, and can get satisfied customers to suggest your inclusion please let us know.
Best wishes to you intrepid sailors on the unpredictable and occasionally stormy seas of restoration.