Nearby Custom Builders in Ashburn

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APOTOMAC VALLEY BUILDERS
I have been professionally involved with the custom home industry in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. are for almost 50 years. In that time, I have been personally involved in over 1,000 custom home projects. I have had the privilege of working with dozens of custom home builders and architects. It has been a gratifying experience. The custom home industry has challenges beyond those found in the production or speculative home industry. By its nature, there are no two identical projects. Each project is designed for a specific client and contains features, and consequently, applications specific to that project. An architect must have the ability to understand the client’s needs and the ability to communicate successfully with that client and the custom home builder to provide this client the results he is anticipating. The custom home builder plays a significant role in this process to conceptually determine the practicality and feasibility of delivering this product. His feedback to the team is critical. I have had the pleasure of working with many competent builders. I have worked with Potomac Valley Builders (PVB) for almost a decade. Together, we have worked on extremely large and complex projects as well as small projects they will take on at the request of an associated architect or prior client. Many of these projects involve complicated systems that require them to have the ability to adapt to a specific circumstance, understand a complex aspect and aid in the resolution of issues. The nature of this work obviously creates situations where understanding of issues both physical and personal will require tactful input. PVB and its employees and associates have always proven to be masterful at these challenges. Potomac Valley Builders has a staff of competent and reliable people. They are extremely customer focused as their top priority. This would be expected from an organization whose reputation is their main source of business. They also take great pride in their projects and have an impressive resume of their results. They treat their associates and subcontractors with respect and fairness. I have always valued this relationship and hope that it will continue for many years to come. If I were to be in the market to have a project built in Metropolitan D.C., PVB would be on a very short list of companies I would seek to engage.
- Tom H....
ABallard & Mensua Architecture
We just finished a spectacular custom home project in McLean, VA and we are so very grateful to Seth Ballard and his team! If you are considering hiring his firm, look no further. There can be no better architect in the DC/VA/MD area – and his pricing is more than fair. We first picked Seth because we loved his architectural style and heard that he had a reputation for ensuring that his plans are executed with impeccable precision and attention to quality. Also, his references were stellar….without exception, his former clients offered glowing praise for his talent, diligence, and follow-through. And now that we are former clients, we understand why. We always knew we were going to have a gem of a home with Seth at the helm. What we did not fully appreciate at the beginning was his proven ability to help us STAY ON BUDGET and his deep bench of connections with first-rate contractors and subcontractors who were prepared to bend over backward to meet Seth’s exacting standards. Here are just a few highlights from our experience: CONCEPT PHASE: During the initial meetings at our home, Seth went the extra mile to learn all about our lifestyle, future needs, architectural likes/dislikes, and budget. During this stage of the process, he would effortlessly make freehand drawings to help us visualize potential styles and layouts. We ultimately elected to go with a craftsman design, with lots of wood features inside and out. PICKING THE RIGHT PROPERTY: Seth joined us for car rides through the local neighborhoods, helping us to scout out the property that was best suited for our construction plans – free of any potential HOA or permitting snafus. DESIGN: With Seth’s guidance, we iterated on different design options. The design phase was high-tech and highly visual. Lots of 2D and 3D elevations, plus 360-degree videos. At each step, Seth clearly identified the estimated construction cost, and we would make decisions about what to dial-up and what to dial-down. For example, we elected to go with a cheaper asphalt roof (rather than slate), but with a more premium window. There were literally dozens of choices like that, and Seth did a superb job of helping us to make the right trade-offs and to “value engineer” the house. PICKING THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR AND SUBS: One of the things that distinguishes Seth from the competition is that he works closely with a handful of contractors and subcontractors who have already been “pre-screened” for excellence. Seth connected us with a general contractor who was not only honest and diligent, but whose carpentry was truly “artisan grade.” Seth also drew upon a stable of outstanding subcontractors – in areas such as HVAC/plumbing, electrical/lighting, structural engineering, cabinetry, tile, drywall/paint, countertops, hardwood flooring, landscaping, etc. It was perfectly clear that these subs were striving to deliver the highest quality and exemplary service. Why? Because Seth was an important source of repeat business for them. This made them extremely responsive. BUDGETING: Seth developed detailed spreadsheets estimating costs for every aspect of the project, as well as options for “enhancements.” Once we made our choices, he was instrumental in securing a FLAT FEE CONTRACT with the builder (inclusive of subs) for everything we wanted. To provide even more control over the cost, the agreement specified that certain items would be “owner provided, contractor installed.” This meant that, regardless of whether we bought pricey appliances or tile or flooring, it would have no impact of the builder’s fees. To his credit, Seth’s estimates were quite accurate, and the project stayed on budget. ARCHITECT FEES: We negotiated a flat fee for Seth’s architectural services, and got way more than we bargained for. We had no idea Seth would stay so engaged throughout the project -- micromanaging every detail, and even offering interior design suggestions (e.g., stains and paints, cabinet and window designs, furniture layouts, etc.). It became clear that, regardless of how much we had agreed to pay in fees, Seth was “all in,” and was committed to ensuring that the end result was perfection. To be sure, in any large construction project, there will be some hiccups. But this was yet another area where Seth shined. Rather than being indifferent, or pointing the finger at those who were actually at fault, he would step up to “own the problem” and take charge until the issue was resolved. In one such case, he developed a design tweak that saved us money and produced a more beautiful result in the process. We never had to stress too much, because we knew Seth was 100% engaged and we could trust that the final work product would be a treasure of a home. One final thought. While Seth’s tremendous talent is obviously perfect for large custom projects, we have no doubt that he can deliver outstanding value for smaller home renovations too. When we did kitchen/bath renovations in our prior home, we naively thought that a “design-and-build” firm would deliver the best solution. With the benefit of hindsight, we could have done so much better hiring Seth as the independent architect and separately hiring a builder who would be accountable to the architect. The result would have been better quality construction, a better value, and far less stress. So whether you are about to embark on a modest remodel or getting ready to “dream big” with a new custom home, look no further than Ballard Mensua Architecture.
