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Home Builder reviews in Kensington

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    GSBuilders / Green Studio Builders Inc.
    One day I walked past a GS Builders sign in front of a house in our neighborhood where they were putting a second story onto a house that used to be a lot like ours. We spoke to Chris Papadopoulos, the owner and architect for GS Builders, and he explained their process. We paid less than we had previously paid an architect for one design, and received three preliminary designs. We worked with Chris for a couple of months on getting the design to a point where we really liked it while staying within our budget. The design was a collaboration in a way that it had not been with any of the other professionals with whom we worked on this project. Chris and his wife Nicoleta, who served as our project manager and interior designer, helped us to find a bank and assisted with the process of qualifying for a construction loan, without which we would not have been able to do the project. We started work on our project more than a year after our first discussion with GS Builders, in February of 2016. Although we had initially considered staying in the house during the construction, we ultimately decided against it, renting a smaller house nearby. The construction mostly went smoothly, although there were occasional blips in communication. We did appreciate that they kept surprises to a minimum. We had time to look at all the framing work including custom bay windows. It is solidly built and expertly done. While the builders were working on the house, my wife and I were working to find plumbing and lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, cabinetry and countertops, paint and flooring combinations, and roofing and siding materials. Nicoleta was a fantastic resource, helping us to find vendors and websites, working with us to figure out what we liked and how to create the new space. The tilework, painting and other finishes that the crew from GSB put together is absolutely first-rate. They worked exceptionally hard and took great pride in their craftsmanship. We moved back in almost exactly six months after we moved out. We are in love with our new house. This kind of renovation creates stress in ways that I couldn't have imagined before I went through it and I think that GS Builders could help themselves by improving their communications and planning processes. We feel lucky that we chose to work with GS Builders. If we had to do the whole thing over we would choose them again. And when we save up enough to screen in the back porch, we will go back to them without hesitation. On-Time, High-Quality, and Reasonable Cost. We got all three.
    - Aaron S.
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    Managed Renovations
    A neighbor of ours recommended Natalie and Michael from Managed Renovations for an addition to our house: a new master bedroom and en-suite bathroom which was built as the second floor of an existing addition.
    This was our first time doing a relatively major renovation and one which we had put off for a while as we were nervous about how to proceed. But working with Michael and Natalie proved to be a very good experience. They were very helpful and patient with us as we went through the various steps and stages. One of their key strengths is they have worked with various trades people and have really picked some of the most professional ones. Their approach also allowed us to be in control of the costs and the work that was being done from beginning to end. They were also excellent in helping us through the various choices and we were able to make changes in the renovation. Lastly, they were excellent with planning ahead so we knew what to expect, in particular as we were living in the house as the work was happening. We are very happy with the result and the extra space!
    - Farzin M.
  • A
    GSBuilders / Green Studio Builders Inc.
    This is a review of the design phase of our contract with GS Builders to design-build the second floor addition on our home in Kensington, MD. We tried to be as diligent as possible with our market research. We interviewed 5 other contractors for the project. Some interviews involved home visits; others included site visits to view completed work.
    Two early impressions set GS Builders apart from other contractors- 1) they are very generous with their time, and 2) they are  passionate about architecture and design. For example, all other contractors we interviewed came with a preconceived template. Each interview involved a discussion in which our ideas were either ignored or hastily re-imagined to fit inside of a generic design they already had in mind. By contrast, my wife and I were very surprised when we met with GS Builders. Chris spent over two hours one evening just listening to us describe what we wanted our house to be. Chris was genuinely excited by our concepts, and generously brainstormed with us all evening. We left that first meeting feeling like we had a partner in our project. A partner who listened to what we wanted, and then applied expertise to help us see how we could realize our vision. I cannot stress enough what a unique experience this was compared to the competition.
    So we knew we wanted to hire these guys. But we assumed the "you get what you pay for" rule would probably put them out of our  price point. Nope.They were able to come in slightly under the other guys! By much? no. If you want a huge project completed, you are going to pay within a pretty predictable price range. 

    So we hired GS Builders to design and build the second floor of our home, consisting of a master bedroom / bathroom, two additional bedrooms, one additional bath, and a remodel of our first floor dining room (plus a few other details).
    I am happy to report that the patient, personalized service has not wavered. My wife is quite particular about what she wants. Chris has met with us in person OVER TEN TIMES to date. Several of these meetings included his architecture partner Nate, and the building process has only just begun. That does not include rounds of texts, phone calls, and emails to refine and deliver my wife's wishes. Do you see what I'm saying here? This is how committed they are to getting what we want.
    As far as mechanics and logistics go, things are running smoothly. Plans were delivered on time, permits were acquired on time, construction began on schedule. The crew has extended our chimney, started on our interior work, and today they began to dismantle parts of our eve in preparation of removing our roof (I'm assuming). each day when I come home, our home is swept free of dust, and our furniture is all covered. They do a great job of leaving the home in a livable condition despite the reality that it is also an active construction zone.
    I will post another review to document the finished product and the actual construction phase. For now, I think it's clear that we are very impressed with our design-phase experience, and would recommend GS Builders without hesitation. Feel free to be in touch if you have any specific questions.

