What is Bolster?
Bolster is a group of entrepreneurs, contractors and architects on a mission to create the most exceptional home renovation experience possible for all parties. We match homeowners with the best contractors and architects in New York City and guarantee every project is delivered beautifully. Bolster is the first Discovery Partner of the American Institute of Architects.
What type of projects does Bolster do?
Bolster specializes in high-end renovation projects in New York City. The vast majority of our work is in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Our most popular projects are kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels, complete renovations and gut renovations (where we change the layout), apartment combinations and townhouse conversions. Our average project size is $235,000 and costs typically start at $150 per square foot.
What makes Bolster Contractors special?
To join Bolster, home renovation professionals must meet our standards of professionalism, ethics and technical expertise. First our contractors have their financial history and operations vetted. Next, they're interviewed in person and then have their past projects physically inspected. Finally, they're trained in our approach and proprietary technology. Bottom line: Bolster only works with the best.
Do I need an architect or designer?
That depends on the project, and we're happy to talk you through the variables. If your project is design intensive, we will match you with a Bolster Architect who can help bring your aesthetic vision to life.
Pricing & Fees
Is a Bolster professional more expensive than a regular architect or contractor?
Bolster's architects and contractors are skilled and experienced professionals with proven track records. All are properly licensed, carry the correct insurances and deliver the highest-quality service and craftsmanship in full compliance with all laws and building codes. Their work is beautiful the first time round and endures for years with minimum maintenance costs. See Bolster’s pricing research page to see what it costs to get your renovation done right in New York City.
How does Bolster get paid?
Unlike lead generation companies, Bolster charges our professionals a fee for providing them with a variety of tools and services designed to help their business prosper and deliver an incredible renovation experience for everyone involved on every Bolster project. This means they save time and money when delivering your project compared with delivering it without Bolster.
Does Bolster add any fees to their professional's bid?
No. Bolster's technology and expert services reduces the operating costs for contractors and our fees correspond to the savings that we make for the contractor. From these fees, Bolster then pays out a small fee to our insurers to guarantee your project is delivered on schedule and never goes over budget.
Why does Bolster produce a wish list before producing a final bid?
This is best answered by analogy. Let's say you go shopping to Barneys with a $5,000 budget. You know what you are looking for but other items catch your eye and by the time you've tried everything on and arrived at the check out you've amassed $7,000 of items. However, because you now know how much everything costs you can actually make informed decisions about what to keep and what to put back.
Bolster's bidding process is similar: Bolster Contractors are trained to price everything you want on your project and then, once you know the total value of everything, work with you to make cost savings wherever possible to optimize your budget.
How do I know I am getting a fair price from a Bolster Contractor?
As per the Bolster Fair Pricing Method, all of the direct costs in your wish list have been priced net of any additional fees and my indirect costs (general requirements, profit and overhead) have been calculated to reflect the necessary quality and quantity of resources needed to deliver your project successfully and have all been priced in accordance with Bolster's guidelines. Read Eric and Allie's case study about how their Bolster Contractor saved them $65,000 in direct costs.
How does a bid from a Bolster Contractor always stay within budget?
Bolster partners with leading insurers NFP and CapSpeciality who have over one hundred years in assessing a contractor's ability to perform on renovation projects. Their professional analysis and financial guarantee (via a 100% performance and payment bond specially designed for home renovation projects), combined with Bolster HQ's ongoing support of the contractor's core functions, ensures your project is completed within your bid's original budget, barring any change order, customer induced delays or unforeseen circumstances. Nobody wants to receive a bill for thousands more than the amount their contract stipulated. A bid from a Bolster Contractor is the solution.
Why doesn't Bolster give Ballparks?
Construction can be complicated. A ballpark can be tens of thousands of dollars less than what is needed to get the job done right. Electrical, plumbing and structural complications are often only discovered during inspection of the property.
It is impossible to make a bid that includes every detail that will be included in a project?
When you commence the design phase with your Bolster Contractor, he will produce a selections sheet that specifies, quantifies and details every item being installed, including its SKU. This selections sheet and all associated design material (any drawings, plans etc.) is then added to your contract as an Annex and therefore guaranteed under the Bolster Hone Renovation Bond.
Who do I pay on my renovation?
All payments to be made throughout your project are paid directly to Bolster. Our platform them disburses funds to the various parties, including your Bolster Contractor.
Does Bolster request an advance on my project?