- Jack L....
AGSBuilders / Green Studio Builders Inc.
I highly recommend of Green Studio Builders based on my recent experience constructing my custom garage. Throughout the course of construction, Green Studio employees displayed a high level of professionalism, experience, dedication, commitment to quality and workmanship. With the knowledge and experience of Green Studio Builders did a outstanding job of orchestrating lots of build teams from design thru construction. Chris demonstrated outstanding project leadership and experience to overcome challenges during design and construction. With the cost engineering skill and sensitivity to my budget, Chris was successful to bring my building precisely in budget and on time. Green Studio Builders/Chris completely understands building standards, regulations, zoning and procedures that come along with creating a fantastic building. Chris did a outstanding job of communicating with me and providing all necessary paperwork. This recommendation is to thank you and your entire staff for your efforts in making the construction of my project as painless as possible. Green Studio Builders can be depended upon to “take care of business and to turn out an outstanding product.”
- Blair D....
AMark Crowe Cabinet Maker LLC
Mark was very responsive and attentive to our needs and he offered several great ideas to improve on the existing designs. Mark and his team were very flexible to work with and did everything they could to meet our accelerated timeline. I would highly and emphatically recommend Mark to everyone!
- Josh W....
AParamount Construction
Having arrived at a satisfactory settlement with Paramount Construction, Inc. of all of our difficulties in the designing and drawing of our new home, we have terminated our relationship with them and cancel and negate all earlier made critical or negative statements or comments made about them. Angela Bardwell
- Troy B....
FPOTOMAC CUSTOM BUILDERS
It turned out terrible. They took forever to finish it; they hired unprofessional labours instead of license individuals. They’re just unlicensed. They shouldn’t be building at all. If they do work for you, they use cheap, cheap materials.
- Pamela M....
APrecision Contracting & Remodeling Inc
Fantastic! Matt and his guys are great to work with. Not only do they do outstanding work they listen to the customer and allow the customer to help in the decision making. Matt is my go to guy!
- Gunther I....
ASA Home Improvement
We had SA Home Improvement build a detached 24 x 24 garage and we are very pleased with how it turned out... Working with Seddik and his crew was a pleasure from beginning to end. I interviewed 14 contractors and decided to go with SA Home Improvement because they thought of details that should have been included in the bids from the other contractors (retaining wall, moving huge amount of dirt for the location and paving to name a few) and it was obvious they offered quality workmanship (concrete slab as opposed to a competitor's cinder block walls on their bid). The SA Home Improvement architect did a great job designing the new garage to our specs (it needed to look just like our current garage and tie in with our house) and it was a pleasure to work with them on the plans. I've had friends say "it looks like it's always been here" which is the utmost compliment since that is what we were going for in our design. Seddik and his crew worked in a timely manner while building the garage with integrity and quality. This is my first "build" project (I have done other bathroom and kitchen renovations with other companies and wish I had known about SA Home Improvement) so I needed to be educated on every step of the way as to what was happening each day. Seddik and his crew answered all of my questions and never made me feel bad or silly...Seddik had so much patience with each of my questions. The crew cleaned up the project mess every day and I was very impressed how hard the construction team worked every day...it was obvious they really cared about doing a quality job. I highly reccomend SA Home Improvement for a custom build or renovation. I hope to have them back within the year for a bathroom project. These folks are top notch and I am grateful for a stress free garage build that turned out amazing. My husband and I are very happy with SA Home Improvement and are grateful we chose them for our garage build.
- Melissa M....
