I have a relatively simple business model that has served me well for nearly two decades.
The client/builder relationship is critical. Building or renovating can be exciting, fun and sometimes stressful. A large part of my job is to guide you each step of the way. Gayle W. stated “my husband and I were concerned about finding enough hours in the day to give the requisite attention to the construction of a new home. I quickly realized my fears were unfounded. Early on I saw that Hunter was someone I could trust and was always available.”
I want you to feel at ease with the process. If you need to call me on a Sunday night, feel free. Michelle P. whose home we built in Irving Park said “if Hunter missed my call, he would always call back within a few minutes.”
Volume compromises quality. Since I manage all jobs myself, I never have more than 3-4 projects under construction at any time.
Let’s Get Started
I believe in being an integral part of a project from conception to completion. Clients, designers and builders should collaborate from the beginning creating a true team effort. My recommendation to all clients is choose a reputable builder you trust from the beginning. Choices based on pricing alone often leads to a poor construction experience and final product.
Everyone has a budget. When I estimate a project, I tell my clients where I believe the costs will truly fall. No one likes surprises at the end. I've missed out on projects because my price was “too high,” later to hear it “ended up being realistic.”
Once a tentative budget is established, we break things down to prioritize and make informed decisions. With some items, allowances are specified. These include cabinets, counter tops, plumbing and light fixtures, hardware, flooring, moldings and tile. My philosophy is to use generous or “conservative” allowances so there are no surprises as you begin to make your selections.
We All Have Work To Do
You can expect to select many items that will be used in your home. I don’t have a showroom with tile, cabinets, carpet, hardware and fixtures. This is too limiting. What I have is a relationship with numerous suppliers throughout the area. I will arrange meetings with suppliers like Butler Lighting, Ferguson Bath/Kitchen/Lighting or Kitchen Cabinet Worx. If you don’t find what you like, we will look elsewhere. Michelle P. added “as I made selections, suppliers were not used to giving out the builder prices. Hunter would call and tell them to give me the exact figures so I could make fully informed decisions.”
Here We Go
Here come the nuts and bolts (literally). Below are a few of my practices that make your home superior:
- My carpenters are a third generation family. They’re unique in that they frame (build the bones) and trim (the part you live in), a practice atypical to the industry. This insures straight and plumb walls, flush fitting cabinets and moldings that are stable and stay intact for years. Their real secret ….. they don’t use nail guns. The family patriarch once told me “to be sure things are connected, you have to feel what the nail is hitting ... can’t do that with a nail gun.”
- When it comes to the sub-flooring during the initial phase, we prefer solid six inch wide “square edge” boards instead of plywood. It will rain before your house gets “dried in.” Plywood holds water and will swell and delaminate (buckle); not the case with solid wood. You can’t have a level finished floor with an uneven sub-floor.
- My plumbers use cast iron (not plastic) drain lines between floors to eliminate the sound of travelling waste water.
- We use galvanized tin venting lines leading away from bathroom and other exhaust fans. If the standard plastic vent lines are used, condensation pools and quickly rots the line and will leak.
- We often insulate between floors and rooms to help with sound transfer. Once the project is complete it’s too late to address this when you discover you can hear what’s going on in an adjacent room.
- Where there will be tile or stone, we will countersink your sub-floors and install lightweight concrete for a smooth, sound surface. Tile placed directly on plywood is practically guaranteed to crack.
- We recommend copper “valleys” where different sections of your roof come together. This dramatically reduces the chance of water infiltration plus adds a wonderful aesthetic enhancement to the home.
- We condition your home as finishes are installed. Changes in temperature and humidity can negatively affect moldings and other components. We want to install these components in a stable, conditioned environment.
- Finally, we use subcontractors and suppliers with whom I've had long-standing relationships; some more than 20 years. These are the folks that really build your home.
Living in your home is the only real way to inspect the work. You will find things that aren't quite right during those first several months. An initial “checked off punch list” or “walk through” isn't indicative of completion. Call me in the coming months and we will fix or make adjustments as necessary.
Time Marches On
Recently, Barbara K. in New Irving Park told me, “My friends are amazed my home was renovated over ten years ago. It feels like it did when I moved in.”
In 2002 we renovated a home for Jane P. on Lafayette Avenue, from top to bottom. Fast forward 10 years and she recently told me “I still love my house.”
That’s what I want to hear!