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Highl[e]y recommended

Listed below are people and companies who’ve played a critical role in our ongoing renovation project and who’s services and expertise we can recommend:

Realtor:

Carol Green, Carol Green Properties, Hillsborough, NC

There’s no doubt in my mind that we would not be living in William Reed’s Ordinary if it weren’t for Carol Green’s unwavering commitment to putting us in a house we love.  It always felt as though Carol was fighting for us, whether she was negotiating a sales price or badgering a sluggish loan officer.  She responded to e-mails and calls within minutes, tutored us on the minutiae of real estate transactions, and made a generally unpleasant process tolerable, sometimes even fun.  Carol is plugged into the Hillsborough community and was introducing us to the mayor within a few weeks of move-in.  Her service didn’t end after the sale: she stays in touch regularly and has been a great source of advice and encouragement as we get settled in to our new home.

Painter:

Philip Hansell, Hansell Painting Company, Durham, NC

Painters are a dime a dozen, but good ones are rare. Philip Hansell is an exception. Don’t call him if you’re looking for the low bid; you won’t get it. Hansell will charge you what it takes to do a good job, and then will follow through on that promise. Philip is a laid-back guy and communicates well, staying in touch with updates via phone and text throughout the job. He understands the science of paint and always had well-informed responses to my incessant questioning. Philip invests in quality equipment, and was the only painter I could find that had the ability to safely sand our old lead paint-infused clapboards. He followed the EPA’s lead laws to a T, and kept a clean job site despite the mountains of paint chips they scraped off the house. Every day the workers stacked their ladders, neatly bagged any trash, and consolidated their tools. The crew ranged between 2 and 8 guys depending on the phase of the job, and they were willing to work most weekends. My only quibble is that the attention to detail seemed to trail off right at the end of the job. It took several rounds of “punch lists” to satisfy me that we’d gotten our money’s worth. Otherwise, it was a pleasure to work with these guys.

Gutter Installer:

Wilbur Collins, Collins Roofing and Guttering, Hillsborough, NC

A stroke of bad luck almost soured my opinion of Wilbur for good: his guys started installing our gutters right before Christmas and then left for a week’s vacation without installing a downspout on one section of the roof. A monsoon rain blew through, and the gutter spilled an ocean of water on the edge of the roof, ruining a section of back porch ceiling. Wilbur came out on his vacation to install a temporary diverter, and checked during another rain to verify that the roof wasn’t leaking. He threw in some extra downspouts for free to make up for the mistake.  It was a freak rain, and an unlikely leak, so the incident was frustrating for both of us. Other than that incident, Wilbur did a good job. His estimate was next-day fast, and he stayed in touch regularly to monitor the progress of our painters. I challenged him to install gutters in a way that he hadn’t before, and he pulled off the detail as well as could be expected. Most companies that install half-round gutters order them in pieces, assembling them to create long runs. Wilbur has them rolled in seamless sections, a huge plus for leak-proof longevity. I wish the job site had been kept cleaner; there were a few drink bottles and candy wrappers left strewn about. But at the end of the day, we got a satisfactory install of some nice looking gutters.

Electrician:

Mike Parker, Mike Parker Electrical, Inc., Hillsborough, NC

I had a good feeling about Mike from the get-go. He did something that hardly anybody does anymore: he thanked me for hiring him, and said it like he meant it. Even in the South, that simple pleasantry tends to get overlooked in the everyday hustle. Mike’s a smart dude who dropped out of the rat race to pull wires for a living. And he pulls them very well. The county inspector stopped to admire how neat our new service connection was. He’s one of the few tradesmen I’ve hired that I didn’t feel like I had to watch like a hawk. Mike’s price was middle of the road and fair.  He’s a one man operation, so his scheduling is fairly flexible – he was always able to sneak us in around his other jobs. One gripe: Mike stuck me with responsibility of meeting the inspectors. I’m not sure if this is because he knew I knew what I was doing, but it’d be intimidating for someone outside the construction industry.  Plus, it wasn’t my work being inspected. Nevertheless, until I’m given a good reason to feel otherwise, I consider Mike our electrician and recommend him without hesitation.

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