For many people, making a major home improvement such as finishing a basement, renovating a kitchen, or redoing a bathroom is a once-in-a-lifetime project. And one of the hardest things to do is to figure out how to find the right contractor for the job.
On the flip side, while contractors do these types of projects every day, the day-to-day demands of running a business, including estimating, invoicing, scheduling and more, limits the amount of time that they can actually be on the job improving people’s homes.
What is really needed is a company that can span these two worlds, bringing homeowners and contractors together in an easy, collaborative process that leaves both parties happy with the end product. And that’s where Scopewell LLC comes in.
“I was building homes in the mid-2000s and was hiring a lot of contractors and subcontractors,” explained Jack Giacobbi, who started Scopewell in 2014. “Most were good at their trade, but they had never been trained to run a business, and many were living from job to job.
“A lot of the bad reputation that plagues home improvement contractors isn’t because they’re evil, but because they get in over their heads and don’t realize it until it’s too late,” he continued. “I wanted to start a home improvement sales agency where we could bring homeowners and contractors together.”
By acting as a liaison, Scopewell is able to scope out the project—hence the name—as well as handle all of the estimating, contracts and paperwork, while holding homeowners’ money in escrow until the work is complete.
“This gives the homeowner leverage,” said Giacobbi. “In the usual model of home improvement, the homeowner gets recommendations, talks to three to five people (assuming they show up), signs a contract—written by the contractor’s attorney—and then puts down a deposit. If the contractor doesn’t perform as expected, the homeowner is out of luck.
“This is exactly the opposite of commercial construction, where specs are sent out to bid to responsible contractors who are chosen based on a combination of price, performance, reputation and availability,” he added. “When they finish a portion of the work, they submit for payment and after the work passes inspection, they get paid. This is how it should be—who wants to pay in advance when you don’t know what to expect?”
By vetting its contractors and ensuring that the money isn’t released until the work is approved, Scopewell provides a better value to homeowners. The company is paid a commission by the contractor, which because of efficiency and specialization, is less than the cost of the contractor providing those services himself. Scopewell’s contracts provide for start and completion dates and escalating penalties for late performance, which maximizes the chances that the contractor will perform on time and as promised.
Areas of Specialization
Scopewell specializes in bathroom, kitchen and basement makeovers, and takes them ‘From Concept to Masterpiece.’
“From the very start, we work with the client to find out exactly what they want,” said Giacobbi. “While most people only do a project like this once in their lives, we do them every day, so there are often a lot of issues that they haven’t thought about.”
Once they settle on a design, Scopewell provides a budget, which they guarantee within 8 percent.
“With so many design considerations and selections to make, it is fairly impossible to price a project to the penny,” said Giacobbi. “What we can do is develop a realistic budget together, based on their priorities, in one sitting.
“Once the budget is accepted, the process of detailed design work, final measurements, materials selection, contractor assignments, ordering and scheduling are worked out,” he continued. “It’s a very orderly process for what can be a very disorderly undertaking.”
This year, Scopewell has expanded into new areas, including becoming an authorized dealer for Total Basement Finishing, and the Pittsburgh area dealer for Nobilia cabinets.
Total Basement Finishing is a supplier of mold-proof and mold-resistant products designed specifically for below-grade environments. “Basements are generally cooler and therefore more prone to high relative humidity and mold,” said Giacobbi. “We’ve all smelled a musty basement.”
Before beginning a basement project, the customer is sent an information packet explaining basement finishing and what this unique environment requires. “We then do a walk-through to discuss their objectives in order to ensure that the finished product is equal to the upstairs spaces,” said Giacobbi, adding that the company also provides a 50-year guarantee that the walls will remain mold-free, even after a flood.
“Nobilia is probably the largest cabinet manufacturer in the world, producing about 33,000 cabinets a day,” said Giacobbi of the company’s other new venture. “Their cabinets are very popular in coastal areas, as well as with millennials and other clients who prefer a more clean, functional, well-designed look, with affordable quality built to last.
“These cabinets are very space efficient, which may be the result of space being at more of a premium in other countries,” he added. “They are very intelligently thought out. Because of this, they are also a practical choice for DIYers.”
Scopewell even has a training kitchen in progress to show both professional tradesmen and DIYers how to install the cabinets.
Whether remodeling a bathroom, basement or kitchen, or providing unique European cabinets, what’s most important to Giacobbi is customer satisfaction.
“From the outset, I wanted to create a business that provides the greatest level of success possible for both homeowners and contractors,” said Giacobbi. “With the shortage of qualified contractors today, it’s more important now than ever.”
To learn more, visit www.scopewell.com, call 412-446-8107 or visit the showroom at
1161 Pittsburgh Road, Valencia, PA.