What child didn’t like building when they were younger? The answer is very few and Ben Refael took that to heart when he co-founded Fidelity General Contractors in Encino, CA.
Since then, Ben and his team have been creating beautiful bathrooms, kitchens and additions all over Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. I recently chatted with Leighanne Raley, the scheduling manager at Fidelity, to hear how business is going and what homeowners need to know when it comes to all home remodeling projects.
Jacob Hurwith: To start off, tell me a little more about the business?
Leighanne Raley: We have been serving the two counties for a very long time. We are passionate and some of us come from a long line of contracting, including myself.
We do it all from kitchen and bathroom design to flooring, roofing and additions. Essentially, we will do anything inside or outside the house that is not landscaping.
We are not a huge company, but not a small one either. We like being a middle-sized company because when a customer calls us, they know what they are going to get. We answer the phones here. You will never get some customer service line.
Jacob Hurwith: Tell me a little more about your background in home improvement?
Leighanne Raley: I come from a long line of carpenters. My grandfather was a builder and a carpenter his whole life. In fact, he even built my grandmother a mansion where we spent summers. He passed that passion down to my two uncles who are still in the business.
So while I have been in the business for nine years, I knew a lot about it growing up.
Jacob Hurwith: What do you guys love about the business?
Leighanne Raley: Fidelity loves creating beautiful designs. We love seeing people’s reactions and how happy they get. Ben’s family was in the business and he has always been interested in building. He likes to create and that passion shows through each and every employee. After all, what kid didn’t like to build when they were younger?
Jacob Hurwith: What are some of the most frustrating aspects of the business?
Leighanne Raley: There are certain projects that just can’t be done due to budgets or home limitations. Sometimes, the customer has a dream or idea of something they would like to do to their property that can’t be done.
Additionally, we don’t enjoy fixing items that were not done properly the first time. We enjoy the business, but we know that it costs the customer more money. While the more expensive route doesn’t always sound appealing, oftentimes, that is what it takes to get the job done correctly.
Nevertheless, it’s unfortunate when that happens.
Jacob Hurwith: Tell me about your favorite remodeling story.
Leighanne Raley: We did a full kitchen remodel a few years ago for a woman. The following year, she called us out to give her an estimate on replacing her front door that was giving her problems. We went out and ended up doing some minor adjustments at no charge.
Two months later, her daughter called us to redo her entire kitchen and to this day, we still get referrals from the mother.
Jacob Hurwith: While I am sure the original work played a key role, it seems you got more work because you fixed her front door at no cost. What are your thoughts on offering free services?
Leighanne Raley: In the end, we just want to help the customer. There are a lot of jobs that are too small, but instead of just saying no, we either make the minor adjustments like I mentioned earlier or refer them to a local handyman. We refer a lot of clients, but it pays off because we get a lot of referrals as well.
Jacob Hurwith: What advice do you have for homeowners working on their own home remodeling projects or those working with professional contractors?
Leighanne Raley: Make sure you hire someone that is licensed and insured. You need someone that can do quality work for a quality budget. Make sure they do not skimp on materials. You will pay for it later. Materials don’t have to be expensive, but if they are really cheap, chances are, you will pay for it later.
No matter who you hire for your next remodeling job, make sure you purchase quality materials.
As we have heard from numerous pros, do not skimp on materials. If you go the cheap route, oftentimes, you end up paying for it later on.
If you are in need of a general contractor in Los Angeles or Ventura County, click here and connect with Leighanne and the Fidelity team.