AMike Garcia Construction
I met Mike Garcia back in 1984, when I was looking for a builder to build my first home in Woodbridge. He had recently started his own company and prior had worked for another custom builder that I was already acquainted with. He came highly recommended by this builder and other homeowners that had used him to build their homes. I met with Mike to discuss the details of my home and immediately felt at ease with the knowledge and expertise he displayed through the entire process. At the time, I was extremely busy with my work, had two small children, and my wife worked, and I needed someone whom could manage and supervise this process without spending a lot of my time for Q and A's. With the help of Mike, his wife Robin, and their exceptional staff, the construction process was extremely pleasurable and easy. The quality of materials and workmanship far superseded my expectations. I have used Mike's company for additional add-ons to my home and have always been pleased with his prompt response and timely completions. I again, in 2007, contracted with Mike Garcia Construction to build a "Custom" home in the Haymarket area. Once again the construction phases and selection processes went like clockwork. The awards and achievements his company has received shows in the quality and construction of the house I now reside in. I would recommend to anyone, who is the market of purchasing or building a new home, to take the time and talk to this company before making your final decision.
- Paul E....
AFALCON CONSTRUCTION INC
Falcon Construction built a beautiful, period cabinet that looked as if it was part of the original house (1880). Quality of hardware and cabinetry and design were outstanding. Greg designed it and supervised installation. Quick turn around from design to installation as well.
- Lauren R....
DCyrus Construction LP
2 surveyors came out for measurements. Simple plan requested - over the top plan provided. The plan provided missed several structural elements and had deficiencies. The plans were difficult to read and interpret due to small size and inability to expand and read.
- Larry W....
FLeMaster Homes
This was one of the worst experiences of our life.  The signs were prevalent throughout the process but unfortunately we didn’t notice them until we reflected upon them.  (Isn’t that always the case!) The house was delivered almost a year later than the contract delivery date and over four years later than the original promised date by the builder. Working through the blueprints and costing of the home took a lot of time and each iteration did not include the modifications (or errors depending on your perspective) from the prior revision because the builder didn’t take notes during any of the discussions.  He repeatedly called another meeting to talk about items we had already made decisions about.  During this period the builder also showed us his bonds, insurance, and license.  These all ended up being false because they were all for a former Class A contractor company that he owned not the one he represented himself as to us.  He also gave us false information about the property – most notable the lack of an HOA and covenants then at the signature table presented us with documents for the HOA.  Once all these issues got worked through the building process got started. In the end we couldn’t complete a punch list because the list of significant non-cosmetic issues was so large that cosmetic issues were the least of our problems.  At closing the builder promised in writing to fix all the issues (over 500) within a year.  About 35 of the issues were worked on before we moved in about a month later and we were only able to get him out to the house once to fix a couple of window leaks.  It may seem reasonable that we should not have closed but we were bleeding cash from the delays and had another $350k in the house above the builder’s costs.  So what seems reasonable was not really rationale.  Here’s an abbreviated list of the issues to fit into the word limit.  A slightly more detailed version of this document is included as an attachment should you wish to avoid them with this or another builder. 1.       The builder did virtually no supervision of any of the subcontractors, individual tradesmen, and contract employees.  The builder did not coordinate the work of the subcontractors, individual tradesmen, and contract employees.  They would show up randomly, remove completed work from the other trades, and leave before their work was completed, not clean up after themselves, and not show up for weeks. 2.       It was difficult to ever get in contact with the builder, whether it be us, the subcontractors, tradesmen or contract employees.  On one occasions, when the well was being drilled the subcontractor had a clause that stated they would drill until depth approved by the builder to a maximum depth of 1000 feet.  They hit water at 120 feet and tried for three days to contact the builder.  At that point they hit 1000 feet.  This makes it difficult to chlorinate the well and of course the builder passed this cost to us. 3.       Water infiltration from above, below and the sides – meaning the roof leaks, the basement floods, and water comes in from the windows and doors.  Add to this the drainage for the house is from the outside to the inside then pumped back to the outside. ·         Structural mistakes were made on the house.  The wrong rebar spacing was used in the foundation, the wrong fill was used putting pressure points on the wall, the floor joists were improperly sized, and the wrong anchor bolts were used. ·         Electrical mistakes were made.  A 400 a service was installed on a 7,000 square foot house instead of the 513 a calculated by two electricians.  The well pump was installed without the wire approved for immersed use and was 2 sizes too small.  This resulted in the wire exploding in a box.  Circuit breakers were mis-sized and incorrectly installed.  Manufacturer installation instructions were frequently ignored resulting in a non-working generator, unsafe switches, and missing safety equipment.  Branch circuits were improperly wired resulting in failed circuits and inoperable lights. ·         Plumbing mistakes were made.  Basement drains were improperly installed and not properly located resulting in standing water after a storm, flooding in the basement, and black (sewer) water backing up into the house.  The hot water recirculation system was improperly installed, bath tub spouts leaked into the walls, and the dishwasher installation was so poor both the dishwasher and all the adjacent cabinets had to be replaced. ·         The insulation of the home was a major point in the purchase of the home but the sealing of the home was ineffectual.  There is missing insulation in many parts of the home.  In other areas the insulation was not the correct type and there are gaps in insulation especially around outlets and protrusions.  None of the exterior walls were sealed.  Because of the use of the improper type of insulation in the ceiling and undersized rafter vents going up the cathedral ceiling there is a thermal bridge on the second floor.  ·         Windows are not Low E and were made for Southern Florida not Northern Virginia.  They were improperly installed resulting in water leaks around most windows and air leaks around all of them. ·         The builder allowed the HVAC subcontractor to drag their feet during the entire building process to the point that all the other services were installed before the ductwork was in.  There are large holes in the supply duct, leaks in roof vents, inoperable dampers, and unsealed return air ducts.  The second floor unit supplies air at 20 degrees different than the attic generally cooling the rooms in the winter and heating them in the summer. ·         The builder installed rejected flooring materials in the house.  There were large gaps in wood floors, planks with reject marks present, splintering wood, and rotted wood installed in the home. ·         The build did not build the home by the blue prints included o   Installed a four bedroom septic for a five bedroom home o   Windows that are indicated on the plan were simply not installed o   Walls were built at the wrong heights
- James H....
