Welcome to A-1 Builders & Adaptations Design Studio
Recognized as Bellingham’s and Whatcom County’s premier design/build contractor working towards sustainable business and construction practices, we provide a full-service approach that addresses both residential and light commercial projects. Our team is committed to outstanding workmanship, impeccable aesthetics, and green, sustainable designs.
Some houses are built to last; others are built to sell. We focus upon the former.
Since 1955 our award-winning design/build team has provided this county with a seamless approach to quality remodels and custom homes. We work hard before the project starts to make sure you are happy after the project is complete! Whether you choose a single service from the following list, or the entire seamless cluster, our attention to detail will not falter:
- A complete design service, brought to you by Adaptations Design Studio. We create as-built drawings, site plans, interior and building designs, and engineering details. We can also help you through the entire permitting process.
- ‘Pre-Remodel Condition Evaluations (PRCE)’ that insure you spend your money wisely. Simply put, if your home hasn’t had a physical in a while, this may be the appropriate time for a wellness exam!
- Specifying products and systems, such as your flooring choices, appropriate heating systems, appliances, lighting solutions, etc.
- Providing you a showroom where we can help you choose and purchase cabinets, flooring, counter tops, ceramic tile and more. Our offerings of green building materials surpass any other showroom in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
- Complete construction services for new and existing buildings, in both the residential and light commercial sectors.
- Continuous support after the project is completed, offering services like roof and gutter cleaning, power washing of other hard surfaces, and critical tasks such as maintaining caulking, flashing and painting.
If you’re new to our website and our business, know that past clients have mentioned how much they’ve learned from reading about our process prior to our first visit to your home. Get to know us and how we like to work so that when we visit with you we can focus upon you and your needs.
Our expertise includes additions, kitchens, bathrooms, master suites, garage conversions, hardscaping, landscaping, decks, second stories, whole-house remodels, basement remodels, tenant improvements, new custom homes and outstanding outdoor environments. And our remodels strive for an aesthetic tie-in to the existing home so that the changes appear to be an original portion of the structure.
Does this breadth and depth of experience mean that we only do large, high-end jobs? Not at all. Our project sizes range from $5,000 to $500,000, even smaller for repeat clients. And even though we do have a design division, not all projects even need this touch or expertise. Repairs, for example, often involve fixing something for which the design is already apparent; our job is simply to get it back to the way it used to be, only built correctly… for the long haul. Such repairs represent the bread-and-butter of our work. No, it’s not glamorous work, but what’s more intelligent and sustainable than stopping the deterioration of building materials… and the value of your investment!
And this focus upon a long lifespan for existing building materials is some of the greenest work we do! You’ll often hear folks say that a home is usually a person’s most valuable financial asset. Add to this the fact that for most people their home also represents their largest obligation in terms of resource stewardship… you are managing an enormous amount of resources. We’re property preservation specialists… ready to help you be a responsible steward of these sacred resources.
Every building project can be viewed as a three-legged stool consisting of design, construction and material selection. We provide all three of these skill sets under one roof and this represents added value worth much more than the sum of the three parts. You are buying more than a finished product; you are also buying our knowledge. Our professional input on all three legs of this stool is part of the purchase price and part of what comprises a full service, design/build company.
We can make this process as seamless as you’d like. The great majority of our work incorporates all three legs of the stool because, whether viewed from your perspective or ours, the design/build strategy is a compelling approach to a complex process. Let us show you how design/build can produce a project that is less expensive, quicker, less prone to communication errors, more seamless, and, all-in-all, less stressful.
“Our remodel with A-1 Builders and Adaptations Design Studio was a very positive experience, which is saying quite a lot given the stresses of remodels. We found Rick’s estimates to be fair, extremely detailed and most important – accurate. In fact several times, costs were less then estimated. Furthermore, their estimates with respect to length of time the project would take were right on. The crew that worked on our house was unobtrusive, respectful, and always cleaned up before leaving for the day. They were wonderful with my kids and answered many probing questions from our inquisitive five year-old. We have had several people in the trade let us know what precise, exceptional carpentry work was done on our basement. Finally, from an environmental standpoint, A-1 makes an effort to be as eco-friendly as possible which we very much appreciated.” – Teresa Thornberg
Teresa’s testimonial is one of many you’ll find scattered throughout our website (or you can find a densely packed version of testimonials right here). But wouldn’t a phone call to one of our prior clients be a more powerful tool in your search for who you will hire? We think so. But we don’t broadcast the contact information for these past clients. Instead, please send us an inquiry and ask us for our list of references.
