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FAQ

Why is Cobalt so focused on getting it done quickly?

Renovations are messy, noisy work.  There is just no way around that.  Cobalt takes extraordinary measures to ensure that the mess is well controlled and that the impact upon your living space during the work is kept to an absolute minimum.  We even have your whole home professionally cleaned when we are finished, including the furnace and all duct work!  But living with a renovation is just not fun.  This is why we are single-minded about keeping the job moving and ensuring that progress is made each and every day until the work is complete.  Nobody wants to live in a construction zone longer than they have to!

Is 8 weeks really all that fast?

Well, actually, if you check our portfolio section, many of our projects are completed in under 7 weeks.  In fact, we think we might be changing our 8 week guarantee to a 6 week guarantee very soon!  But to answer the question, 'Yes, 8 weeks is quick!'  Check around with friends, family and associates that have had their basement developed by 'professionals'.  It is not uncommon to hear stories of 4-5 months to get the job done.  Most of the companies you will come across on the internet will mention 14-16 weeks as a typical time-frame  under 'ideal circumstances'.  That all sounds a little less than certain.  Why are they all so uncertain about how long it will take?  Is it 14 weeks or 16??  Regardless, you will not find another contractor in Calgary that will guarantee your basement developed in 8 weeks.  In fact, most of them won't even give you a firm completion date.

So does Cobalt just ‘rush’ everything at the sacrifice of quality?

Absolutely not! That is not our approach at all. Our philosophy is firmly rooted in the belief that if we provide the framework and environment for our sub-trade partners to perform, they will! And guess what? They do! It’s a very simple secret called 'scheduling'. All of our trades know weeks in advance, when we need them to start and when we need them to finish. We ensure that they have all of the information and tools that they need, along with a clean, safe work site, to do their job the way that they know how to do it. Keith and Greg are pretty good carpenters themselves, but the trades people we use are top-notch. Every one of them is committed to their craft and all they want to do is get their job done, get paid, and go home with a sense of pride in having achieved the level of craftsmanship that they expect of themselves. When we provide an environment where this can happen, amazing things occur. The job gets done. It gets done right. It gets done on-time. And it gets done on-budget. Quality is the natural result of this kind of approach.

You have mentioned sub-trades. Does Cobalt do any of the work ‘in-house’ or is all work done by sub-trades?

Like I said, Keith and Greg are pretty good at a few things when it comes to hands-on the tools. In fact, you should would be amazed to see what Keith can do with just about any tool and any material (Greg's not too bad either). But we have all heard the saying, 'Jack of all trades, master of none.' We leave framing to the framers and drywall to the drywallers. Likewise electrical, plumbing, tile, carpet, painting, and so on. We believe that in order to provide the ultimate renovation experience to our clients, we have to focus on the process and the experience. This is where Keith and Greg truly shine.

Why does Cobalt specialize in basement development?

You'll have to forgive the sports analogy here, but who remembers Michael Jordan's stint in Major League Baseball??  We didn't set out to be just another renovation contractor.  We set out to do things differently.  To re-invent the experience of hiring a general contractor to do work in your home.  We feel that the best way that we can do this is to focus on one thing and be the best at it.  Sure, we are more than capable of building garages, fences, decks, and renovating bathrooms and kitchens, but Michael Jordan could swing a bat and run too...

Does Cobalt do other renovation work too?

Once and a while, we will take on other renovation work.  Especially when it is attached to a basement development.  But the main reason that we sometimes take on other renovation work is usually because clients that we have done basement developments for, insist upon it and wouldn't hire anyone else to do renovations in their home after having had a Cobalt experience, and we just hate to say 'no' to our valued clients.

Is Cobalt a Licensed General Contractor?

Yes.  We are licensed with the Government of Alberta, and The City of Calgary.  From time to time we do jobs outside of the City, in neighboring towns and we always obtain valid business licenses before we proceed with those projects.

Why is it important to be licensed?

In order to conduct business as a general contractor in Alberta, and accept deposits and progress payments, a company must carry a pre-paid bond which is registered with Service Alberta and must conform to guidelines set out in the Fair Trading Act. In order for a general contractor to have a City of Calgary Business License, they must first be registered with Service Alberta. A general contractor cannot pull building permits without these licenses in place. All of this regulation and structure is for the protection of both the consumer and the contractor. To put it plainly, there is just no way that Cobalt would ever consider operating a business without these things, and I would strongly suggest that no homeowner should ever consider hiring a contractor that is not fully licensed, to do so is just asking for problems.

Is Cobalt Developments accredited with the Better Business Bureau?