ALandis Architects/Builders
Superb customer service, communication, quality of work and materials. It's the "Ritz Carlton" customer service attitude.
- Howard S....
AO'NEILL DEVELOPMENT CORP
I first became aware of O'Neill Development Corporation through an in-depth article in the Real Estate section of the Washington Post.  They had just built a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,) certified home on North Chelsea Lane, Bethesda, Maryland.  My wife and I were very interested in the environmental performance of the custom home we planned to build, including design, construction methods, operations and maintenance.  So we approached O'Neill with our plans and ideas.  It was immediately clear that they were thoroughly conversant with the techniques we had in mind--for example, Insulating Concrete Forms for foundation walls, Structural Insulating Panels for exterior walls and roof panels. We signed the contract with O'Neill many months after our first contact with them; but by then, they had already provided us with important pre-construction services.  The house we had in mind had been designed by Sarah Susanka and we purchased the plans from a California architectural firm that she has authorized to sell her plans.  However, the structural plans had to be developed to meet Maryland code requirements.  The structural engineer that O'Neill recommended was excellent.  In general, their sub-contractors, especially those who did the concrete and Stucco work, were among the best in the business.  O'Neill's own talented and dedicated team, led by Brendan O'Neill Junior, included: Martin Johnson who we worked with closely to put together the building permit application, Rob Melby the on-site supervisor and gifted carpenter, Kerri Ford who coordinated the subcontractors, obtained quotes, and hand-held us through all the many selections and decisions we were required to make, and importantly, Brendan O?Neill Senior, who founded the company in 1975 and was always available and willing to provide guidance. Uniformly, they were exceptionally generous with their time, accommodating of our needs and situation, and clearly dedicated to their chosen professions.  Throughout the project I had weekly meetings with them that lasted an average of two hours.  For each meeting, Kerri prepared a formal agenda containing the current items, Change Orders, the decisions from the last meeting, and outstanding items.  Also for each meeting, the project plan was updated and timelines reviewed.  In spite of difficult construction weather conditions, the project was completed in timely fashion. Separately, Brendan Junior handled every issue that arose, especially those that were raised by adjacent property owners, promptly, gracefully and competently.  He was always careful to shield us from these situations knowing that this was to be our future home.  Here are two examples of issues that gave rise to complaints: (1) A Verizon cable was severed during the excavation; but this only occurred because Verizon had illegally run a trench through our lot to service some homes behind our property.  They had not notified Maryland Miss Utility, the state entity responsible for making utility lines before any excavation is authorized?Miss Utility?s slogan is: ?Before you dig, every dig. It?s the law,? and that is exactly what O?Neill did.  As a result, the Verizon lines were not marked, were consequently cut, and Verizon made the repair; (2) In another case, a neighbor?s basement got flooded during a heavy rain storm.  However, on careful examination, it became clear that the fault was simply a leaky basement that revealed itself during the heavy downpour. I would highly recommend O'Neill Development Corporation to anyone who has a custom home-construction project in mind.
- Roy A....
ASONA CUSTOM HOMES INC
They were great, and we are more than satisfied with their work. They worked with us and kept us up-to-date about the whole project. They let us know if at all there were going to be any delays, but there was none of that. They bent over backwards to give us the house that we wanted. The quality of their work is incredible, and everyone who has seen the house is amazed at its quality. Sona Custom Homes were high on professionalism and communication too.
- Marci F....
BOptima Kitchen & Bath
He met with us once and gave us a design.  He was going to move walls that couldn’t be moved. I think he did what he thought he was supposed to do. He sent us a design that wasn't going to work unfortunately. We didn't get a total estimate and we didn't get to pick out anything.
- Blake S....
