Most of the time the way we do business becomes an automatic reaction. We don’t “think” about giving a customer our best work, we just do it. Only when we can compare ourselves to other general contractors do we get to look at the way we do things. Recently we were given a chance to do just that. We got a desperate call from good friends of ours in the beginning of this year. They need us to help finish building their 5,000+ square foot custom home that was in shambles. We hadn’t ever taken over an existing custom home from another contractor and from what they told us, this one was going to be a challenge on every level.
Before any physical building is done on a home or commercial building, a lot of information needs to be gathered, an extensive, comprehensive plan needs to be developed and a formal contract needs to be agreed upon and signed by all involved. Apparently several of those key steps had been left out in the beginning of this project. We needed to do some major backtracking in order to make any movement forward. So, we spent a few weeks making lists, contingency plans, calling sub-contractors, gathering budget numbers, physically “remodeling” parts of the home and tracking down lost material. That work left us with solid budget numbers, a plan for completion and most importantly…the truth. Our friends had been in the dark for so long about how their home was going to be finished, they were beginning to lose hope. We provided the relief they needed. Continue reading
In December of 2007 the economy in the building industry was not looking good. Many of the general contractors around us were struggling to find work or sell the houses they had just built. This custom job came to us in the middle of a rough time in our industry. We felt blessed and thankful for light in the darkening skies.
The customers came to us with a lot, a plan and some great ideas. We added our newly acquired project management skills, knowledge of the industry and some creativity. From there a great project was born.
We hired a new foundation/flatwork contractor for this job and now we consider them to be the best of our sub-contractors. Their foundation walls are flawless and completely flat which made our framing perfectly level, square and plumb without having to shim anything on this house.
In the framing process we needed to hire more help. We had the opportunity to hire a friend of ours who was out of work and needed income. He had drive and focus that improved the way we framed that house and we had fun at the same time. Continue reading
Occasionally, now that we have been designing buildings “in-house”, we get a customer who has already picked a floor plan that they like and sometimes they have already purchased a copy of that plan. That was the case with this house we built by Lake Whatcom. Our customers had a lot and a plan. The lot was steep down to the street and the plan was very cool. We wanted to make this one work.
In the beginning we knew the lot could hold some potential problems. We needed to push the house away from the steep front slope down to the street, but the house needed to be far enough away from the back of the lot to allow for a functional back yard. The other issue was sandstone. Our excavation contractor told us that there may be sandstone right under the surface of the topsoil and we might have a hard time digging an appropriate foundation. In our experience with sandstone we have seen two scenarios. One, the sandstone is a light gray/brown color and can be dug up with an excavator without many extra steps or problems. Two, the sandstone is a gray/blue color, much harder and it has to be broken up before it can be removed. The second scenario is more expensive and time consuming. Our risk here equated to potentially having to use the buffer in the budget and not being able to spend that reserve on other, important aspects of the house. Continue reading