I have been struggling to complete my log-ish home for close to 3 years. I ended up firing my original builder in the fall of 2011 because he was taking my money and not doing the work. I decided to take over the project and find the various subs needed to finish the home. It has gone quite well with one exception -- Old Dominion Custom Homes operating out of Front Royal, VA.
The most challenging problem I had in completing my home was finding a contractor with solid experience with log post and beam work to make my stick-built home look more rustic. I am replacing several 2x4 and 2x6 posts with solid logs, adding numerous log posts and beams to my prow and wanted to find a reputable contractor who knew exactly how to do this and wasn't going to be learning from scratch on my project. So I found Old Dominion Custom Homes out of Front Royal, VA to help me out. I found them from a small ad in the back of Timberhome Living magazine.
Old Dominion Custom Homes and I had a few phone calls and then we met up at my home site; we decided the best plan of action was to work on getting a takeoff or detailed estimate for all the remaining work on the house; this information would be used to help me make decisions about the final cost of the house and to figure out what parts Old Dominion would handle.
At a cost of $850 they took my plans and walked through my house making notes about the current state of completion. They put together a nice pictorial binder, room by room, with information on the square footage of the room and the perimeter length. This was helpful in giving me the square footage needed for various floor covering alternatives. While the the report was good, it was missing some information that was previously discussed as being "in scope", but that is not the real reason for my dissatisfaction.
A key aspect of my decision to move forward with Old Dominion was their experience and that they could help me complete certain parts of the project -- the log and tongue-and-groove work. After receiving a binder containing estimated cost info to complete the house, I contacted Old Dominion to formally engage them in doing the log work as well as various finish carpentry such as wrapping LVL beams in pine, etc. At this time, communication became difficult and my calls were not returned. After several weeks of no communication, I had to assume that Old Dominion had abandoned me and had no desire to do any of the work that we had been discussing for 2 months.
My dissatisfaction comes from two points:
1) Old Dominion Custom homes did not honor our contract. My reason for contacting them was not to generate a takeoff, but to handle an important part of work for me. I was told repeatedly by Old Dominion -- and it was in our contract -- that the cost of the completion estimate could be applied to further work with Old Dominion. The effort to generate the estimate was a necessary step, but was only a very small part of the expected engagement. But Old Dominion Custom Homes denied me the opportunity to recover my small investment by abandoning me after investing over 2 months with them.
2) Old Dominion wasted in excess of 2 months of my time. After they abandoned my project, I had to start from scratch with another timberframe contractor. My home site is a 2.5 hour drive away from my main residence; each trip to the site wipes out a day of my life. This is my biggest source of dissatisfaction. If they had simply told me up front that they couldn't help me, I would have moved on and not invested 2+ months with them.
Old Dominion Custom homes behaved unethically in their dealings with me. After seeing their BBB record, it appears they have a track record of not meeting customer expectations. Proceed cautiously with Old Dominion Custom Homes.
The real villan appears to be the joker that drug it out for three years and did not finish. A home should take to longer than 6 to 9 months after ground is broken.
In defense of Old Dominion, although I don't know the details, $850 does not cover the cost of generating a detailed contract and specifications that they provided to you. Because of the existing bad situation they probably charged that $850 to cover some of the expense it takes to create such plans, after all they were spending the 2 months in the negotiation, as you were. I don't know anything about Old Dominion Custom homes. But it just seems like with the information you presented, they can hardly be villanized.
I guess the owner and builder perspectives can be very different.