How did you get started doing this type of work?
I was hired as a laborer for a master carpenter in 1993. He trained me to do windows and doors, trim, and cabinetry. After seeing how I picked up the work, he hired two more laborers, set me up with tools, and started sending me to jobsites with my own helper. I worked with many different tradespeople over the years and learned about many different things. I attended Virginia Tech and got a degree in engineering. That's where I learned about electrical work. I moved to Indiana for a job, got laid off after a couple of years and didn't feel like leaving the area, so I started my own construction business in 2003. Since then we have been constantly expanding to offer more products and services to meet our customer's needs.
What types of customers have you worked with?
We really don't have a most common type of job because we can do almost anything. Visit our website nickscustomconstruction.com to see all of the services we offer. Much of our business is generated by word of mouth, so frequently we get stuck in a rut of doing the same type of job for a while.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
One of our long-time customers lives in a historic (1929) home in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis. Their home has the original large ornate leaded glass casement windows (like stained glass but clear) in steel frames. Needless to say, after over 80 years, the steel frames were in rough shape and the drafts and condensation were terrible! They wanted to keep the exterior appearance of their home but stop the drafts and improve the heating efficiency of their home. I recommended a new product called the Gold Series Insider storm window which mounts inside the window jambs to create a large pocket of trapped air (great insulation) between the two windows. Their main concern was that the window be unobtrusive to the style of the interior of their historic home. I recommended refinishing the rusted steel frames to match the color of the storm windows to help everything blend and explained that it was a LOT of tedious, time consuming work. They agreed and also asked us to sand down and refinish all of the mahogany trim and window sills. We agreed to a timetable started working. It took us about a week and a half of refinishing work before we got to the point of installing anything. The homeowner would go through and inspect after we left every evening and tell us in the morning how good everything was looking. Then I got a phone call at home one night and he told me that his wife was concerned that we would not be able to meet our deadline since we hadn't started installing any windows and wanted to stress the importance of being finished and cleaned up before their family came into town. I informed him that all but two windows on the main floor of their home had been installed during the two previous work days. He stated that he had walked around and looked and didn't see any at all. I asked him to check again while I was on the phone and after a couple of moments heard a slight gasp. He then thanked me for our exceptional work and seamless integration of the product into their home and couldn't wait to see them all done. We are very impressed with the performance of this product.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Check references, shop around, and hire the person you find to be the most knowledgeable about their trade. If they just give you the answers they know you want to hear, and don't tell you anything you don't already know, they aren't the right contractor to hire.