What's Good?


Disclaimer: What you're about to read has nothing to do with renovations.  Still, if an award was given for our “Most Significant” blog post, this one would win by far.

I’m sure you've our society has become increasingly panic-stricken. The news networks rarely tell us anything calming or good, and social media thrives on deception.  All this bad news begs the question: Is good news out there?

The answer is yes.  Good still happens in our American culture.  And it's worth finding.  You need to know where to look though, or face being swept away by a tidal wave of negativity.

So where is the good news?
At Daniel Builders we recognize truly good news starts with God. He is actually doing good right now in our community, even as much of it goes largely unrecognized.  The few recognizing this goodness are often at “rock bottom”.  They have exhausted just about every option, but one -The Haven of Rest.  The Haven specializes in helping people at rock bottom, and they frequently see God demonstrate amazing goodness.  Recently, I sat down with Stu Butler, executive director of the Haven of Rest in Anderson. 

What he said is worth sharing.

Will: Who comes to the Haven of Rest for help?

Stu: Men and women struggling with a life dominating problem.  Let me read you our Mission statement. The Haven of Rest exists to see those with life dominating problems rescued, restored and released while experiencing the love of the Lord Jesus Christ as commanded in the Great Commission of Matt 28:18-20. 

Will: What does getting help look like for someone struggling with a live dominating problem?

Stu: We don’t advertise.  We don’t have to advertise. Most people end up here by word of mouth.  We have five pillars.  Food. Shelter. Clothing. Christian Love.  Biblical Guidance. If a person’s stomach is inside out from hunger they can’t really listen very well.  Or if someone is physically exhausted and they just need to lay down a while we can meet that need.  So we start by meeting basic needs, but that’s not where we stop. 

Will: What motivates you?

Stu: The love of Christ, what He has done for me and what I see Him doing in other people’s lives. We see God doing miracles here every day and that is not only motivational but inspirational as well. I am motivated to leave things better than I found them. That is something that my dad taught me and it has stuck with me all these years. He did that and his legacy still lives on even though he passed away two years ago at age 92. I want to follow in my Father’s footsteps – both my earthly father and my heavenly Father. I want to leave a legacy that is larger than me and will last longer than me.

Will: Have you seen an increase or decrease in desperate, “rock bottom” people?

Stu: Unfortunately we have seen an increase. Material poverty has been around for a long time but we also see spiritual poverty and relational poverty. Technology has connected us but also disconnected us and that creates relational poverty. So we are ministering to men and women dealing with that as well. Interestingly in our low tech ministry centers our men and women are forced to talk and to relate to one another.  That can be a slow process at first but they can learn to relate to their fellow sojourners and that is a great thing. If they can learn to relate to and love their fellow man who they have seen it helps them to see God who they have not seen.

Will: How will the Haven continue seeing God at work?

Stu: We stand on the truth and the basics, as long as we do that we will grow and see God at work. As we are faithful to God He is faithful to us and gives us fruit for our labors. This is a faith ministry and what we have found is that God honors faith because faith honors God. We are so thankful for the support of the community, support which we depend on because we do not receive government funding for our programs.

May God grant us all an ability to recognize His good news.  

To find out more about Haven of Rest Ministries or to make a donation please visit www.havenofrest.cc

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2018 in Review(s)

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That was fast.  Hard to believe we’re in the final hours of 2018.  What was 2018 like for you?  Reviewing a year is like a football coach reviewing game footage.  You’re wiser, savvier for doing it. Forgetting 365 days would be a colossal waste. 

Some of our best lessons from 2018 came in the form of customer feedback, or reviews.  Listening when our customers speak has been absolutely essential to our business.  After all, Daniel Builders is in the business of making customers really, really happy with their homes.  They, like any good boss, let us know if we’re succeeding or not. 

Customer reviews serve another purpose. They give future customers a good idea of what to expect.  Some people write reviews with ill-intent, trying to inflict unwarranted embarrassment, or harm.  These folks are typically easy to spot though.  Most reviews are written by people who care.  They realize their feedback (both positive and negative) can be extremely helpful.

Thank you to every customer who shared their honest feedback in 2018. 

So without further delay, here’s a sampling of what they had to say.   

We appreciate the professionalism and the communication from all of you at Daniel Builders.  While it’s never fun to have folks in your house for long stretches, you made it as painless as possible.
You were easy to work with and took care of all our questions and concerns in a timely manner.  You will certainly be considered for any future projects we may have.
 – Katherine L.

I have been impressed with Daniel Builders
from my first phone call, to the design team, our Project Manager and
Carpenters and would use ya'll again for future building
projects....without hesitation.  – Kathy S.

