Thursday, March 21, 2013

THUMBTACK.COM - Review of services

Without question there are lots of entities online which are trying to act as a go between for customers and contractors.  For the customer they offer a means of easily gaining access to local contractors.  For the contractor, the online service, amounts to a form of advertisement, as they pay a fee to be placed in front of the customer for consideration.

It has been my experience, having been a business owner and licensed residential contractor since 2004, that many of these online services which seek to act as an interface for home owners and local contractors are poorly conceived, poorly managed and whose end result is mediocre at best.

Some of these online customer/contractor services have even changed their online names because of the bad reputations they have incurred nation wide.

When I first signed up with THUMBTACK.COM I knew little of what reputation they may have already acquired.  I knew less about what made THUMBTACK unique in the mix of all the other online services.  And as such online services are not my primary form of construction work, THUMBTACK did not immediately stand out as my attention was not focus on such online services for the same reasons I named above.

Slowly, none the less, THUMBTACK began to push threw the fog of similar online companies.

Essentially THUMBTACKs benefits are these;

1).  A functional and practical online platform for contractors to present their services and links to their websites.

2).  A contractor review forum which THUMBTACK verifies the authenticity by calling back the customers to ascertain that the reviews are legitimate.

3).  The customer gets more than phone calls from contractors who have paid for their contact info.  Rather the customer first may view the contractors online reviews, profile, portfolios and linked websites before deciding to them selves contact the available contractors.  This allows the customer to make their own estimation of who they want to talk to instead of being inundated with phone calls from contractors who have paid between $35 and $75 for there phone numbers.  Contractors who have paid that much for a phone number are already over invested and are expecting some thing in return.  Which puts an inordinate amount of the pressure of the potential customer.

4).  THUMBTACK leads can cost the contractor as much as a few cups of coffee.  The benefit is a contractor who, for little financial investment, can present his or her services.  And a customer who can make informed choices.

Portland - General Contractors

Monday, February 25, 2013


How a project comes to fruition has everything to do with how it was conceived. 

Upwards Custom specializes in residential remodels, additions, kitchens and bath remodels, craftsman siding, custom carpentry, framing and decks. We value craftsmanship and fulfilling the design goals of our customers. 

The way we deal with people in the community is as important as our construction expertise; the two go together.  Our belief that professional business relations measures the success of our projects has, over the years, proven itself true. 

We want customers to be satisfied with what they pay for. Not only do we fulfill the written terms of our contracts, we also make sure the finished work matches what was imagined and desired.  

Because respect is the foundation of good relationships, we believe contracts must be clear and concise. Agreements must be completely defined in specific and sound terms, avoiding conflict between different interpretations.

Thorough contracts serves as a protection for all involved against conflicts and unfulfilled design ambitions.   Thorough contracts allow for the clearest perspectives in realizing a project scope. When problems arise, our clearly defined contracts give a firm ground for resolutions or amendments to be built on. This helps secure and maintain the success of a project and the satisfaction of a paying customer.
Like all other things, business liability, construction, design challenges, craftsmanship, and professionalism come at a price. The cost of equity, stability, and sound methods are part of any responsibly executed project investment.  Poorly executed projects can cost much more than what was originally sold to a customer.  Often setbacks and unanticipated costs are resultant when projects do not get started on a sound footing.  Ultimately a well conceived project is money well spent as its benefits will be realized repeatedly long after the project's completion.

Satisfaction cannot be fooled.


Friday, February 22, 2013


Churches are such awesome buildings.  It seems a sign of mediocrity when their inherent pulpits grow silent and mistakenly irrelevant in our modern culture.  And though the orators of the pulpit may retire for a season, the wealth of the structure can live on in residential uses.

And even as such residential conversions serve as new, interesting living spaces, the conversion of church assembly to music venue seems a more natural and relevant context for such functional community spaces.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Where we spend our money is a reflection of that which we value. We may say one thing or another, but to where the funds fall is more telling than we often realize. The truth of economics is estimated in costs and benefits. We find our selves making economic choices every day. We find our selves revealing the elements of our heart in the costs and benefits we choose to esteem. It is not that making purchases is an act of selfishness, although it can be. It is not a question of materialism being right or wrong. It is a matter of quality. Does this item or experience ultimately add quality to my life? Does it enhance the lives of the persons around me? If a thing is a benefit to the persons around me, is that then a benefit to me?

