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Who Are You?

We are a small group of highly skilled craftsmen dedicated to creating high quality, custom homes, renovations and additions. With years of experience along the Main Line, our team members and associates have worked on many projects from small renovations to the construction of 10,000+ square-foot, multi-million dollar estates.

Known for their ability to take on difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible jobs and come out on top, our team members routinely undertake jobs that others avoid.  We have handled projects ranging from digging a full basement under an existing home to rebuilding an entire house room by room, both of which took place without displacing the clients while the work was completed.

Green building is a newer aspect of our company, but we’re taking the same drive and determination we put into every job and focusing it on the idea of creating environmentally friendly and efficient houses.  When it any aspect of our business, we’re constantly working to improve our practices and to maintain our education. Our principals are Green Advantage Certified for residential construction, and are working towards LEED accreditation and certification in Geothermal Heating System design and installation.

Each of our team members brings their own background, experience and perspective to every job.  Our team members and subcontractors are chosen based upon their years of experience and the integrity with which they approach their work – without reliable people on the job, you get unreliable results.  Reliability, cleanliness, and integrity are qualities that we demand from all of our subcontractors and team members.

How Will You Handle My Project?

Our priority on any project is service.  We approach our jobs with a concierge level of service in mind – simply put, whatever a client wants done or can dream up, we do our best to make sure it happens.  We understand that the construction process can be a stressful time for a client, and we try to minimize that as much as possible – we tell clients that if they need anything done, just ask, no matter what it is.  We’re pretty easy-going guys in general, and there really isn’t much we haven’t done or won’t do. For example, when one client went on vacation mid-job, we agreed to let their dog out everyday while they were away. 

It’s that level of service we bring to every job; a lot of the time it’s just the little things that really give a client peace of mind.  We also never stop until our job is completed.  We’re not ones to throw up our hands in defeat – in fact, our guys tend to take the term “impossible” as a personal challenge, and our clients know we’ll tackle whatever they can throw at us.
           
When it comes to green building, we're applying the same drive, determination and principles. We have suppliers for most green building products and can integrate the necessary items to meet your needs. If you're having trouble finding a particular product just let us know, and we won’t stop until
we find exactly what you want.

What Exactly Is "Green Building"?

Green building in general means construction that is environmentally friendly by using nontoxic and non-hazardous materials and techniques to improve energy efficiency.  However, when the topic of green building arises in conversation, we have to bring up this caveat; the term “Green Building” doesn’t have one set definition. It can mean different things to different people.  One person might see it as using as many green products as possible in a standard size home, while another might choose to downsize a project to simply use less materials.  An actual debate I recently heard about concerned a company that was building large homes that met certain green building standards. The company was fulfilling their client’s desires for large homes while trying to make them as environmentally friendly as possible.  Green building “purists” chastised the company, claiming that the homes were automatically not green because of their size, regardless of the materials used in their construction.  There is a similar issue when it comes to materials; there is also nothing that is perfectly “green.” Take for example, the following products:

  • Bamboo flooring: typically manufactured in China, can use a lot of fuel in its trip overseas, but, on the other hand, it is a very quickly renewable resource.
  • Vinyl windows: although the vinyl itself is not a particularly green product, the windows require no maintenance in the way of paints or sealers over the life of the product, thereby reducing their overall environmental impact.

This dichotomy is present in many products in the green building industry and trying to find the “best” product on the market can really make your head spin after a while.  We don’t like to see clients turned off of green building because of this, so we advise that the only clear answer in the whole situation is to determine what makes sense to them based on their values, budget and own particular set of circumstances.  I could spend all day writing about the difficulties of choosing products, but I think it was best explained in the opening pages of the GreenSpec Directory, a listing of green building products currently on the market.

It is also critical to remember that a green building is not merely the sum of the green products included in the project.  In building a house or office building, a great many materials and products will be used.  Even in the greenest of projects it is likely that many products will be used that are not themselves green – but they are used in a manner that helps reduce the overall environmental impact of the building.  A particular window may not be green, but the way it is used maximizes collection of low winter sunlight and blocks the summer sun.  So even a relatively conventional window can help make a house green.  Creating a green building means matching the products and materials to the specific design and site to minimize the overall environmental impact.

Even the greenest products, including virtually all of those found in Greenspec, could be used in dumb ways that result in buildings that are far from environmentally responsible.  In a well-thought-out building design, however, substituting green products for conventional products can make the difference between a good building and a great one.

As mentioned above, there is no perfect solution to any green building project, but we feel as long as we’re making steps in the right direction, everyone does better in the long run.      

Does Green Building Make Sense For My Project And Budget?

Absolutely. It can make sense for every project and every budget.  While there is no one set definition of green building, and no one perfect green building material, one thing most people can agree on is that green building must make “cents”.  (I have to give credit for that “cents” line to our friend Sara Sweeney at EcoVision (www.EcoVisionLLC.com), a green building consulting firm.  It’s a great line I wish I had thought of).  Research shows that typically a green building project is very cost competitive overall with a traditional construction project, and there are ways of fitting it to most people’s budgets. Sometimes a client’s budget isn’t large enough to cover the costs of a renewable energy system (i.e. solar panels, geothermal heating systems, etc), but even taking small steps to adjust the efficiency of the building envelope can make an impact on monthly utility bills.  This saves on fuels used to heat the home, and that’s always a good thing.  Sometimes a client will realize they can be quite happy with a smaller home, thus saving on materials and utility bills in general.  The extra savings generated by reducing a building’s overall square footage could then be applied to a renewable energy system that increases monthly utility savings even more.  Green building doesn’t have to be an extravagance or an expense over and above that of traditional construction costs.  We feel our clients should be able to go green without breaking the bank, and with careful planning this can be accomplished.