    **** Construction now complete****second half of review below****

    I'm back to finish my review of GS Builders' work on the second floor addition of our home. It's late January now, but they actually finished mid-November ahead of schedule. The sink for our master bath was out of stock at Pottery Barn, so we had to wait an additional two months for that to come in. As soon as it did, Chris and Nicoleta had someone out within two days to install it and finish the tile backsplash.

    I don't usually appreciate one-sided reviews. Pros and cons are much more useful to consumers. But I have to say, I honestly cannot come up with any substantial negatives to share about our experience with GS Builders. They gave us all the time  and iterations needed to come up with the floor plan we wanted. They guided us through the process so that our choices were achievable within the constraints of cost and building codes. They always generated interesting ideas for us to consider when we weren't sure of how to proceed. The building crew was timely, professional, and courteous. The quality of the work was always high, in fact  it exceeded our expectations. 

    the first phase of the project was heavily dominated by meetings with Chris. As construction moved toward the finishing stages (trim, fixtures, tile, etc), Nicoleta became more involved. Nicoleta is an energetic and knowledgeable collaborator. She is a designer and engineer herself, so when the project transitioned to working with her it was seamless. She and my wife worked very closely to arrive at the tile design for our two bathrooms. Typical for their company, she was very generous with her time. She knows her industry well, and she helped my wife co-design the bathrooms she envisioned. They are beautiful. The whole house is beautiful. The design makes our house look like a new building went up- Not just an addition sitting awkwardly on top of an existing structure- as you commonly see. 

    Closing thoughts.
    A big construction project is built on a thousand major and minor decisions. Making these decisions can be stressful at times. Having a team like Chris and Nicoleta to provide knowledge and patience makes all the difference. It develops trust. Sometimes decisions lead to changes that cost money. This is important, because Chris and Nicoleta were quite generous about this. Changes were always transparent, and they often made changes without charges. I've worked in construction myself, and I know how easy it is to nickle and dime clients. GS Builders does not do this. That builds trust. 

    If you are looking to have work done on your home, you'd be remiss to overlook GS Builders. We definitely recommend them!


    - Krisztina M.
  • A
    GSBuilders / Green Studio Builders Inc.
    I originally called Chris to look at the basement bathroom. He came promptly and I showed him the bathroom. He got out his tape, squared paper, and pencil and started puttering about, measuring and sketching. He went all over the basement and seemed quite unperturbed by its apparent uselessness, it's dirt, and chaos. Then he asked me: "Why do you want to do up the bathroom?" "Um, well, er" was how I began my answer. I had no idea what I really wanted, or any idea of how much things cost, or what was doable at all. And I had no idea that I had no idea. So it began.
    Chris came back time after time - to get to know me and my needs, I now realize. He thought I shouldn't just do up the bathroom with no thought to what the whole space might be used for; that it would be a complete waste of money. I realized instantly he was right. He came up with designs which he discussed at length with me. He helped me make a budget, was utterly candid about prices, including what would be included in his estimate and what I would be paying for out of pocket. He made sketches and walked me through different scenarios. He didn't hesitate to tell me what was not worth the price, what might be worth the price if I decided to go that way. I never felt my project was too small, too cheap, too boring. I never felt pushed into spending more money. I felt valued and understood.
    By this time I thought he was so exceptional that I started murmuring about problems in my ancient kitchen upstairs, and Chris told me that Elmer and Armando could do anything and that we could arrange it for them to work for me by the hour. And now I have a kitchen where everything works, including some things that never worked properly when the kitchen was put in decades ago.
    Of course I had dreaded the cleaning out of the basement, but by the time a day was fixed to start I was feeling so positive that I did not feel nearly as overwhelmed as I thought I would. And the carpenters and other builders were so polite and kind that they moved tons of stuff for me before I even started. And what an impressive team: skilled, focused, good at problem solving - like a well oiled machine but with a brain. And Chris was always there it seemed - to explain unexpected changes, the odd problem, why no-one was coming on a particular day.  Sometimes, depending on what was going on, there would be only one person there, and I could hear the steady noises, nothing rushed, and the cheerful music (never too loud) as one of the team just worked and worked. 
    Were there problems? A few. Unexpected expenses? Yes. Dust? Of course. It was a renovation - these things invariably happen. But always to know why and how, to understand  the problem  as, or even before it happens, to have it fixed... well that's what a good contractor is all about. And Chris and his team are as good as it gets.
    Not convinced yet? One evening my phone rang and it was Chris. He said he was at IKEA and that the counter top I had chosen was out of stock. I was so surprised that I could only say: "What on earth are you doing at IKEA?". Chris had actually gone to IKEA for me to buy all the kitchen cabinets and counter top and all. I had naturally assumed that I would be doing that - it had not occurred to me it that Chris might think it was his job. But that's Chris.
    Do you know what a nightmare IKEA is? 

