This review cost me about $8,000.00 and months of lost time on my remodel project. I would like to save other potential clients the risk having a similar experience with this contractor.
This contractor bills as a interior designer / general contractor. Stacy is on the high end of the spectrum when it comes to cost. She charges $185.00/hr for "design work" and cost plus 25% for general contractor fee which is higher than standard. I hired her based on an excellent review from an acquaintance. Stacy has no related professional credentials that I could find, and as far as I can tell she is not a licensed contractor. But, the City of Austin does not require general contractors to be licensed. I hired her based solely on the one glowing review.
This contractor sold herself as being better than the rest and I believed that is what I would get. Not quite.
Several months into the project there was a misunderstanding regarding the type of wood used for kitchen cabinets. We were working from a sample photo I liked and what I got was not what I was expecting. As soon as I realized the cabinets were already built and not what I expected I asked Stacy to meet in person or at least have a phone conversation to discuss the misunderstanding over cabinet material. In response Stacy immediately ceased all verbal communication and would only communicate over email. She had my money and she would not speak to me. Stacy insisted (over email) that I ordered and approved the cabinet material that we ended up with. However, I was not given the opportunity to see a sample until the cabinets had already been built. Ironically, all that I wanted at that point was to have an honest discussion with my contractor about the mix-up, and how to avoid similar issues going forward. I did not ask for anything more than that. After several days went by with no returned calls and only occasional email communication telling me to accept the cabinets as they were because that is "what I ordered" I became increasingly frustrated and upset. This exchange culminated in a email from Stacy "suggesting" that I terminate her contract under her "Termination for Convenience" Clause. She was crystal clear that she wanted to terminate the contract but she wanted me to initiate the termination in order to give her the advantage of collecting questionable fees given the circumstances. I made an effort (over email) to salvage the business relationship but it was clear she would no longer work with me. At this juncture she had not secured City of Austin permits and no work had been performed on the remodel. I had made a $50K down payment on cabinets, garage door and a exterior siding contract, and she had billed for 12 hours of work ( which was some planning/design discussion and she placed three material orders).
It took more than a month for me to untangle the outstanding accounts, get the City of Austin Permit Application under a new contractor's name and receive a refund for what Stacy believed was due back to me. Before termination of our contract Stacy was in possession of $50,000.00 of my money. Stacy had stated over email that should would help and expedite the transition of accounts and refund to me. In reality I had to do most of the work myself. In effect, she double billed me ("design" plus GC fee) to the tune of $8,000 for a few hours work, which included ordering cabinets without showing me a sample.
I learned some valuable lessons with this experience and it cost me dearly. There are bound to be disagreements or points of contention on any large remodel project. The question is how will your contractor handle it when it comes up?
If you are considering this contractor for your project do yourself a favor... don't walk but run away as fast as you can.