Know Your Contractor

Quick Info

Custom tile, bath, and kitchen projects is the specialty — anything from a straightforward tub surround or kitchen backsplash to a whole new custom bathroom or custom kitchen from the studs up. Handling any needed carpentry, drywall, drain-side plumbing, or finishing trim work personally is the value added.

Other reno contractors sub out work. With me, you deal with the person who actually does all the actual day-to-day work on your project.

Also sometimes available for general household repairs/improvements needing tile, drywall, carpentry, basic electrical or plumbing, or other diverse home repair skills and experience.

Quick Bio

Started out with practicing tile install and other bathroom renovation, kitchen renovation, and whole house renovation general trade skills part-time while teaching full-time Texas Tech. After years of helping Lubbock friends and then friends of friends with home renovation projects as a hobby, I finally decided to make the reno ‘hobby’ a full-time vocation in Austin.

Formal degrees in chemical engineering, biochemistry, and technical writing. Practical experience in all aspects of home reno and repair.

Every job comes with a fixed labor cost and no up-front labor charges, with 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

If you’re looking for someone who can offer advice with humor and options with clarity, then just give me a call for a consult!

Full Explanation: A Different Approach

Normally, you have three choices when it comes to renovation projects — either hire a general contractor to oversee everything, hire a bunch of individual contractors (demo, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, drywall, tile, trim carpentry, paint, etc etc etc) and manage them all yourself, or DIY it all.

Hiring a general contractor is the retail approach. It adds ~30% to the cost of your project for the convenience of someone else managing most all of the project details for you. The upside is, obviously, not having to deal with everything yourself. The downside? That’s a big chunk of extra cash added to a bathroom or kitchen renovation cost.

Hiring your own individual contractors (basically, being your own general) is the wholesale approach. It could potentially save up to a third of your budget, which is a nice upside. But finding (and scheduling) just one good subcontractor can be difficult. Multiply that by three (or more for a complex reno project), and you really run the risk of a bad sub screwing up your overall renovation project. That’s the downside.

Doing all the work yourself is, of course, the (maybe) lowest cost option for a reno project but simply isn’t realistic for most folks. Installing tile, for example, isn’t rocket science but does take skill and practice.

The Benefits: Peace of Mind

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My QC Expert!

I offer the best of all three of these traditional options without the downsides. When you hire me for a renovation project, you get a single contractor who actually does all of the work himself. And, you get the benefit of working with someone who started out as a DIY homeowner. The result is peace of mind knowing that each task will be done correctly (since no homeowner should live with cut corners) and the convenience of coordinating with just one contractor — me.

And, if you’d like to do any of the reno project steps yourself? No problem, have at it! I’m happy to offer tips, advice, or backup if you get in too deep. I’m also happy to supervise plumbing and/or electrical subs for fully permitted renovation projects requiring Austin city inspections.

More Benefits: Shared Priorities

Most every traditional reno general contractor manages multiple renovation projects at once. Sometimes just a couple, sometimes half a dozen or more. That’s why coordination can be a real nightmare for them, which is a problem that gets passed on to their clients. Traditional general contractors are sometimes distracted or perhaps even downright unresponsive during (or especially near the end of) a particular reno job because they’re continually juggling priorities at multiple projects.

I only schedule one major renovation project at a time. This keeps life simple for me, and simple for my clients. It also ensures that my priorities are also my clients’ priorities. For example, want to completely finish your reno project quickly so you can enjoy the results as soon as possible? So do I, so that I can move on to my next project asap!

Most every subcontractor also juggles more than one job at a time, or is at least working for multiple general contractors at once. That’s why subs sometimes flake out for a few weeks or even disappear completely. This is even worse if they’re working for a general contractor who’s squeezing margins (which every traditional general contractor is set up to do, since every dollar of your reno budget saved on subcontracted labor is an extra dollar for them).

I only use subcontractors when necessary to meet code (licensed electrician or plumber) or to save clients’ money (pro painters who work faster than I do, for example). Also, since I’ll be the one responsible for all the subsequent project steps once the rare sub is done, I’m just as personally invested in the results as my clients are. You want reputable, capable, and effective subs working on your project? So do I, since it’ll be me who will be personally dealing with fixing any problems before the next renovation step can happen.

Finally, I started out as a DIY renovator frustrated myself with conventional general contractors and flaky subcontractors. My first major project was rehabbing a 1940s craftsman bungalow in Lubbock, TX, and then helping out an expanding list of Lubbock friends with their own rehab jobs. I learned how to do proper quality reno work myself after being super annoyed by the low quality or high cost of conventional alternatives.

That’s why I started doing my own reno projects to begin with, and that also explains my overall philosophy from then to now.

The Philosophy: Keep it Simple, Do it Right, Make it Last.

Had to make it a heading for emphasis. Literally, as a client your project becomes my project. The shortened motto is simply “be better.” Pretty straightforward.