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Contractor Screening Tips: An Interview with Jerry Guzzo of Guzzo Stucco

By Kristen Bosse

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Our company is Guzzo Stucco. We are 3 generations strong of a family owned and operated company. My name is Jerry Guzzo Jr. and my dad Jerry Guzzo owns the company. He took over the company from his father in 1981. The company was founded by my grandfather Frank Guzzo in 1954 after he sailed to the United States from Italy.

What are some of the services your company provides?

We specialize on exterior facades and remediation projects such as stucco, stone, EIFS, and thin brick. We perform many commercial and residential projects across the entire state of New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

What is the basic process you use when screening new contractors to recommend?

We look to see how long the company has been in business, recent jobs they completed, and word of mouth from people that they deal with such as their suppliers, customers, or other contractors that have worked alongside of them. Also, their customer service from interacting with them.

What are 3 to 5 things you look for in a superbly qualified candidate?

Quality of workmanship. Commitment and presentation. Something that they do different that may separate themselves from the rest of the contractors. Comparable price to other similar contractors whether it be a little more or a little less. The last thing you want is someone who priced the job way over the average price or someone who priced the job way under the average price. Customer service is very important.

What are some examples of bad contractor behavior that may steer you away from suggesting them and backing their credibility?

Under cutting the price of the job usually means that you're not going to get the quality that you're expecting whether it be with the craftsmanship or in simply dealing with the contractor. Bad contractors tend to not pay for material they get from their suppliers. Sometimes contractors estimate the job a little high in order to lower the price to make it seem like you are getting a discount. A good contractor gives you their best number first. If a contractor has bad customer service, we don't want to deal with them.

What questions do you suggest homeowners ask their contractors before hiring them?

Ask for contact info of their suppliers and of references from previous projects. What separates them from all of the other contractors out there? Ask to see similar projects to yours that they completed.

When should homeowners discuss prices and payments with their new contractor?

The cost of the job should be discussed right away so that the homeowner knows what they are getting into and the contractor should be allowed enough time to give an exact price of the job. A payment schedule that is manageable for both the homeowner and the contractor should be worked out and documented via e-mail or on the contract before the work is to begin.

What do you believe is the best way to tell of a contractor's worth? (i.e. testimonials, their website, face-to-face interacts, Yelp scores, personal recommendations etc.)

Word of mouth from reliable sources. Quick responsiveness. Willingness to meet at the job. Reviews on directory pages such as Yelp, Google, Bing. How the contractor presents themselves with their website, brochures, samples, information, and customer service.

Is there any other tips you have for homeowners who are screening new contractors?

Every reliable contractor should go over the project with you in detail so that you know what you are getting. They should be supplying you with as much information as possible about their company and the work they do in detail about how it meets code and is the right way to do it even if you don't understand it.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Our website is www.guzzostucco.com and my e-mail is jr@guzzostucco.com.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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