While the design/build strategy offers a proven, logical and intelligent approach to a complex process, this isn’t sufficient to insure a responsible project, one that acknowledges and addresses the potential environmental impacts of what you do to your home or office. A responsible project implies utilizing tactics that achieve energy and resource efficiency, as well as sustainable business and building practices. This responsibility to you, your neighborhood and this community empowers us, and we hope this passion will be readily apparent.
What sets us apart from other builders?
We are remodeling specialists — it’s what we like to do! We just don’t remodel when there’s nothing new to build, like so many other builders. Our reputation to perform quality work as rapidly as possible has created a trail of happy clients… since 1955.
In order to accurately and fairly bid a remodeling project we typically perform something we call a Marathon Bid: we meet the appropriate subs at your home before we submit our price to you, thereby learning much more about your home. There’s a reason we are called a general contractor: we are generalists! Having the subs visit your home — with you present to discuss problems and solutions — before we submit our price to you, offers a level of expertise and accurate pricing inaccessible otherwise. Our construction Proposal price is therefore more realistic and extras are far less likely to occur during construction simply because we’ve minimized the chance for surprises.
Minimizing surprises is one of our major goals. In fact, we consider this an obligation. For other firms maximizing surprises is often their preferred strategy. Why? It allows them to provide a low initial price hoping such bait attracts an unwary consumer. ‘Surprises‘ during construction, the majority of which are predictable and preventable, provide them with more profitable work that drives your costs and blood pressure through your roof sheathing!
Our support for you doesn’t simply end when our last vehicle pulls away from your home. Here’s an example… years after we’re done building your project you may want to alter something else, like add an additional grab bar or modify the plumbing. Or perhaps you’re having a problem remembering how the duct work from your bathroom exhaust fan was routed to the attic. Here’s what we do to help you: just before adding insulation to your existing voids we shoot photos of them so that later you see how things are built with the drywall and insulation removed! Our clients have raved about this tool. Go here to see the result! Click on one of the red circles or yellow triangles and see what happens!
We use the Project Manager approach to orchestrate your project. Our Project Manager is your lead carpenter and project coordinator, driven to maintain the continuity of your project from start to finish. Our Project Manager has a support team behind them, including our designer. Instead of having to stop what they’re building in order to resolve a problem, our Project Manager can call upon someone else on our team to research a solution while they continue with on-site progress!
These are but a few of the unique ways in which we strive for excellence in our field. And a tough field it is! Remodeling firms, in general, have a very high failure rate and often compete with auto repair companies as the business sector most responsible for complaints with the Better Business Bureau. We, instead, have been here since 1955, have no intention to stop that clock, nor the intention to create complaints!
No matter what materials, design or strategies are used, your project will still impact your neighborhood and environment. Why not turn your home over to Whatcom County’s award-winning specialist in orchestrating construction with a small ecological footprint?
“My wife Ann and I have been customers of A-1 Builders and their sister company, Adaptations, since 1994, when they remodeled the kitchen and upstairs bathroom of our house in Sudden Valley. We were living in Hawaii, with intentions of moving here eventually, and we’d purchased the house expecting to do some renovations. But we could never have anticipated all the improvements we would need to make, or the creative possibilities that would emerge under the sage guidance of Rick Dubrow. And it is impossible to overstate how satisfied we have been with the results. Within several years of those initial projects we made additional improvements on the house almost too numerous to mention. Being over three thousand miles away could have been a nightmare. Yet we were blessed to have Rick’s imaginative insights and sensitive stewardship at this end, which enabled us to make long-distance decisions with confidence that our best interests were always the uppermost consideration. In fact the cost of the project quite often ended up less than the original estimate, and always when we came to visit we were overjoyed by the quality of the workmanship. Now that we finally moved into our house, A-1 has already done a number of jobs for us—-and we have several larger projects in the works for the spring. And now that we know most of the A-1 team personally, we can say we’ve never met a better bunch of craftspeople —- skilled, knowledgeable, courteous and concerned…” – Philip Damon
There’s a Mexican proverb we live by that says “Agreements should be clearly expressed & chocolate should be served thick.” So let’s have fun designing and building your dream, knowing that clear documents and communication are critical success factors in this process.