ME, MYSELF, AND I
I started my company 23 years ago. I have intentionally kept it small - just me and my subcontractors. I'm not interested in having a big business. I'm a craftsman. I'm interested in my client - in providing a personal business relationship with them. You can't have that when you shuffle clients between a salesperson, estimator, project manager, lead carpenter, workers, and another bunch of subcontractors. My clients really appreciate how easy I am to work with. I'll meet them on day one, and on the last day, I'm cleaning and packing up my tools.
I'm different than other contractors, also, in that I usually work on just one job at a time. It's more efficient for me and my clients have peace of mind knowing that I'm not gone for days at another job.
The reason I do what I do is that I have a passion for doing a project with my own hands. I have a hard time leaving at the end of the day because I'm having too much fun! At the end of it, I always have to stand back and admire my work (okay, I do it during the job, too)! Cutting corners is not an option for me. As a result, I rarely have to go back to fix something. My clients are
thrilled with the results and over the years, I often go back to do more work.
For more detailed information, read on.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM CRAFTSMAN'S TOUCH
To most people, remodeling is a voyage into the unknown. There are uncertainties in how the process works, what the finished project will look like, if your expectations will be met in the functionality of the change, or if there will be lingering problems afterward that the contractor won’t attend to. There is also the question of trusting people with your home and belongings. And many have heard horror stories or experienced them themselves.
Any type of remodeling work on your home – large or small – is important to you. You’re spending your hard-earned dollars on a project to maintain your home or modify it to fit your lifestyle. And in the end, it adds to the value of your house. This letter is meant to help you understand the construction process, how it may affect your lifestyle, and how I manage my projects.
KEEPING THE PLATES SPINNING
As a remodeling contractor, I provide complete service from beginning to end. We will discuss your project, your needs, your desires, your apprehensions, and what you want the final result to be. Sometimes clients aren’t sure of the process and so I steer them in the direction that makes the most sense for them and is the best value for their money.
Most of my work is in interior remodeling, mainly kitchens, bathrooms, and finishing basements. I also install crown moulding, replace stair railings, and install wainscot paneling. Exterior work includes building decks and replacing windows, doors, and rotted siding. I usually do the spatial design work for basements and bathrooms myself.
I do the demolition work, framing, finish carpentry, sheetrocking, taping, painting, install cabinets, and tiling. I do not do plumbing or electrical work because I’m not licensed to do so. I have my own subcontractors that have been working with me for many years, some since I started my business. These include my electrician, plumber, heating contractor, and insulator. For large jobs I will use my drywaller, taper, tile setter, painter and others. I use them because they share my standards of high quality workmanship and respect for your home and are fun and easy to work with.
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD!
I can draw up plans for the project, if needed, and may have to charge for them, depending on the project. With the information I gather, I find out what my subcontractors’ and my costs are. I write up a “Proposal” that outlines the work to be done and is easy to comprehend. Revisions may need to be made. When the “Proposal” is satisfactory, it them becomes a “Contract” and an “Acceptance” paper is signed. I then schedule your project. Many decisions involved with the project will now have to be made. I provide information as to what decisions need to be made and where to go to pick out selections such as plumbing fixtures and tile. Careful planning is what makes the project flow smoothly. What is done in the first week of construction is often dependent upon what is the last fixture going in. It is highly encouraged to make as many decisions as possible before the project starts. If you would like assistance, I can bring in an interior designer to help you in the design and selection process.
CONSTANT CHANGES (an oxymoron?)
Some projects run into some changes that are needed and / or wanted. Before going into a project, it’s better to expect that there will be some changes – no matter how well thought out and planned the project is. Usually clients say, “while you are at it ….” and add on some additional work or changes. There is also the possibility of hidden problems or fixture backorders. These changes seldom impact the flow of the project in a significant way. When scheduling a project, it is a good idea to keep in mind what events you have coming up and allow some extra time.
TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN
Being a one-man company has many advantages over larger companies. In larger companies, you might have to work with (1) a salesman, (2) an estimator, (3) a project supervisor, (4) a lead carpenter, (5) the other carpenters doing the work, and (6) many subcontractors. Any kind of communication from you has to go up and down the ladder of the bigger company, and your requests can get lost or distorted in the shuffle. You may get tired of working with so many people. While larger companies profess to have quality-oriented carpenters in their crews, there is fluidity in this labor market. You may have trainees working on your house, or a crew that doesn’t have experience communicating and working well together. Finding hardworking people who actually care about quality is hard to find in this business. More people may equal quicker work, but it certainly does not ensure quality or consistency. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
With Craftsman’s Touch, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that I am the owner and I will be the person you talk to and the same one doing the work and whose reputation is riding on the project. On larger projects, I can get assistance from other small contractors like myself, people who share my standards of high quality workmanship. A lot of clients prefer to work with a smaller company because they feel more comfortable with it.
I’M NOT CLONED, YET
There is a lot of time involved in simply managing current projects. I may be spending some time during the day to talk to subcontractors or material suppliers concerning your project and meeting with inspectors and therefore not get as much “visible” work done that day. However, this is all part of making the project flow smoothly. I’m sure you’ll think it more important to have consistency in quality of work, clear communication, and your expectations met rather than have your job rushed through.
A GUY’S GOTTA WORK
Unlike some other companies, I usually have only one job going on at a time. This allows me to stay focused, and you don’t need to worry about me being absent for days on end. However, I may need to spend some time setting up my next job or having to go back to a previous job to seal the tile, put up towel bars or cabinet knobs the previous client had not received yet, or something like that. Even though this will take up some time, chances are I am doing the very same thing with your job. When I pack up my tools to leave the job, I like to have everything done.
BEEN AROUND THE BLOCK
I’ve been in this business since 1978 when I started working summers during college framing houses. I graduated with a social work degree. While thinking about pursuing a master’s program, I always had wanted to try out cabinetmaking and I did that for a couple of years. In 1985 I moved into remodeling and in 1991 I started my own business. I enjoy working with my hands and tools, the variety of work, the day-to-day satisfaction of doing quality work, and helping people meet their needs.
CUTTING WOOD & CUTTING CORNERS
Some contractors have a mindset of cutting corners whether or not they provide the lowest price. They may use less skilled workers, purchase cheaper materials, skip certain steps or entire tasks, or rush through their project to get on to the next one or because they are losing their profit margin. A person can’t do quality work with cheap materials or cheap tools - the quality won’t show up in the finished project. I pride myself on providing the best quality of work.
Most people get irritated when they realize they’ve gotten less than they expected and paid for. Some contractors believe callbacks are part of the business. I prefer to “overbuild” my projects so I don’t have to come back to fix something. That is simply inefficient and costly for me and frustrating for the client. Therefore, I rarely have a callback. I also take the time to clean up well. Often my clients will say I clean up better than they do.
I’ve come to know there are two types of people who talk about quality – one that uses it as a marketing strategy and one who lives by it. With Craftsman’s Touch, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that when your job is completed, you, too, will be proud of your project and you won’t have any lingering problems that keep you from enjoying your newly remodeled living space. I’m looking forward to servicing your needs and having an enjoyable time working with you on making your dream project come true.