David and his crew members are great! We worked with David on a very big project that spanned the better part of a year. He was recommended to us by our next-door neighbor for whom he had done many large, complicated and challenging projects. Our neighbor praised his skills, flexibility and ingenuity.
We called David because our home had extensive dry rot damage, old and splitting shingles, a sketchy staircase, and old single pane windows that were rotted and leaking. In other words, our house had problems.
The biggest wrench thrown our way was by the city. They did not allow us to replace the fish-scale shingles with more cost effective shiplap (tongue and groove) siding unless we could prove that the fish-scale wasn't original. Hard to do with no photos of our 120 year old house. Unfortunately for us, one can't purchase fish-scale cedar shingles. They had to be hand-milled. But David and his buddy Rob did an expert job individually milling a thousand or more shingles and precisely matched the old, damaged shingles we had. They installed them carefully and with machine-like precision. Along the way, they also cleaned up or replaced a lot of the surrounding trim which had either rotted or split over the years. They sealed up every last corner and crevice of our house so it is now perfectly waterproof for the next century.
The next major project was the exterior stairs. The previous stairs were rotted, rusting and unstable. David worked very closely with our architect to construct the tricky design he created. Dave also built up a few retaining walls (one of which holds up a corner of our home) and poured some foundational slabs for the stairs. Dave's wife, Valerie also did a superb job repainting the exterior of our house and windows.
The stairs required a permit. Our plan was fairly unconventional due to limited space and this required some major sweet talking on David's part. The building and planning departments and the inspector gave us a lot of grief and without David's ability to persuade and cajole, it's hard to imagine how we would've ever pulled the project off.
I could go on about our project but, suffice it to say, it wasn't straight forward or easy. David's broad skill and decades of experience were fully utilized.
The main qualities that stood out to me were:
1. Drive for perfection. Dave is a true craftsman. He cared deeply about doing quality work that will stand the test of time. He gets good materials and is careful and deliberate in how he shapes them. Everything he does looks handmade rather than thrown together on the cheap. My architect and our friends who know a thing or two about construction praise his craftsmanship. Not to mention just about every person who walks down our street is taking a photo of our house now. What's more, he only brings in people who share his values.
2. Creativity, open-mindedness and communication. David is always willing to listen to my ideas (most of which are dumb) and to make sure I'm happy and well informed. When unanticipated snags come up, David is quick on his feet and devises workable alternatives. He explained every aspect of the work to me in great detail. I learned so much in the process and always felt comfortable that everything being done was important for the long term quality of our home.
3. Personality. David is a good-hearted, honest, funny and positive person. You wind up spending a lot of time with your contractor. It's important that you enjoy who you're working with.