Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Building Responsibly

Given that we’ve been doing this since 1955, our construction experience spans a wide spectrum of residential and light commercial projects.  Spend some time in the gallery section of our website in order to grasp the diversity of our skill sets.  And know that we’ve also designed the great majority of what you see there!

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We designed and built this custom home in 2004 with Rastra blocks, which contain 85% post-consumer, recycled polystyrene for the exterior walls.

Our specialty resides in altering existing structures and this remodeling work falls within two broad arenas… improvements and repairs.  Oftentimes a repair project doesn’t need much research or design.  There may be some readily apparent wet rot so the project is simply to rid the cause and its affect.  And typically the cause is missing or poorly applied flashing.  Simply put, most builders are ignorant of the ins and outs about flashing.  Though inexpensive and easy to install when first built, missing or poorly installed flashing creates unintended problems the likes of which you don’t want to see in your home. And we want to help you prevent this….. not only by properly training our carpenters to build things correctly the first time, but also by catching such issues early on.

Some of the new custom homes we’ve built actually began by exploring the feasibility and practicality of remodeling an existing structure.  They obviously proved impractical because, instead, we tore down the existing structure and built our clients a new home! Sometimes the right thing to do is to responsibly deconstruct what’s there and replace it with a small, energy efficient home.  Been there; done that!

You’ll also see a diversity of light commercial projects which are often referred to as tenant improvements, or TI’s.  To name a few we have:

1. Transformed an older home into a mental health counseling center in the Lettered Street neighborhood
2.  Created a medical office by altering and expanding an older structure on F Street
3.  Built The Chicken House  in the Bellis Fair food court
4.  Retrofitted Village Books to make it seismically safer when they were housed in their older brick building
5. Remodeled Tony’s Coffee, Kulshan Cycle, The Temple Bar, A.A. Anderson and Co., Value Village, Brett & Daugert Attorneys, Chang & Boos Attorneys

Joseph Lstiburek (Building Science Corporation;  www.buildingscience.com), a nationally renowned building scientist, has this to say about building structures that last…

“People ask builders all the time, “Why can’t you build homes the way you used to?” Builders can’t help but notice that callbacks and warranty claim costs are rising more rapidly than they did in the past.  Were homes built better than we build today?  Have we forgotten all we learned about quality and durability? Many of the homes of yesterday do perform better than homes built today but not for the reasons most people think.”

What, then, are these reasons?  Please read  Joseph Lstiburek’s answer – it’s very important for you to read and understand.

Savvy consumers understand that low price doesn’t incorporate best construction practices; they are mutually exclusive.  Isn’t this why, when a price seems too good to be true, it usually is? Chances are you’re not in the construction industry, so we think it’s worth your time to understand the true cost of a low price.  How else will you know if we’re worth the extra cost to do things right the first time. Here’s an excellent short piece on the value of best practices.

Water infiltration into exterior walls — and its resulting damage — is so rampant that we feel compelled to educate you; to help you prevent this.  We’re all pretty familiar with a leaking roof  because these symptoms are hard to avoid… stains on the ceiling; dripping water; mushy drywall.  Exterior wall damage, however, tends to remain more subtle and most property owners simply wait too long before they take action. Allow us to help you know what to look for and what to do when your level of concern raises to the point of action!  

Please read the following reviews of two past repair projects; both are loaded with important information you need to understand:

      1. Flashing, Anyone? PLEASE Pay Attention to Yours…
      2. Significant Damage Results From Substandard Waterproofing in Exterior Walls

Our point is this: whether or not you hire us, it’s critically important that your contractor understand building science.  Perhaps we’ve already hammered this home!  Here is one more important read about the importance of your exterior walls and their ability to accept, and then expel, incoming water.

Project Manager Shawn Serdahl on the last day of a kitchen remodel in June of 2013. Not hard to see the pride in his eyes!

Project Manager Shawn Serdahl on the last day of a kitchen remodel in June of 2013. Not hard to see the pride in his eyes! Now, as our Production Manager, his smile has not changed

Undoubtedly you’re loaded with questions about the actual construction phase of your project.  Common questions include:

‘How can I create a makeshift kitchen in my home while you gut my existing kitchen?
        ‘Will my piano survive the drywall dust if I wrap it in plastic?’
‘What do I do about the possible asbestos in my cottage-cheese ceiling texture?’
        ‘How long will this project take to complete once demolition starts?’
‘Can I hire the RE Store to do the initial salvage and deconstruction phase?’
        ‘What about my pets — what can be done to minimize the stress on them?’
‘Can I live here while you do your magic?
        ‘How do you do progress payments?’
‘I have asthma.  Will this project upset my health?’

Yes, your questions are as countless as the choices and decisions we’ll help you make.  Which is the very reason we choose to house all three legs of the stool under one roof — designers and builders happily huddled within a showroom environment!  We’ll answer all of your questions and concerns as they relate to your specific project, your specific family members or co-workers, your specific health issues, your specific financial situation.  Bring ’em on…

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  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 we shoot photos of the exterior wall voids so that later you can see how things are built with the drywall and insulation removed!  Our clients have raved about this tool. Click on one of the red circles or yellow triangles and see what happens!

It’s no surprise that most every remodeling project begins by creating a mountain of debris. Clients are usually surprised by the mass… and the mess… even when the project is rather small.  Can we deal with this mess responsibly?  Doesn’t minimizing the ecological footprint of our DEconstruction make as much sense as focusing upon the footprint of our CONstruction?  You bet.  And it’s quite a story… what a mess

‘Some homes are built to sell; others are built to last.’ Although we don’t know the author of this quotation, we do know that our workmanship achieves the latter quality point.  We are driven to design and build things to last.  This takes time, intelligence, education, experience, wisdom and money.  Your job is to bring forth the dough; our job is to bring forth the rest of this tool kit.

Together we’ll build your structure to last.

Finished

Here’s the downtown Community Food Coop’s bicycle shelter we refer to as their ‘Bikeport’. When we celebrated our company’s 50th anniversary in 2005 we wanted to do something to thank our community for helping us thrive… so we donated nearly all the labor and materials for its design and construction! The structure has since moved behind their bakery building on Holly Street.

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