We recently completed our second project with Paul and Mainland Ventures (the first was in 2013). This project was much larger than the first, but we were so pleased with Paul and team the first time around, we didn’t bother getting quotes from anyone else this time. I had absolutely no concern in making that decision because of my complete faith that Paul would treat us fairly. That said, the first time we got 4 or 5 quotes and Mainland’s was competitive with the others. If it turns out Mainland is slightly higher than anyone else, I guarantee you will more than make it up in quality, professionalism and reduced stress.
Our project this time around was essentially the entirety of the main floor of our 1930s craftsman house, which had been “updated” many time over the years with varying levels of quality. I don’t know that the scope of work is so important as the way Paul and team (specifically Conor) approached the work. Firstly, we were staying in the house while the reno was going on by living in the basement and sleeping upstairs, which required us to go through the main floor at least twice per day. The team was extremely diligent in keeping the site clean and their tools put away neatly every day. They also installed a plastic barrier with a zipper door that allowed us to get upstairs without debris from downstairs migrating up. We never once had any sense that having to work around this setup was an inconvenience for them, though I’m certain it was.
My primary compliments of Mainland are:
(i) The quality of the workmanship is exceptional and the standards they set for themselves and their subtrades are extremely high. When I pointed out very minor things that were almost certainly within the tolerance of reasonable quality, Paul always addressed them anyway; not once did he or Conor say or imply “that’s good enough”.
(ii) Paul is always available and extremely responsive.
(iii) If anything goes slightly wrong (which it’s bound to eventually), whether a miscommunication or an error, Paul immediately takes ownership of it. I’m sure there were occasions where I misremember conversations and Paul could have rightly said “you told me X not Y” but every time it was just addressed without any argument.
(iv) Paul and Conor are very flexible in changing the plan as you go. We made some major changes (including changing out windows and moving a window a few feet, which meant all kinds of unplanned exterior work) and they were always happy to accommodate.
(v) Paul really watches the budget and is always looking for opportunities to do things more efficiently or save some money. That said, in most cases we decided to take the more involved route to solving problems, and were never made to feel like we should just take the easy way to save time. It was always, “here are the pros and cons, it’s your call”; though Paul and Conor are always willing to provide advice if asked.
(vi) Once the job was 99.9% done we had no issues getting Paul and Conor back to clean up the few straggling things. I have heard others say it’s taken them years to get a contractor to come back for the last 1% of the job once they’ve started the next thing; that was not remotely a concern for us.
Finally, the difference between Mainland and others is how Paul responded to adversity. We did not get a building permit for our project on the logic that we weren’t doing anything structural, so it shouldn’t be required (in fact we added new walls). However, the city disagreed with this assessment and two months into the job (right as drywall was about to start going up) we were shut down. I have heard stories from others about contractors basically saying “give me a call when you get your permits and we’ll fit you in when we can” when this sort of thing happens. Paul did the exact opposite and immediately had architects, engineers, energy assessors and anyone else we might need on the phone (the architect literally came the day after we’d been shut down). I think we had our permit application in within two weeks of being shut down and then Paul continued to follow up with anyone he could to move it along. We were ultimately down for almost two months, but I’m certain it would have been double that without Paul’s diligence.
To put into perspective how highly I view Paul and team, I am actually offended that Mainland’s HomeStars reviews total 99%, not 100%. I actually went looking for these reviews that are less than 10 and it’s all people with great things to say, but then giving a 9 for some reason.
We will be using Mainland for all projects, large and small, until the day Paul retires (and then I’ll probably be begging him after that).
- Company Response
Dear Jordan and Nicole,
I am utterly speechless. I have read your review a dozen times and feel like I cannot thank you enough or find the appropriate words to express my appreciation to you. The time and thoughtfulness that you put into the eloquently-written, spectacularly-detailed and thorough review of your experience with us is unmatched by any we have ever received. Thank you. I wish there were a website to rate people as you, Nicole and the family would also have the highest ratings in all facets one could ever be rated. I guess this is my opportunity to do so in replying to you here.
I think it is important for the readers to know the type of people that you are and thus gives context to the absolutely humbling assessment that I’m not sure is fully deserved that you have given us. If you can imagine a young couple of the highest professional and academic accomplishments whom lead incredibly busy lives managing family, home and specialized careers. They are what people would call a ‘power couple’. Yet they are kind, sincere, and down to earth, are not driven or conduct themselves by their ego though with their accomplishments they would have all the right to do so. Truly they are people of the most intelligent, considerate, reasonable, generally good nature I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I mean with the utmost sincerity, that I am profoundly affected from meeting and working with you both.
Like I have said many times before, the most important component in the success of project, large or small comes primarily from the client’s attitudes and demeanours. Large scale renovations are at best very overwhelming, unpredictable and stressful undertakings especially when you choose to live in the home during the project. Working with you sets a new gold standard and we are very sad to have to move on. However, on behalf of all of the people who worked on your home, thank you for making our days memorable and enjoyable. We wish you a great many years of enjoyment, health and happiness in your newly renovated home. I will not hesitate to respond to any and all requests from you in the future whether I am retired or not. It would be my honor and great pleasure. Take very good care. May your beloved George forever rest in peace.