FViands Construction
The story with Bill is he says yes to everything but delivers on very little. My project was filled with false promises, average quality work and a complete lack of caring from Bill Viands. Be forewarned that he can charm you with Southern Hospitality but see the notes below for the real story. Some things I experienced with Bill: 1. Bill Viands promised to finish the house in December (10 months total) and it took 18 months. 2. In November, Bill Viands told us the house would be done in December?see #1. 3. Bill Viands never provided a schedule and any price he provided was not based in reality! 4. Bill Viands promised to coordinate installation of electric and gas utilities?he never did it. 5. Bill failed to pay some subs for almost a year. Even his sub contractors don?t like working with him. Metropolitan Fire and Tristate say they will never work with the man again because they view him as incompetent. 6. Bill Viands hired his brother at a premium price to work on my project. I came to the job 26 times (random times) while Bill?s brother was supposedly working and he was sitting in his car all 26 times. He had a pile of books in his cars with him. 7. Bills own employees said he was over staffing the job which was paid for on an hourly basis. Bill muzzled them but continued to overstaff the project. 8. Bill Viands promised me a 30% discount on a commission he was due ($30,000) and he changed his mind at the end of the job and held the house hostage until it was paid. 9. Bill Viands provided sub contractors with the wrong version of the plans which means they designed their solutions incorrectly. 10. Bill provided no change orders and made expensive substitutions without providing any guidance cost impact. He continued to tell us we would be able to keep it within budget. 11. During the project Bill provided an estimate on the remaining amount of cost for the project?it nearly cost double what he indicated. 12. Bill Viands over paid the going rate to have dirt removed by 100%. He paid $11,000 for a $5,500 job. 13. Bill Viands does not honor any warranty work. 14. Bill Viands charged $5,000 to clean the house!!! Worse part is that he did not clean it as promised. (one of hundreds of false promises) 15. Bill Viands did not show up for one meeting on time unless there was money due to him. In fact, he missed numerous meetings all together. 16. Bill Viands took it upon himself to change the windows that the architect specified. In reviewing the sizes, Bill incorrectly sized over 50% of them. In addition to a $40,000 increase he installed many of them incorrectly! 17. Bill Viands often needs to be given plans numerous times because he lost them routinely (electrical plans, kitchen appliance specs, landscape plans, etc) 18. Bill Viands prides himself on the quality of his workmanship but most architects who have seen the house rate the work as ordinary in many areas. Some parts are being redone because they are so bad. 19. Bill Viands admitted that he hired a painter for $25,000 and charged me $50,000?the worst part about this is that just two months after moving in the paint outside is peeling and there are numerous areas in the house that are not adequate. 20. Bill Viands admitted to us that it is okay to stretch the truth once in a while and to ignore subs. 21. Bill Viands surprised us at the end of the job with a $165,000 bill. Just two weeks before he believed the balance was $35,000 22. Bill installed the driveway incorrectly. It cost nearly $65,000 to repair the butcher job he did. In a nutshell, if you are building a house and want a turnkey builder, look elsewhere. Bill took two years of my life and made it miserable. He was a nightmare to work with and without a doubt gives contractors a bad name. For your own sanity look elsewhere.
- Kunal M....
AStallings National Enterprises Inc
Always on time and had a clean job site. House was to specs/plans and everything was so beautiful! Very polite and always professional. Customer service is good. Office staff is friendly and helpful. Overall a very good job and experience!!!
- Jan K....
AThomas Custom Builders Inc
We were amazed with Rick's professionalism, attention to detail, and awesome communication. He showed up at our initial meeting with huge blueprint sized drawings of our plans (we sent him PDFs of our plans prior to the meeting), and invited 4 of his subcontractors to meet us at that time as well in order to get a more accurate estimate. His subs were great and gave us many ideas that we hadn't thought of before. Rick's estimate was extremely fair, and he even recommended a few tweaks from the beginning in order to help us save money. We ended up going in another direction, but we wouldn't hesitate to contact Rick and TCB again in the future, especially based on the glowing recommendations we heard from his references.
- David H....