On average, Bolster's Contractors request a 20% advance before commencing your project. This allows them to mark their calendars and order any materials that need to arrive before they start to ensure your project stays on schedule.
Who guarantees my advance payment will not be lost?
Bolster holds your security deposit and only releases funds to your contractor once you are ready to commence on site and they require funds to begin purchasing. If your project is under $250,000, the your advance payment, and all payments thereafter, are protected and guaranteed under the Bolster Home Renovation Bond.
How does Bolster handle payments on my project?
The payment schedule is built into the contract and appears on your dashboard. It outlines the work and corresponding payment upon the completion of each stage. We'll notify you a few days in advance of scheduled payment to give you time to inspect our progress and prepare funds for transfer.
How many payments will I make on my project?
A typical renovation, which lasts on average around three months, requires 6 to 8 payment applications. We try to keep these frequent enough so they reflect your contractor's progress but not so often that they take up all your time!
The Bolster Guarantee
What happens if my project takes longer than scheduled?
If your project schedule is extended due to events outside of your contractor’s control then they will raise a time-only change order with you (construction is fraught with all sorts of external issues outside of everyone’s control and so this is the correct way to handle this scenario).
If however your contractor is not marshaling the necessary resources and your project is getting delayed unnecessarily, then you can make a claim against the Bolster Home Renovation Bond and our surety will lean on the contractor or replace them with another and cover the cost to complete.
How does the Bolster Guarantee work with change orders?
If you decide to make a design change during your project, the coverage afforded to your project via the Bolster Guarantee will increase or decrease accordingly. If you or your contractor discover an unforeseen hidden defect (e.g. during demolition you discover a gas pipe you didn't know was there) then your contractor will submit a change order to you through our website. The Bolster Guarantee does prevent your contractor from raising any unjustified change orders.
If a Bolster Contractor defaults in any way, how much money (or what) do the insurers give us?
If your contractor is in material breach of contract and you cannot remedy it with them directly, then you can make a claim against the Bolster Home Renovation Bond. If Bolster's surety partner is unable to remedy the matter with your existing contractor, they can choose to have another Bolster-approved contractor complete your project or provide you with a lump sum payment directly. In both cases the total amount available to you is up to the total amount of your contract sum.
Why is Bolster not liable if the contractor is in material breach?
If your contractor fails to deliver your renovation project according to the terms of your project contract, Bolster itself is not liable, but rather our insurers (NFP and CapSpeciality) are. Bolster has made this financial guarantee possible and interfaces with the insurer on your behalf to make the claims process both possible and easy.
Your terms and conditions state "no design work" but technically my Bolster Contractor is designing my kitchen and bathroom. Can you please clarify?
The Bolster Home Renovation Bond does not guarantee design work as it is not a tangible work product (and so our insurers deem it separate from construction work). If your Bolster Professional (contractor or architect) is performing design services on your project, they will sign a Bolster-provided Design Agreement with you. Learn more about the Bolster Home Renovation Bond.
What happens if I change my mind about something on my project?
If you, for instance, change your mind about the type of tile you want, or your contractor discovers an unforeseen issue and needs to amend the scope of work, your contractor will issue you a change order through our website. This form dictates the change and its impact, if any, on schedule and budget and gives you time to decide the next course of action.
How did you come up with your Quality Standards?
Bolster's Quality Standards are tailored upon those established by the Long Island Builders Institute which follow existing quality standards for commercial construction projects in New York.
What does your web app do?
Our web app is set up to handle the administration of your entire project. From the presentation of design proposals and contractor bids through to contract signing, payments and change orders, our web app makes it easy to enjoy your renovation.
What is a mechanics' liens and lien waiver?
A mechanic's lien is a security interest in the title of your property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. A lien can be placed against your home in the event a general contractor, subcontractor or supplier is not paid for the goods and services they have delivered to your project. Lien wavers are obtained from your general contractor and their subcontractors for every payment you make on your project. This in effect removes their right to place a lien against your home upon receiving payment. The Bolster Home Renovation Bond also removes the risk of liens by guaranteeing your General Contractor will pay all subcontractors and suppliers and paying to offset any liens. Read Steven’s cautionary tale on this very subject.
What does "substantial completion" mean?
This is the stage in the progress of your project when the work is sufficiently complete in accordance with the Project Contract so that you can occupy or utilize the work for its intended use (so basically everything is complete except for small punch-list items).