We have been nothing but pleased with your company from beginning to end with both our projects.   You run a top notch company and I’m sure we will have more projects in the future.  – Ali R.

I would highly recommend Daniel Builders. They have been honest, on time, and high quality of work.
– Andy G.

I appreciate Daniel Builders and everything that you represent. I look forward to working with you again in the future. Let me know if I can ever provide references for you.  –Greg A.

They did a great job helping us make a 1/2 bath/laundry room into a full, accessible bathroom. The guys were friendly, knowledgeable, on time, communicative, and innovative in the design to make the most of the allotted space. We are extremely pleased with the entire experience.
– Charles C.

I'm not sure I have ever come across another contractor that I have worked with I would give 5-stars to, but Daniel Builders deserves every one. I'd probably do it just because they actually show up when they say they are going to - a rarity I've found these days - on time, every time. But they aren't just punctual in their arrival, they have completed every job for us on time and beautifully! We've asked them to remodel two bathrooms, complete odd jobs to help close a sale of a house and build a beautiful fence. We had a minor, but not unusual, problem with work completed and when we called almost 6 months later, they came out the next week and fixed it without charge. I couldn't believe the responsiveness. Most contractors would take weeks to call you back, if they ever did. Our family has used them as well and had the same great experience. We've already chosen them to help us complete our newest project - a kitchen remodel. We considered briefly to do it ourselves as we've done many times before, but the comfort knowing the job will be done exactly as we imagine, on time and by great people - that aren't us - made the decision for us. 
–Nicole C.

Just want to thank you for another great job. So sorry we did not know about you in the past. Certainly, it would have saved us some do-overs. It was a pleasure to have you in our home. Everyone we have had contact with is so easy to work with and did an absolutely wonder job. Thank you for putting as much effort into a small job (like our laundry room floor) as you did when we renovated the front of the house. Another thing that is so important: Communication. You kept us informed! When the job would start, times people would be here. Such nice and professional people that work for you. Too bad more companies do not have your work ethic. –Bill J.
We worked for some exceptional people in 2018.  We’re grateful for each one, and the feedback they share.
Happy and prosperous 2019!

The SHK Renovation

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I’m taking a risk here, but it’s worth taking.  This blog is meant to warn you.  Stay away from the SHK renovation process, and if you've already started, RUN!  Never subject yourself to that kind of experience.  Customers from the SHK tell us (and quite frequently) how much they regret trying to renovate their home that way.  Every single customer of the SHK acknowledges it was not worth it.  
Full disclosure, the SHK is not some up and coming competitor.  Instead, it’s a very costly experience better known as the School of Hard Knocks.  Graduates of this “school” come to Daniel Builders after learning valuable renovation lessons the hard way.  They all say the same thing, “I had no idea how much time, money and hardship my renovation would cost.” Ironically, the school appeals most to those seeking to save time, money, and hardships.  
Attending the SHK isn’t necessary.  In fact, it’s the only school that truly pays to skip.  So how does one avoid learning the lessons the hard way?  Short answer: Identify SHK renovators before it’s too late.  (*Note: A 2015 Houzz showed the top 3 renovation challenges were 1) finding the right service provider 2) finding the right products and materials 3) staying on budget.Really all 3 get resolved by choosing the right service provider.) The SHK renovator typically does minimal upfront legwork prior to starting a project.      
Time is money, and here’s a story line illustrating how both are easily lost in large quantities during a renovation. See if it sounds familiar.  Homeowner seeks contractor for a major renovation project.  Homeowner finds contractor A online, and contacts him based on multiple online reviews from past customers who speak highly about Contractor A’s ability to provide an excellent renovation experience.  Customer meets Contractor A and likes him even more.  Customer feels very confident contactor A is competent and will deliver a high quality/low frustration renovation.  Yet, homeowner decides to shop for a lower price.  And he finds contractor B.  Contractor B says he can do everything Contractor A, but at a price the homeowner wants to hear.  So the homeowner moves forward with contractor B.  Fast forward 3 months.  Homeowner’s expectations are shattered.  Contractor B’s actual price escalates well beyond his estimates, while his level of quality and service decline.  Homeowner fires Contractor B, loses money, and tries to figure out how to start over.  Hopefully, these valuable lessons were truly learned and the homeowner never re-enrolls in the SHK, or the cycle is certain to repeat itself.      
No major renovation should start without first doing major legwork. Good contractors realize this and plan accordingly in 3 areas.  Before anyone swings a hammer there should be real clarity on the scope of work and price.  Here are 3 deliverables you need before beginning a major renovation.