DPOTOMAC VALLEY BUILDERS
Potomac Valley Builders: Sloppy Management, Lousy Work Our home was built by Potomac Valley Builders, working under the guidance of our architect, Jim Rill. We chose PVB for several reasons, including Jim Rill's recommendation and the evident competence of Gerald Witmer, a principal in the company that we were led to believe would supervise the project. We paid PVB more than two million for the completed house, and have now lived in it eight years. As we got acquainted with our house, we also got acquainted with its failings. Roof On the day we moved in, rain poured through the ceiling of the master bedroom. On other occasions, water has come through the ceilings of two other rooms – our office on the top floor and the ceiling of the “glass room”. We keep a bucket in the office to catch the drip whenever it rains. Electrical We have always blamed poor planning for the fact that we have electrical panels are located on opposite ends of the basement, and that circuit breakers on one side control many circuits on the other side of the house. Our electrician has shown us that the original electrician intentionally broke components in our circuit panel to increase the ability of circuit breakers to handle the load that was placed on them. Lutron switches and dimmers are installed everywhere, but with no evident planning. To turn on a light on one side of the room, you generally must walk to the other side. We had to have our circuit breakers completely redone: the lavbeling was inaccurate and often illegible. Plumbing Our builder selected PVC with thin walls for most piping, including the water main to the street. We've had a burst water main which flooded our basement. The shutoff at the street was not marked and was buried. Heating and Air Conditioning The subcontractor who did this went out of business right after we took occupancy, leaving us with a number of problems: Most air conditioning filters are inaccessible, requiring the removal of cabinet facing. Heating and air conditioning are regulated by separate controls. Any given room is likely to have its heating and cooling controls in different locations. To shift from heating to cooling or vice versa, a dozen valves must be opened or closed, along with a number of switches. With this effort, we suffer when the world is warm in winter or cool in summer. Our swimming pool was connected to a pump and filter inside the house, and its water was heated by running it directly through our geothermal units, without use of a heat exchanger. Because this water was salted as part of our pool bacteria control procedures, problems developed. A hot water heater designed to supplement the work of the geothermal units soon corroded and failed. A replacement for it corroded and failed. The geothermal units failed. Swimming Pool As soon as we added water to the swimming pool, the pool room developed serious condensation on all surfaces. Our builder suggested and installed an industrial-size dehumidifier. Because the dehumidifier created considerable heat in the pool room, he suggested that we run the room's air conditioning year-round. Our electric bill for our first month of use was over $1,700. It turns out that no dehumidifier is needed if the pool is simply covered when not in use. Due to some poor planning, the two huge geothermal units we have installed do not have the capacity to control the temperature of the pool room. Without discussion, PVB installed a small electric heater in the pool room, and placed a small geothermal unit under the floor of the pool room, to try to keep the room warm in winter. Driveway The corners of the new driveway immediately began to subside, with puddles lasting long after a rain. Our builder was willing to address this for an additional charge, but was unable to match the look of the original driveway when he patched. A section of the driveway bordered by a stone retaining wall is subsiding, and will soon need attention. Several area of the driveway are now worn through, exposing the under layer. Roof and Driveway Drainage We designed a system to capture all water that falls on the roof of the house or garages, and all water that falls on the driveway, sending it to a pair of huge underground tanks. These tanks sit on a deep gravel bed intended to capture excess water that comes from rain when the tanks are full. An irrigation system draws from these tanks. But little math seems to have been involved in this design: When the tanks are full, after 10 minutes of irrigation the well pump kicks on to replace the missing water. Obviously the float valve is too high in the tanks. With the high float valve, the tanks are normally nearly full. A heavy rain fills them, fills the gravel bed, and flows down the hill. The pump that draws water from the tanks failed in its first year of use, and had to be replaced. Outdoor Staining The exterior of our house is stained to reveal the natural color of the wood. But initial staining was done before the stone masons were finished, and stone dust stuck to the drying stain. In an effort to remove this mess, PVB powerwashed the surface of that soft wood, damaging it. To maintain the house, we have twice restained using the same product that PVB's painters used. Unfortunately, the wrong stain was selected for the house. It buckled, bubbled, and peeled. We finally found an excellent painter who researched stains, spent 4 months preparing the surface and staining, and the stain has now lasted us three years – and still looks good. Koi Pond Our koi pond had plumbing to handle skimmers and provide filtration. Pressure gauges were placed on the pipe, so that the connections could be tested. But no tests were ever done, and after the concrete was poured and dried, operation of the pump revealed that many of the pipes leaked, and could not be used. The koi pond's remaining piping that is in use, has one or more leaks that the builder could not locate. To offset this, the builder installed an autofill, which needs to run frequently to keep the water level constant. Skimmer baskets were installed in two locations on the edge of the koi pond. But they were of a size that suited a much smaller capacity indoor swimming pool, and immediately clogged with leaves. One of the baskets cannot be removed because concrete was added above it for the patio. The other is connected to a piece of PVC that is leaking. Snow guards Attractive snow guards were installed by the builder, but installed backwards, so that they would fall over whenever pushed by a load of snow coming from above. It took repeated complaints to induce the builder to reverse them. Patio drainage We are currently in the midst of a $60,000 repair of the drainage of our second story patio, and so can report on some details of construction problems. Four patio drains connect to a single horizontal PVC pipe which connected to a single vertical pipe. This vertical pipe clogged, so that water entering one of the four drains would bubble up. At times, the water got so high that it threatened to flood over the threshold and into the house. Our builder was unable to remember where the vertical pipe was located, had taken no photos during construction to provide this information, and could not locate it after extended digging in our back yard. He tried repeatedly, but could not snake the clogged vertical pipe. Our plumber was unable to do any better. As we jack hammered our way through the patio to access the drain, we found that the piping was located below a foot of concrete, rebar, and membrane – impossible to repair without destroying the patio. Drains were poorly chosen. Those installed were not designed to capture the moisture the membrane was blocking. When we opened it up, the concrete of the patio drained for days. A gentle test of the PVC that the builder buried in the concrete reveals that the PVC leaks at most joints, which operated as if they had not been glued at all. The builder did not place any weep holes on the edge of the patio, to allow water that had soaked into the concrete below the flagstone to escape. But that likely wouldn't have been of beneft because the patio was designed with a slope to carry water falling on it to the middle, not the edges. The builder did not seal the patio stone. Water soaked through the patio and the ceiling of the bedroom below when the house was new. These problems occurred, we believe, because there was inadequate supervision. We chose PVB because we were told that Gerald Witmer would be our project manager. Two months after construction began, a new project manager informed us that he was in charge. We were never consulted on this change. The new project manager was, to be polite, pro-active. At first, we wondered why PVB never sked us to be a reference for new customers. Now we know why.
