Karma did excellent work on our partial rowhouse renovation. Their scope included near total demolition of the second floor, reconfiguration of bedrooms, renovation of our master bath, adding a second upstairs bath, and a full kitchen renovation (including moving utilities).
Karma consistently did excellent work, worked with us to manage our budget despite encountering issues outside of their control, and were very professional throughout the process. A house renovation is an intense, stressful, and emotional event. Karma did an excellent job managing our stress level – and it helped that they met their schedule and cost projections. I would certainly recommend them to anyone for a renovation project of any size.
We are totally delighted with the quality of the work completed on our house. Karma kept a very clean work site, kept all materials and finishings organized in the parts of the house not under construction, and fixed the few small damages to areas not under renovation (such as a ding in the hardwood floor at the bottom of the stairs). Throughout the process, the Karma team worked with me to identify places where quality could be improved or a special feature added and went the extra mile several times to ensure things were done the right way, not necessarily the cheapest or quickest way.
The best example of this is routing of pipes and air conditioning ducts. Once demolition began, it appeared that we would potentially need a bulkhead in the downstairs dining room to accommodate the air conditioning vent, which had to be routed through the master bath above. Karma explained the issue but said they would work to find a way to make it work without the unsightly bulkhead. After further deliberation, they found a solution that was creative and worked. Another example is the hard wood on the main stairs. The original plan was to lay new flooring on top of the existing stairs, but after removing some old carpet, Karma recommended refurbishing the original stairs despite the fact that, to an inexperienced eye, the stairs looked unrecoverable. After refurbishing them, a process that was less expensive than the original plan, they are now one of our favorite aspects of the renovation.
Cost estimates are always difficult to make prior to a project on an old house renovation because there isn’t enough information on what is lurking behind the walls. Karma did an excellent job helping me to understand this and working with me, throughout the demolition process, to understand why we needed to make changes and how much they would cost. Karma’s initial estimate, to hold 20 percent of the construction cost in reserve for potential changes, was spot on. At every point in the process, Karma did a great job managing my expectations. For example, when doing demolition in the kitchen, they noticed a potential plumbing issue. They immediately informed me, giving me the worst case scenario and a ballpark figure of how much it would cost. When it turned out to be not as bad as that worst case, I was relieved and understood exactly what the issue was and why it cost what it did.
Another great example of expectations management and cost control was on finishings. Karma’s suppliers (more on that below) worked with me and Karma to get the look we wanted without breaking the bank. For windows, doors, and paint Karma’s initial estimate came in higher than the final cost – helping to defray some of the costs of unexpected issues. The stair example from above also applies – Karma helped me find a better solution to a design issue that ended up costing me less than initially planned.
While Karma was great on cost and quality, they were fantastic on schedule. My neighborhood on the north side of Capitol Hill has about a dozen ongoing renovation projects at any one time. Karma started after many of them and finished well before. This kind of schedule performance comes down to three factors. First, sub-contractor relations. Tradesmen were on time, got their work done as planned, and were flexible enough to come back when/if needed for small issues. Second, Karma’s organization skills – keeping the work site organized and making sure that materials needed were there on time – cut down on delays. Finally, the Karma team worked with us closely early in the process to pick all our major design finishes (kitchen, master bath tile, etc) way before we needed to order. This made sure that the overall work schedule was not delayed waiting for finishes.
We did have one delay happen over the Christmas/New Years holiday, when we and our main Karma point of contact were both out of town. Apparently, there was confusion about the arrival of some material resulting in less work done upon return from the holidays than expected. Karma handled my personal meltdown very professionally and quickly recovered schedule, completing the project within the original projection despite having to add significant work due to issues within the structure of the house.
Karma’s major finishing suppliers, Mosaic Tile and Modern Marble, were fantastic in helping us find the right design finishes and staying within our budget. I was also impressed with Karma’s ability to work with Lowes and Restoration Hardware on returns and exchanges. As mentioned, Karma’s tradesmen were consistently excellent and in total contrast to some of the horror stories making the rounds in DC.