  1. Design – creating your design with the help of a designer or architect ensures your finished project looks like what you want.  Plus, this process uncovers new design options, as well as products the homeowner never knew existed. 

  2. Detailed Scope - take time with your contractor to spell out the full and detailed scope of work, making all selections.  Doing this legwork before starting shows you exactly what you’re paying for.  Nobody wants to get less than what they expect.  A detailed scope ensures you won’t.

  3. Fixed Cost – Cost surprises are rarely positive.  When was the last time someone heard, “Your project is going to cost a few thousand less than we estimated?”  Doesn’t happen. You no longer need to estimate when you have a clear design and detailed scope (including selections).  You can have a fixed cost at the start.   

Renovation Happiness

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"How does that make you feel?" 

Asking this age old psychiatric question is highly recommended as you consider ways to improve the space where you live.  A few days ago I came across these 7 decor characteristics that influence your emotions, and wanted to share them with you. 

The Color of Your World

In the early 1800s, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe proposed colors affect the human psyche in his book Theory of Colours. Although his interpretation of certain colors was not entirely accurate, his theory was confirmed through recent studies and experiments. Today, we know colors affect us on a psychological level.
Here are some color correlations:           

  • Red - passion, warmth, intimacy

  • Orange - energy, innovation

  • Yellow - joy, creativity,

  • Green - relaxation, naturally soothing

  • Blue - calming, refreshing

  • Purple - luxury, sophistication

  • Gray - relaxation, peacefulness

  • Brown - relaxation, calmness, connection to nature

  • Black - boldness, power

  • White - cleanliness, purity, sterility

Bringing Nature Indoors

While there's nothing wrong with filling your home with modern conveniences, too much may leave the living space feeling sterile or impersonal. Such environments do little to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety. Psychologists recommend adding elements of nature to your environment to counteract a space that feels sterile. Bringing potted plants inside, keeping a bouquet of flowers on a table, and hanging paintings of outdoor scenes will help create a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Clear the Clutter

Clearing clutter is one of the most basic things you can do to improve a room’s vibe.  We tend to let things pile up here and there.  These eyesores affect our stress levels. You may not consciously be aware of it, but seeing clutter can cause you to tense up and feel anxious. Adding a cabinet space enhances the atmosphere and provide a place for storing papers, books, and other items.

Increase Natural Sunlight

The amount of natural light a room receives will also affect your mental state. Depending on how a home is situated, some rooms receive very little sunlight. Adding skylights can help, but there are also cheaper options. Try adding mirrors to the room, placing them at angles to capture the sun's rays. A mirror’s reflection also helps make a room look bigger.

Add the Illusion of Space

Rooms that are smaller and more confining can either be cozy or suffocating. If the room makes you feel claustrophobic, try to create more room. As previously mentioned, mirrors can add dimension to the room. Additionally, look for ways to leave the center of the room empty. Instead of a coffee table, add an extra end table. You can also add more artwork to draw the eye away from the size of the room.

Take Advantage of Aromatherapy

Adding scented candles is a simple, quick way to enhance a room's aroma. Alternatively, you might prefer investing in an essential oil diffuser. Whichever method you choose, look for scents that lead to a positive and relaxed emotional state. Lavender, cinnamon, and jasmine are just a few to consider.

Invest in New Furniture

If you're a crafty person, you might build your own tables or a chair from reclaimed wood. This brings your personal style to a room, and promotes a more welcoming vibe. If your sofa and chairs don't help you feel relaxed, consider selling them and buying something a little different. Your home should be a place to relax and unwind, so keep that in mind, when shopping for new furniture.
Paying closer attention to how your room makes you feel enables you to create a happier environment. People often tend to create a room by adding components that they like without giving thought to how those items will affect the overall environment. Visualizing possibilities of a living space will help you create something that feels good and welcomes guests openly.
Feeling the need for a major renovation?  Daniel Builders can assist you further as you process these feelings. 

Are You Asking?

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“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.” – Albert Einstein

Identifying a renovation contractor who “best fits” you and your project is a problem solving process.  Simplifying the process requires asking good questions.  And not just your questions, but questions the contractor asks as well.  You, as a customer, ultimately want to know “Am I getting value worth my money?”, while the contractor (at least a reputable one) wants to know, “Am I getting money worth my value?”  A “fit” happens when both sides can confidently answer “yes”.

Here are 7 questions to ask and answer before moving forward with a renovation.

