Published: Mar 20, 2012 05:20 PM
Modified: Mar 20, 2012 05:22 PM
Just call us handles it all
Longtime homebuilders branch out into remodeling
Gail Crabtree and Rama Mills have more than 25 years experience building homes in the Triangle as G. Crabtree Home Building. Just a few places you can find their work in the Triangle: Winmore in Carrboro, Downing Creek in Chapel Hill, Ridge Springs and Valley Meadow in northern Chatham County, and Northgate Park and Trinity Park of Durham. For the past year the duo has begun a new venture, remodeling homes. As a matter of fact, the long-time members of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties (HBADOC) are the newest members of the organizations Remodelers Council. They market their remodeling business as Just Call Us which neighbors and former clients have been doing for years anyway, seeking assistance with remodeling projects.Most small builders are in the renovating, remodeling and repair business, Crabtree said. We were always too busy with new homes to take on remodeling work. We put it off and had no idea we would love it. What the partners say they like is the diversity and quick turn-around. When compared to the nine months to a year it takes to build a new home, most small remodeling projects are finished in three weeks or less, Crabtree said. Every project is different, Mills said. We move through them very quickly, then were doing something else fresh. And we are meeting new people all the time neighbors and friends of former clients whove seen our work and can now call on us to help them with a project theyve always been wanting to do, Crabtree said.The burst housing bubble and new mortgage regulations have required a decrease in the number of speculative houses built and an increase in the custom home and remodeling services offered. Real estate agents encourage home inspections before a house is put on the market so that any problems can be addressed before potential buyers walk in the door. This also provides business for home builders turned remodelers. The inspector typically has a list of little things that need repaired, Crabtree said. We do the work to make the house ready to put on market. We are not so overwhelmed by a checklist of things to fix as most homeowners are.In addition to their own talents, Crabtree and Mills, can also call on some of the finest subcontractors in the area who have worked with them when building new homes. For example, Dr. Ann Brown, an endocrinologist at Duke University, has lived in a Gail Crabtree home for the past 18 years. She says the homes Gail and Rama built in her neighborhood have always stood up well. Recently, Brown wanted the lattice replaced on the outside of her home, tile installed in her bath and Marmoleum flooring in her laundry. When working with Gail and Rama, it is such a relief to be able to say, Heres my list that I need and the house needs, Dr. Ann Brown said. I turn it over to them and they take care of it.They explore ways of approaching a problem with me. Then bring the people in to do the work, and they manage whatever problems the subcontractors have. Its like having the proverbial husband and give them the honey-do list, and I can trust that it will be done well, Brown said. (subhead) Morning makeoverAnother example is that of Susan and Elliott Schaffer, who moved from Philadelphia to a historic home in Trinity Park, they decided after living in the home for awhile that the high eat-on bar in the kitchen would have to be made to fit their needs. I was just going to lower the higher side, but my husband had the idea of removing the original surface and putting one surface in its place, Susan said...Susan had heard about Gails work when attending a Trinity Park Garden Club meeting. She said that she felt very comfortable working with a woman builder. I wouldnt be quite so feminist about it, Elliott said. She was very easy to work with and communicate with. The amazing thing was on the day they did the work, she came at 8:30, when she said she would, and the electricians, carpenters and granite workers came in succession and under her supervision had the job finished by noon.I was surprised. She stayed the whole time and oversaw what was going on. I think that was helpful to the process. She was cleaning up behind them (subcontractors) so there was a minimum of disruption and mess, Susan said. And the carpenter cut down the legs of the wooden bar stools, which was a task I really didnt want to have to do myself, Elliott said. During that same morning, Crabtree connected the Schaffers new dishwasher and brought in a mason to fix another problem at the back of the house. And she was able to schedule the project within a few weeks from our first call to her, Susan said. Now I just call her whenever I have little things, like securing a shaky banister, Susan said. It is nice to have one person to call.Crabtree and Mills can be reached at 919-956-5603 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To see their work, log on to www.gcrabtreehomebuilding.com/JustCallUs.html.
Sally Keeney can be reached at email@example.com or 919-932-0879.