These questions mull around in our minds and hearts as we consider whether we wish to spend the money. To the degree that we fully fathom the consequence of our choices is obvious in that we often spend on emotion rather than reason. Marketing depends on our disposition to conclude emotional, in the moment decisions rather than concise estimating of the cost and benefits. It is evident that we experience a learning curve in the matter of choices. Often bad choices and the resulting consequences effect in us a more sober and reflective consideration as we face new choices.

It is at this point, where in a prudent thought towards purchases requires a greater weight to our choices. That burden is value. Where by we assign another form of importance beyond immediate gratification. In this way our thinking is more mature. More realized. So that what choices invariably reflect us as people are choices which are more carefully made. As we decide who it is we want or don't want to be. Where by the idea of investment becomes more meaningful.


The Websters dictionary defines "invest" as : - the commitment of money and/or (time, energy, or effort) to a project with the expectation of some worthwhile result.

As we look for quality in the results of our efforts, as we look to secure a measure of satisfaction that does not seem to come short of our expectations, the question of cost to our selves grows, the investment of our finances weighs more heavily in the balances.

Is the gainfulness of our effort realized when results come to fruition? Is the burden and cost of investment matched in the stability and excellence of a thing obtained?

When considering the cost of things that will be with us for years to come, things which our children may inherit, are we satisfied when we were able to obtain some thing cheaply, at minimal cost ? Or do we believe that the long term substance of an investment will outlast what cost we bare today ?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Upwards Custom specializes in residential remodels, additions, modern kitchens and custom built decks. We care about the work we do and we care about the people we work for. We find that how we deal with persons in the community is as important as our skill in the trades which we operate. One can not do with out the other.

For us the measure of a successful project is counted in the quality of our business relations with whom we deal. This business sense has shown it self to be true over the years of our work in the community. So it is self evident that our dealings with persons, businesses or customers can not enjoy real quality with out relationship being principle in our conduct. There by we want customers to be happy with the work they have paid for. Not only that we fulfill the written terms of the contract, but that the end product is a realization of what was imagined and desired.

This doesn't come to pass without a relevant and exacting business relationship. We think this premise can mean doing our best to salvage a bad situation. As good relationships are built on respect, we think contractual agreements must be entirely clear and concise. So that what is agreed upon is in its entirety, completely defined in terms which are specific and sound in definition. This does not allow for interpretation of what one meant to say or of what one didn't fully express.

Thorough contracts act as a safety valve, giving us the clearest perspective in our discourse with all parties involved. So that if problems do arise, the clarity of the contractual arrangement gives a firm back ground for any resolutions or amendments to rest upon. Thus help to secure and maintain respectful and ongoing relations. We encourage these determinations in our employees and subcontractors. Knowing that we are a team and must function becoming as such. So that the same clarity and concise standards expressed in our contractual agreements are exercised and exacted in them whom we employ.

Construction, design challenges and craftsmanship, business liability, professionalism, like all things, come at a price. The cost of stability, equity and sound methods are part of the investment cost of any responsible project. How often do we suffer the stresses of dysfunction resulting from costs not considered. The cost of managing a poorly executed project can be a grave excess to what would have been a comprehensive cost assessment from the onset. What might seem to be the comprehensive price of quality is ultimately money well spent in the totality of an investment. Its return will be realized over and over through out the course of a job and long after the job is done. Satisfaction can not be fooled.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The liability and exposer which a licensed, bonded and insured contractor brings to a jobs site is most often a commodity which goes unnoticed. Yet the discipline of accountability is by law the first framework of contractual agreements. Contractors which provide this legal structure as an integral method to their process show in their work an attention to detail and professionalism. To neglect the legal fundamentals of contractual agreements is to build on the shifting sands of chance. What does it suppose about the quality of work to be expected from such undermined arrangements? It seems to give substance to the phrase, “you get what you pay for.”