Yes. You will see a link at the bottom of the page to our BBB Business Review. Please check it out! This is also a good time to mention that we are not in any way, shape or form, affiliated with a company called "Cobalt Construction" which has an F- rating with the BBB. That is a rather unfortunate discover that we made long after Cobalt Developments was born. We are Cobalt Developments and we have a perfect record with the Better Business Bureau.

Is Cobalt bonded?

Yes. It is impossible to be licensed in the Province of Alberta without carrying a pre-paid contractor bond.

Does Cobalt take out all necessary building permits?

Of course. All permits and inspections are just part of what we do.

Does Cobalt carry liability insurance?

Yes we do. $2 million worth.

Do Cobalt and its sub-trades carry WCB coverage?

Always. We are happy to provide clearance letters any time, at your request.

Does Cobalt offer any warranty coverage?

We offer a comprehensive 2 year warranty. All materials are covered by their own 1 year warranties, and Cobalt covers all workmanship for a full 2 years. You will receive follow-up communication at 3, 12 and 24 months after your project is complete.

Blog

Since this is the first blog  post in our newly created blog, I figured what better place to start than at the beginning. Who doesn’t like a story about how it all began? I can’t promise that it will be edge-of-your seat type stuff, but I have to think that at least a few are wondering how Keith and I got started and how Cobalt was born. So here goes…

 

Keith and I first became acquainted as we both worked for what I would call a medium sized home builder in Calgary. When we worked together, we always found that we got along and shared a lot of common interests. We were both family men, loved the outdoors, and shared a common faith.  The more we got to know each other, the better friends that we became.

 

When  you work at a home building company, and you have a solid background in the construction trades, pretty much everyone you know wants you to do a project for them now and then. Decks, fences, built-ins, painting, and just about any other home renovation job you can think of. And Keith and I did them all. It’s hard to say no to friends and family and who doesn’t like to have a little bit of extra vacation $$$ to play with?

 

Pretty soon Keith and I were teaming up on projects.  We found that our individual strengths complimented each other quite well. Where I would be fast and efficient in the carpentry related parts of the job, Keith was expert in the paint and drywall aspects. The stuff in between, we taught ourselves.

 

My motto was, “the dummy isn’t the guy that doesn’t know, it’s the guy that doesn’t ask.” Keith’s motto was, “If that guy over there with 6″ of butt crack showing can do it, I sure as hell can figure it out!”  One thing we did know for sure, is that there is always a right way to do something, and a multitude of wrong ways, you just had to be willing to do the homework and not be too proud to ask for a bit of guidance and advice from the real pro’s. Luckily, due to the nature of our day jobs, there was never a shortage of those at our disposal, although some of them probably got tired of the random questions about things like how to install a two-phase breaker in an electrical panel.

 

But while quality was never an issue, timeframes were far from ideal. Working hours were also constantly begging the forgiveness of our gracious clientele. Keith and I both knew that there was a better way.

 

It was just after completing a partial basement in Cranston, that a friend of mine approached me and asked if we would be willing to do their basement in Evergreen. I was a bit burnt out after 5 months of evenings and weekends in Cranston and so I graciously declined my friends petition. They proceeded to hire a contractor to take on their basement development project.

 

As their job progressed I began receiving fairly regular updates on how things were going. Occasionally my friends would ask my opinion on things and run technical questions by me.  I frequently heard things like “It’s been 2 weeks since we have seen or heard from anyone”, “The trades people are asking us for direction”, “If Mike (my friend – the client) hadn’t asked, such and such would have been missed all together”.

 

And so it dragged on. At one point my friends went on vacation for 3 weeks, leaving the home accessible while they were gone and when they returned not a thing had changed.

 

But an out of control timeframe was only half the story… the budget had grown legs. At first they were quoted “about” $50,000. By the time it was all said and done it had gone North of $70,000 and taken nearly 7 months.

 

None of this was really all that eye-opening for me, I’d heard lots of stories like it before. I think we all have. But the epiphany came when I found out that my friends actually referred this contractor to one of their friends who subsequently had the same experience. In the end, they were both happy with the finished product and I guess they just accepted that usually home renovation and hiring a general contractor is a painful process. What I really came to understand is that most people just think this type of experience is just ‘normal’ when it comes to having a contractor work for you. The more people that I talked to about their home renovation experiences, the more stories I heard that were not too far off what my friends had gone through.

 

That is when Keith and I decided to start Cobalt. A company founded in the idea that the quality of the finished product is not the only thing that counts. The quality of the experience is equally important, perhaps more so in fact. What is more is that Keith and I knew that it was possible to provide an experience that goes against all the norms in the home renovation world.  It started with a few simple absolutes.

 

On time. On budget. Open communication. The are things that we do not compromise on, no matter the situation. It’s what you can count on when hiring Cobalt for your basement development.

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That’s all, Folks :)