The house he'll build's the one you dream of.
If you haven't figured out by now that Erik walks on water, then I haven't given him his due in this journal.
He's just a nice guy. He likes to work, he likes to make people happy, he wants a fair price for fair labor, but isn't greedy. He's been in the business since he was a child (his father started the business) and he has contacts throughout the industry who are as tried and true as he is. If a subcontractor doesn't play ball by reasonable rules, then Erik deals with it quietly -- completely protecting his client -- and then never does business with that contractor again. He and his brothers will tell you that, next to the physical nature of the work and the stress relief it provides, the part of the job they like best is the pleasure on the face of a happy customer when they hand over the keys. They are quite aware, and will say it bluntly, that they don't build houses, they serve people and their dreams. They consider it fulfilling work.
Ok, so he's a nice guy. Where does the walking on water come in?
How about keeping our budget sacrosanct? How about charging an overhead easily 3 points under other GCs? How about figuring out how to give me an outside spigot on our balcony even though it is surrounded by a chimney and all outside walls? How about figuring out how to give me a three-sided shower system, even though I only have half of an interior wall to work with? How about figuring out how to install direct plumbing/waste channels for the 3 CatGenie units I intend to install? Even the company (Petnovations) is excited about that one. Mind you, his subcontractors keep muttering about impossible challenges, but Erik thinks they like doing something different than the same old same-old. And they sure beam when they figure it out.
[If you have cats and don't know about CatGenie, go to http://www.catgenie.com - and yes, I tried to make this a hotlink; yes, I followed the FAQ; but I'm telling you, LJ doesn't like me.]
This guy is a genius. He has made quite a few suggestions on how to improve our design. I have yet to disagree with one of them. I have yet to be less than enthused with any of them. Erik tells me his secret is that he listens. He can talk your ear off swapping stories -- it's quite interesting to watch Erik and Clif play off one another -- but despite all the chit chat, he listens. He's a fair reader of character and what it is a client really wants, whether the client can express it well or not.
Thinking of building a house? Got a remodeling project? A large fix-it project? Live in SE Michigan? Call Erik. Look up Ib V. Jensen and Sons. You'll thank me.
Oh, and give him water. He'll thank you.
or Is the glass half empty or half full?
Nothing is happening.
We go out to see the house. It looks just the same. The WOW effect of the rough-in is over and done. No new jolts. Ok, the basement concrete floor is poured -- and smoother than any I've ever seen. Yeah, we have a temporary staircase joining the two floors, now. Oh, and the windows went in. I did see that.
In fact, loads is happening. We just have to look for it, now.
This isn't the jaw-drop phase. This is the Easter Egg Hunt phase. What's going on is what Erik calls "the mechanicals." The plumber has done all the rough-in valve work (we walked through the house with him to discuss where fixtures would go, then came back so he could adjust the shower valves to our respective heights.) The geothermal system is partially in; the loop is in the ground and the furnace stands in our basement; the rest will follow soon. The master shower is all prepped (Erik and I agreed to put in two fake walls insulation-width in front of the outside walls for the shower plumbing.) The fireplaces are installed; no mantels etc, but the units are in and ready to function. The laundry bath/shower unit is installed.
In it's own way, this is a fun phase, as well -- we make it a game to see who can spot the most "new" each visit.
I realize this is how most projects go, that this non-progress progress is normal. I can't help but notice, however, that Erik has given me lots of decision-making homework during this phase. Somehow, I don't think that's entirely coincidental. (I told you he was good.)
What's not done? Unfortunately a lot of things that are out of our control.
The gas company has dug a bit of trenching, but we have no idea when the pipe will be laid. The electric company hasn't even scheduled us, yet -- they'll always get back to us in "about 4 weeks." This last is a bummer, because Erik's estimate for utilities assumed that by now we'd have electricity to replace the gas-fueled generator, and to pump water instead of renting the port-a-john. It's one of the reasons our site costs are so off-budget.
And the next big steps depend on an inspection which is normally performed after the electric is in. Erik is going to have the guys start on the siding, next, while he schmoozes his friends at County to see what he can shake loose. I think he'll wrangle a few miracles out of his back pocket -- the County folks like him.
Did I mention? Erik is good.