- David S....

Custom Builders Near You

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POTOMAC VALLEY BUILDERS
Recent Review: I have been professionally involved with the custom home industry in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. are for almost 50 years. In that time, I have been personally involved in over 1,000 custom home projects. I have had the privilege of working with dozens of custom home builders and architects. It has been a gratifying experience. The custom home industry has challenges beyond those found in the production or speculative home industry. By its nature, there are no two identical projects. Each project is designed for a specific client and contains features, and consequently, applications specific to that project. An architect must have the ability to understand the client’s needs and the ability to communicate successfully with that client and the custom home builder to provide this client the results he is anticipating. The custom home builder plays a significant role in this process to conceptually determine the practicality and feasibility of delivering this product. His feedback to the team is critical. I have had the pleasure of working with many competent builders. I have worked with Potomac Valley Builders (PVB) for almost a decade. Together, we have worked on extremely large and complex projects as well as small projects they will take on at the request of an associated architect or prior client. Many of these projects involve complicated systems that require them to have the ability to adapt to a specific circumstance, understand a complex aspect and aid in the resolution of issues. The nature of this work obviously creates situations where understanding of issues both physical and personal will require tactful input. PVB and its employees and associates have always proven to be masterful at these challenges. Potomac Valley Builders has a staff of competent and reliable people. They are extremely customer focused as their top priority. This would be expected from an organization whose reputation is their main source of business. They also take great pride in their projects and have an impressive resume of their results. They treat their associates and subcontractors with respect and fairness. I have always valued this relationship and hope that it will continue for many years to come. If I were to be in the market to have a project built in Metropolitan D.C., PVB would be on a very short list of companies I would seek to engage.
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Ballard & Mensua Architecture
Recent Review: We just finished a spectacular custom home project in McLean, VA and we are so very grateful to Seth Ballard and his team! If you are considering hiring his firm, look no further. There can be no better architect in the DC/VA/MD area – and his pricing is more than fair. We first picked Seth because we loved his architectural style and heard that he had a reputation for ensuring that his plans are executed with impeccable precision and attention to quality. Also, his references were stellar….without exception, his former clients offered glowing praise for his talent, diligence, and follow-through. And now that we are former clients, we understand why. We always knew we were going to have a gem of a home with Seth at the helm. What we did not fully appreciate at the beginning was his proven ability to help us STAY ON BUDGET and his deep bench of connections with first-rate contractors and subcontractors who were prepared to bend over backward to meet Seth’s exacting standards. Here are just a few highlights from our experience: CONCEPT PHASE: During the initial meetings at our home, Seth went the extra mile to learn all about our lifestyle, future needs, architectural likes/dislikes, and budget. During this stage of the process, he would effortlessly make freehand drawings to help us visualize potential styles and layouts. We ultimately elected to go with a craftsman design, with lots of wood features inside and out. PICKING THE RIGHT PROPERTY: Seth joined us for car rides through the local neighborhoods, helping us to scout out the property that was best suited for our construction plans – free of any potential HOA or permitting snafus. DESIGN: With Seth’s guidance, we iterated on different design options. The design phase was high-tech and highly visual. Lots of 2D and 3D elevations, plus 360-degree videos. At each step, Seth clearly identified the estimated construction cost, and we would make decisions about what to dial-up and what to dial-down. For example, we elected to go with a cheaper asphalt roof (rather than slate), but with a more premium window. There were literally dozens of choices like that, and Seth did a superb job of helping us to make the right trade-offs and to “value engineer” the house. PICKING THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR AND SUBS: One of the things that distinguishes Seth from the competition is that he works closely with a handful of contractors and subcontractors who have already been “pre-screened” for excellence. Seth connected us with a general contractor who was not only honest and diligent, but whose carpentry was truly “artisan grade.” Seth also drew upon a stable of outstanding subcontractors – in areas such as HVAC/plumbing, electrical/lighting, structural engineering, cabinetry, tile, drywall/paint, countertops, hardwood flooring, landscaping, etc. It was perfectly clear that these subs were striving to deliver the highest quality and exemplary service. Why? Because Seth was an important source of repeat business for them. This made them extremely responsive. BUDGETING: Seth developed detailed spreadsheets estimating costs for every aspect of the project, as well as options for “enhancements.” Once we made our choices, he was instrumental in securing a FLAT FEE CONTRACT with the builder (inclusive of subs) for everything we wanted. To provide even more control over the cost, the agreement specified that certain items would be “owner provided, contractor installed.” This meant that, regardless of whether we bought pricey appliances or tile or flooring, it would have no impact of the builder’s fees. To his credit, Seth’s estimates were quite accurate, and the project stayed on budget. ARCHITECT FEES: We negotiated a flat fee for Seth’s architectural services, and got way more than we bargained for. We had no idea Seth would stay so engaged throughout the project -- micromanaging every detail, and even offering interior design suggestions (e.g., stains and paints, cabinet and window designs, furniture layouts, etc.). It became clear that, regardless of how much we had agreed to pay in fees, Seth was “all in,” and was committed to ensuring that the end result was perfection. To be sure, in any large construction project, there will be some hiccups. But this was yet another area where Seth shined. Rather than being indifferent, or pointing the finger at those who were actually at fault, he would step up to “own the problem” and take charge until the issue was resolved. In one such case, he developed a design tweak that saved us money and produced a more beautiful result in the process. We never had to stress too much, because we knew Seth was 100% engaged and we could trust that the final work product would be a treasure of a home. One final thought. While Seth’s tremendous talent is obviously perfect for large custom projects, we have no doubt that he can deliver outstanding value for smaller home renovations too. When we did kitchen/bath renovations in our prior home, we naively thought that a “design-and-build” firm would deliver the best solution. With the benefit of hindsight, we could have done so much better hiring Seth as the independent architect and separately hiring a builder who would be accountable to the architect. The result would have been better quality construction, a better value, and far less stress. So whether you are about to embark on a modest remodel or getting ready to “dream big” with a new custom home, look no further than Ballard Mensua Architecture.