    - Rebecca F.
  • A
    Zelaya Landscaping And Construction
    Jose did a great job on a budget.  We did a major renovation project- adding a second story- and he and his crew did a lot of the finish work for us. We wanted a particular style of trim, and his carpenters basically hand made the trim by cutting down 1 by 4s and 1 by 6s. They were able to do all the odd job finish work for us.
    - Adam D.
  • A
    Willis Builders Inc
    We met with Willis sometime in early January.  We met with several different builders for this job and found Matt to be the most personable and willing to talk through different ideas.  Our build was somewhat unique in that we already had the design in our heads, and we wanted some unique features.  Matt was extremely accommodating and interested in working with us to figure out the right way to do things.  You could tell that he was evaluating us as customers just as surely as we were evaluating him and his team, and we liked that.
    We had Leo as our Project Manager for the whole project.  Leo was incredibly professional, knowledgeable and skillful.  His abilities and work ethic set us at ease immediately.  We had a team of 3 at our house most days, all very personable and great, with that number jumping up to 4 or 5 on busy days as necessary.
    Our arrangement was for a set labor fee for the main piece of the work and hourly labor fees for any additional special features we outlined.  This setup worked well for us as we knew we would want some special "upgrades" and we'd be able to deal with that cost and hour estimates up front, or choose to forego it if we decided it was too expensive.
    All of the standard work was done extremely well.  Demolition was done quickly and cleanly.  We have a 1 year old and they were very particular to cover all vents and doorways to keep the mess in the basement.  Willis did all the electrical and plumbing in house.  In fact, the only parts of the job that were outsources were some minor brickwork (to a professional mason), the stairs, and the carpet.  Everything else was done by Willis themselves.  This was great as the same guys were at the house most days, which made us feel very comfortable.
    My wife and I made some drawings of what we wanted for our special features, and the guys used these extensively as a guide to make things the way we wanted.  The special features were:
    A secret door hidden behind a large bookshelf - all custom built on a wood door core, with hidden hinges and magnetic close.  Opens easily and holds tons of books
    A large wood bar - Willis hooked us up with Exotic Lumber in Gaithersburg and we got a massive slab of bubinga for the bar top
    A reading nook under the stairs for our kids
    A built in entertainment unit and shelves built into already existing brick.
    The secret door especially is a thing of beauty.
    All work was done extremely well.  They were very timely and very communicative at all steps of the project.  I think the biggest hurdle for large projects like this is communication.  Leo and Matt both were great about this, and it's important to remember that it's also the responsibility of the owners to make sure things get done properly.
    We had a couple of _very_ minor hurdles with communication in dealing with the subcontractors.  Specifically, the wrap around steps weren't done the way we wanted at first and the mason came about a week later than expected.  But in a large project like this, minor hiccups will happen and it was still handled very well.
    Willis made little recommendations along the way that will be helpful in the future.  Since we want to redo our kitchen in a few years, we ran additional wires over to the kitchen in preparation so we won't have to knock out the ceiling later.  We didn't want a louvered door to our furnace room, so they added a louvered vent for ventilation.  We added some outdoor outlets onto the project, which was no problem.
    I plan to use Willis again in the future for at least our kitchen and possibly a couple of other projects.  I would recommend them to anyone, especially if you have the opportunity to work with Leo.
    - Greg O.
  • A
    Prime Construction Corp
    All work was completed in a professional manner.  They found my leftover paint in the basement and did touch up without being asked in the areas of work.
    They returned in a timely manner to make one adjustment requested after the initial completion.
    I would recommend them for any service that they perform and will call them for renovations in the future.
    - Bonita B.
  • A
    Managed Renovations
    Michael and Natalie were simply the perfect team for us.  They helped us conceive the addition, introduced us to all the right people to make it happen, talked us through any decisions that came up during the construction, and made sure everything was completed to satisfaction.  All of our friends rave about how great the porch renovation looks, and it's greatly increased the street view of the house.
    - Mee K.
  • A
    Building Services Group LLC
    Overall experience very good from start to significant problems, delays, inconveniences, cost issues.  Final product was excellent and we have remained very pleased with the new bathroom.  Will definitely use same builder for future remodeling .
    - Gwen B.
  • A
    Premier HomePro
    We had Brian for the project manager, he was very straight forward and was right on with the estimate on materials.  Brian went the extra mile to make sure construction started ASAP since we wanted it done before moving in.
    Marco was the main builder and did an absolutely fantastic job.  He was very professional, worked very hard, and when done we noticed a lot of little details that showed that he was not just about getting the minimum done, and instead wanted to do a job that we would love.  I'd ask for both Brian and Marco if we need anything in the future.
    I talked to Alan (the owner) once and he was very concerned in making sure we were happy with the work.
    I was also impressed that the work is insured for 2 years.  It was hard to find a contractor that would stand by their work for more than the time it took them to cash your last check.  The only knock I can come up with is that the contract took a little long to have scanned in and emailed to us after we signed it, but in hindsight that is really nitpicking.  When we first got the house and were taking care of smaller projects, we kind of felt like we were in the home of the previous owner and not really in 'our' place.  With the changes it really feels like our home now.  I love the final result and the price was much better than any other offer.
    - Ian M.
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