How long will I live in the house I’m renovating? If you’re planning to move within 2 years a major renovation probably wouldn’t make sense.  You’re not likely to recoup money invested. 
How does the renovation process differ from contractor to contractor?Every contractor is different.  Knowing how long a renovation takes, the disruption it causes, how and when selections are made, how change orders are processed, the warranties offered, and other details about the process will help you match yourself with the right contractor.   
How much will I spend?  This may be the most important question you answer.  Coming up with a range is good, but a fixed price is best.  You may need to be educated on how much things cost, but don’t make an impulse decision.  Know your spending limits.
Where do I need help clarifying and describing the renovation I want?   If you need assistance, a design build approach gives you the best idea of what you’ll receive before actually starting construction.
What are reasonable expectations about service and responsiveness?  Expecting daily updates is likely overkill, but not hearing from your contractor in several days is not good.  Weekly communication should be the expectation.  Always wise to stay up to date with your renovation. 
What happens after the project?  Don’t fall victim to a disappearing contractor.  His role after the renovation is every bit as important as his role during it.  Should simple questions or major issues arise, you’ll want a contractor who is responsive to your concerns. 
What have other customers experienced?  Pay close attention when speaking with references.  Obviously, a contractor will provide positive references who say nice things about their work.  Which is helpful (identifying strengths), but you’ll also want to identify “red flags”, or areas where the contractor could improve. Asking a reference appropriate questions will help you figure out those details.  Also, check reviews. Anything you can learn about the contractor’s track record is beneficial. 

These are just a few questions, and they can vary. Just don’t miss an opportunity to ask.  Be professional, be specific, be straightforward, but always ask.  The big question is: What will you ask when your renovation depends on it?               

Invest in Trust

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Earlier this month we hosted approximately 60 guests at our first Lunch & Renovate event. 

For those unable to attend, our event was designed to build deeper relationships of trust. That should sound familiar because the tagline “Building Trust” is on our trucks and marketing material. This tagline has become somewhat of an obsession. We're passionate about establishing and protecting relationships of trust, which leads to some obvious questions. Why all the emphasis on trust? What Return On Investment (ROI) does trust offer?
After all, why obsess about trust when actual results are more important? (Short answer: the best results require trust. I’ll elaborate.)

Here’s 7 reasons why we obsess over building trust.   

  1. Trust Enhances Clarity. Clear expectations are established and fulfilled when there’s trust. This prevents unproductive habits of speculation and guesswork.    
  2. Trust Establishes Stability. "Surprises" can derail a project. A relationship of trust addresses small problems before they become big problems. The result is stability and decreased anxiety. 
  3. Trust Enables Efficiency. Trustworthy people follow through on commitments.  Less time is wasted “back tracking” to deal with incomplete work. 
  4. Trust Expands Potential. People who interact and operate on a strong foundation of trust accomplish more together than individually. If you want to tap into one of the greatest resources on the planet (people) you’ll need trust. 
  5. Trust Empowers Communication. Trusting someone means you ask and answer straightforward questions without feeling threatened. You can also listen wholeheartedly without doubts in your mind.   
  6. Trust Ensures Protection. A trusting relationships is characterized by “looking out” for the other person. That involves guarding against potential threats to their resources, reputation, or family.    
  7. Trust Endures Setbacks. Encountering problems is a great litmus test for trust. When bad things happen true relationships of trust are revealed, and real help can be provided.     

Bottom line: Trust Enriches Relationships.
We realize building trust requires time, patience and effort - all of which we gladly give to establish relationships. We also realize broken trust is hard to earn back. This is why we quickly acknowledge mistakes, and make every effort to correct them.  We are committed to seek, protect and ultimately build trust. In case you haven't noticed, your trust is quite valuable to us!      

Warm Weather Renovations

Believe it or not, nice weather is coming.

And when it does, how do you plan to enjoy it?  
Here are 5 renovations for soaking up more of the great outdoors.

1. Patio Doorways & WindowsOpen your home to a better view, more natural light, and pleasant outside temps by installing large patio folding doors. And when no thermostat is required, welcome those glorious temps inside with folding windows.

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2. Porches and Decks – They make going outside easy. And in case you’re wondering, porches are covered and decks are uncovered. A porch or deck renovation will add more space, aesthetic appeal, and value to a home.

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3. Gazebos or Pergolas – Relatively easy and inexpensive to build, these structures also add value to your home.  They provide a designated space for outdoor relaxing.  Pergolas offer more light with open rafters while gazebos have a covered roof for more shade.

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4. Hardscapes – Two words: Low Maintenance. Unlike grass, these hard surfaces won’t grow weeds or require water. Instead, this renovation enhances the visual appeal of your landscape, while providing more space for outdoor entertaining.

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5. Outdoor Kitchens – No traveling to a restaurant required.  Fine dining is waiting just beyond your back door. And strong food odors? These unwelcome guest stay outside.