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GSBuilders / Green Studio Builders Inc.
Recent Review: I highly recommend of Green Studio Builders based on my recent experience constructing my custom garage. Throughout the course of construction, Green Studio employees displayed a high level of professionalism, experience, dedication, commitment to quality and workmanship. With the knowledge and experience of Green Studio Builders did a outstanding job of orchestrating lots of build teams from design thru construction. Chris demonstrated outstanding project leadership and experience to overcome challenges during design and construction. With the cost engineering skill and sensitivity to my budget, Chris was successful to bring my building precisely in budget and on time. Green Studio Builders/Chris completely understands building standards, regulations, zoning and procedures that come along with creating a fantastic building. Chris did a outstanding job of communicating with me and providing all necessary paperwork. This recommendation is to thank you and your entire staff for your efforts in making the construction of my project as painless as possible. Green Studio Builders can be depended upon to “take care of business and to turn out an outstanding product.”
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Mark Crowe Cabinet Maker LLC
Award 2018Super Service Award
Recent Review: Mark was very responsive and attentive to our needs and he offered several great ideas to improve on the existing designs. Mark and his team were very flexible to work with and did everything they could to meet our accelerated timeline. I would highly and emphatically recommend Mark to everyone!
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AOKO Custom Products
Recent Review: Joe did a phenomenal job creating a beautiful custom made Chicago Cubs inspired art piece.
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Garrison Homes LLC
Recent Review: Professional,efficient,honest,great customer attention and great service.
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Paramount Construction
Recent Review: Having arrived at a satisfactory settlement with Paramount Construction, Inc. of all of our difficulties in the designing and drawing of our new home, we have terminated our relationship with them and cancel and negate all earlier made critical or negative statements or comments made about them. Angela Bardwell
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POTOMAC CUSTOM BUILDERS
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Precision Contracting & Remodeling Inc
Recent Review: Fantastic! Matt and his guys are great to work with. Not only do they do outstanding work they listen to the customer and allow the customer to help in the decision making. Matt is my go to guy!
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SA Home Improvement
Recent Review: We had SA Home Improvement build a detached 24 x 24 garage and we are very pleased with how it turned out... Working with Seddik and his crew was a pleasure from beginning to end. I interviewed 14 contractors and decided to go with SA Home Improvement because they thought of details that should have been included in the bids from the other contractors (retaining wall, moving huge amount of dirt for the location and paving to name a few) and it was obvious they offered quality workmanship (concrete slab as opposed to a competitor's cinder block walls on their bid). The SA Home Improvement architect did a great job designing the new garage to our specs (it needed to look just like our current garage and tie in with our house) and it was a pleasure to work with them on the plans. I've had friends say "it looks like it's always been here" which is the utmost compliment since that is what we were going for in our design. Seddik and his crew worked in a timely manner while building the garage with integrity and quality. This is my first "build" project (I have done other bathroom and kitchen renovations with other companies and wish I had known about SA Home Improvement) so I needed to be educated on every step of the way as to what was happening each day. Seddik and his crew answered all of my questions and never made me feel bad or silly...Seddik had so much patience with each of my questions. The crew cleaned up the project mess every day and I was very impressed how hard the construction team worked every day...it was obvious they really cared about doing a quality job. I highly reccomend SA Home Improvement for a custom build or renovation. I hope to have them back within the year for a bathroom project. These folks are top notch and I am grateful for a stress free garage build that turned out amazing. My husband and I are very happy with SA Home Improvement and are grateful we chose them for our garage build.