As with any job, pricing is dependent upon what sort of systems or products you would like to integrate into your home. Solar panel arrays can get pricey, but again, it depends on the size of the system, and there are tax credits and rebates you can apply for to help with the costs.  There’s also a company called CitizenRe (www.citizenre.com) that will lease solar panels to homeowners; there are no upfront costs for the system, and it is installed for free.  The homeowner pays a flat rate for electric service, and you have the option to lock-in your rates at today’s prices for up to 25 years to avoid the inevitable price hikes of the standard utility companies.  There are ways to adopt green energy and techniques without making a huge upfront financial commitment.  

However, just being able to afford a renewable energy system that doesn’t mean you should necessarily get one right now.  There’s not much point in putting up an extensive solar panel array if the energy created is just going to be wasted in a leaky home that’s losing heat to begin with.  Wasted energy is still a waste no matter how it’s produced – an improperly sealed home would require a larger panel array to provide the same heat a much smaller system will handle in a efficient home, leading to a waste of materials to create the larger array in the first place.  We want our efforts to be functional and economic, not just symbolic.  Our general recommendation is to make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible before making the move to install any renewable energy system.

For this reason we’re currently working on creating a program to help homeowners find out where they have opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and lower their monthly utility bills.  This service will be available for our construction clients or to anyone who just wants an outside party’s third opinion before starting a project, regardless of whether or not we’re involved in the actual construction process itself.  If this is something you would be interested in pursuing before we have it formally listed here, please feel free to inquire about it.

What Is The Warranty?

Our standard warranty is two years top to bottom on all workmanship, parts and materials.  A typical builder’s warranty lasts for one year, but we added another year as a benefit to the client simply because we’re confident in our work.  Warranties may extend longer on certain materials such as plumbing fixtures and roofing materials depending on the manufacturer’s warranties.  There are exclusions based upon certain manufacturer’s limitations, or from normal wear and tear, but, rest assured, if there is ever problem, just one phone call to us will get the necessary repairs started.
           
In addition to our warranties, we also offer maintenance plans as part of an on-going service for those clients whose schedules are a bit too hectic to get to the routine upkeep that comes with owning a home.  Much of the time this routine maintenance can help our clients avoid costly repairs down the road.  Our experienced team members can often spot any potential issues before they become major problems.  If you are interested in this service, please let us know, and we’ll set up a plan designed specifically for your needs.

Are You Insured?

Yes, we are fully covered.  If you need to see a certificate of insurance, just give us a call, and we’ll send one out to you.

Are You Expensive?

It depends on what you consider expensive.  You can certainly save some money initially by choosing a more inexpensive contractor, but, quite frankly, you get what you pay for.  I read a great quote from John Ruskin, a 19th Century English social reformer that really captures the idea I’d like to get across:

It's unwise to pay too much, but it's unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money - That is all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.

We aren’t the most inexpensive builders around, but do you really want your home to be built by the cheapest contractor who has to use the lowest quality materials and rushes through the job in order to turn a profit?  Homes constructed in that fashion are typically thrown together in a matter of weeks.  One of our competitors advertises that they can have you in one of their new homes in less than 30 days – that’s from raw ground to finished home in a month or less.  To me, that seems to be an impossibly short timetable to erect a structure of any real quality. 

If you’re in that much of a hurry to get a new home, then we’re probably not the builders for you. We’re committed to creating quality, custom homes and additions that will stand the test of time.  We won’t just throw up cheap housing and move onto the next project – it’s not what we do. While it might make us a quick buck today, in the long run it costs us our reputation, and it costs everyone involved in terms of wasted materials, wasted resources and higher energy costs.  If that resonates with you, please click on the Contact page to get in touch with us. We'd love to take a look at your project and see how we can help.

Can I See Some Of Your Other Work?

Sure, just give us a call, and we’ll set up an appointment to show you some past projects we’ve worked on.  You can also see some of our work on the Our Homes page of this site.

Who’s The Dog?

If you see us out on site, you may also see a dog there. That’s Mark’s dog Turk, a mixed breed from the Caribbean called a Potcake.  He was adopted from the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos while Mark and his wife were on vacation.  Once they got home, he started coming to work since he was still too little to be at home all day by himself.  He’s often out on site making sure the guys’ lunch scraps don’t go to waste, but now that he’s become accustomed to luxury living in the States, he stays home when it’s too hot or too cold (he’s become quite the connoisseur of air conditioning).

The first picture here was taken when Turk first came home – his fur was a bit thin and he was still pretty tiny, so he had to wear a sweater outside.  The other pictures are of full-grown Turk sitting in the garden at home and taking his lunch break on site.

If you are interested in learning more about the Potcake breed and possible adoptions, please visit www.tcspca.tc.  For those of you who don’t want to travel so far from home to find a companion, check out www.petfinder.com, a database of humane societies, rescues and shelters.

 

 

 
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