Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Home Construction Launches First Press Release

Good Home Construction launches it's first-ever press release. Take a look below:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SAVING HISTORY ONE HOME AT A TIME: ORANGE COUNTY
COMPANY GOOD HOME CONSTRUCTION FINDS GROWING NICHE
BUSINESS IN RESTORING HISTORICAL HOMES

Husband and Wife Taps Into Its Passion for Older Homes in Developing Its Business

ANAHEIM, Calif. – July 21, 2008 -- In the hands of contractor Chuck Kensicki of Orange County-based Good Home Construction, what is old is truly new again.

Good Home Construction is a boutique general contractor business that specializes in restoring and renovating vintage homes built before 1955 to their former glory. Kensicki founded the Anaheim-based company five years ago with his wife Katherine Wu.

Despite the housing crisis and recent economic slowdown, they have discovered a niche small business that has grown steadily in recent years. However, for them it’s not just a job. It’s a passion. They consider themselves advocates for restoring and preserving historical homes from a bygone era that were built with a care, craftsmanship and quality that is rare today.

“We hope with each job to preserve a piece of history,” said Kensicki, who handles the company’s general contracting duties with the help of three other full-time employees. “The people who own these old homes never want to move. They take such pride in their homes and have such a love for them. So I work with what is there and try to restore the past rather than just knock everything down. It’s hard work and it takes a lot patience, but it is very rewarding for me.”

In 1999, Wu read an article in Money Magazine about how people were fixing up homes and selling them every two years tax free and thought it might be a great idea for a business. “That article got me thinking that we could do the same thing,” said company CEO Wu, who oversees the financial aspects of the business. “Shortly after, I went on the Internet and looked at all sorts of homes. I finally found this house in the up-and-coming historic downtown core in Anaheim that seemed like a good possibility. I did a lot research on the housing market, prices and types of neighborhoods before we made our move. I felt that investing in a vintage custom home in a historic neighborhood might generate a better return on our investment because there will always be buyers looking for this type of home or neighborhood, and these homes could sometimes command higher prices because of their charming characteristics and uniqueness.”

A few months later, Kensicki and Wu bought their first house in the Anaheim Colony district in Anaheim -- a historical Spanish Revival bungalow residence that had been built in 1929 -- for $170,000. The house had undergone a couple of remodel efforts in the 1980s and was in pretty bad shape, but they recognized the hidden potential.

“You couldn’t even open the front door. The door swelled up and our key broke into the lock,” Kensicki recalled. “Inside it had green shag carpeting and the bedrooms were wall-to-wall mattresses. Even worse, the kitchen was torn up as were a lot of the cabinets. Some were gone. The drain was a five-gallon bucket. One burner worked on the stove. We really bought a shell of a place.”

They began working on the property while still trying to maintain their day jobs, but eventually Kensicki left his job to devote full-time to the restoration project. During the renovation effort, Kensicki said he found his real calling.

“I was unhappy in my office job. I went to college and did all the things you were supposed to do. Yet thinking back to my childhood, I was most happiest when I could work with my hands,” Kensicki said.

It took them nearly two years to restore their first home as they carefully renovated the hardware and woodwork in the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms to its original sheen and elegance. Kensicki credits the guidance of his grandfather, who had built his own first home in the 1920s, with helping them through the challenges of their initial restoration project.

“My grandfather pretty much taught me the ropes with the first house we bought,” Kensicki said. “If I had a question about something such as a building technique for example, he was our resource. He helped us focus on classic building techniques. We still met modern building standards and codes of course, but we stuck to the fundamental building techniques that always apply.”

They sold their first home for $390,000 after putting in only $35,000 to restore it. They used the profit from that sale to buy three more houses and soon they were on their way.

Wu added, “I wasn’t really sure it was a business until we sold our first home. Then we realized that we could actually make money doing this. This realtor we were working with also convinced us. She was shocked by the results of our work, as she had seen the house before we restored it. She told us that there are so few contractors in our area that do this kind of restoration work on old homes. That has been the key for us avoiding the fallout of the housing downturn. We really got in at the right time and found our niche.”

Spouses working together can typically be a recipe for disaster, but Kensicki and Wu said it has brought them closer and strengthened their relationship of 11 years.

“We came to realize as with any partnership that the only way for you to be successful is that you have to recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Wu. “We complement each other. He has stronger people skills and I am more business and detailed oriented. We are opposites but it works.”

Their advice for other couples that want to go into business together? Know your roles and stay out of each other’s way. “Make sure if you work with family members that one person is focused on the business side,” advised Wu. “All too often you see couples that want to start a business and they both want to be the leader. You have to establish roles from the beginning just like with any business.”

Since starting their company, they have worked on more than 75 homes throughout Orange County with many of them designated as historical Mills Act residences. Enacted in 1972, the Mills Act grants local governments (cities and counties) the authority to contract with owners of historical properties who have actively participated in the building’s restoration and maintenance while receiving a property tax break.

“We're very involved both personally and professionally with the Mills Act,” Wu explained. “Personally, we try to purchase homes that can qualify under the standards of the Mills Act because of the significant property tax breaks. But also, because it helps improve historic neighborhoods, and of course preserve what's left of OC's older homes.”

Wu added that they also help Good Home Construction’s clients secure Mills Act contracts by performing the renovations outlined by the city inspections.

Wu has employed her extensive technology background in developing a company Web site and blog. The blog has proved beneficial for the company in helping them showcase their work, update clients and potential clients about the status of current and completed projects, and to highlight their expertise.

“She spent long hours putting that together,” said Kensicki. “It has been well worth the effort. It has made a huge difference in our business. It has changed my life in that now clients can see how the work is progressing.”

Kensicki and Wu said that the biggest misconception their clients have is the length of time a restoration project will take.

“People don’t realize with the old building techniques we use it takes longer and costs more,” Kensicki said. “You find things you don’t expect. Some homes have been remodeled several times or the floors aren’t level and the drainage is corroded. You never know what you are going to find behind the walls of these old places. A lot of the materials we use are hard to come by and have to be ordered special. You can’t just go to Home Depot to pick up these kinds of supplies.”

The response from its clients to their work has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Our house was built in 1919 and had suffered major renovations in the 1970s,” said Cathy Ware, owner of a classic California bungalow located in Anaheim Colony that Good Home Construction renovated. “We originally asked Chuck to build custom wall bookcases between the dining and living rooms that had been destroyed by stonework. Later we asked him to tear down six brick columns in the front of our house and rebuild them in the same Craftsman-styled pillar manner of the bookcase buttresses inside. He also refinished our wood floors, installed crown moulding and exterior cedar siding, hung our windows, reconstructed our entry door, and renovated our kitchen. Chuck has kindly dealt with us making changes on almost everything he has done for us. His work is outstanding."

Angela Gutierrez, the owner of a 1925 bungalow in Anaheim Colony that Good Home Construction restored, also praised their work and attention to detail.

“Chuck renovated our main house bathroom, taking it from a dreaded 1970s green to a 1925 black-and-white period appropriate bathroom. He also renovated our carriage house bathroom and installed a multiple drainage system in the backyard. Every project he has worked on for us turned out as we envisioned,” she said.

Wu said they are looking to build on the Good Home brand with plans to launch a gardening service called Good Home Gardens and a fabrication business for vintage-styled wood doors, gates and windows called Good Home Studio.

“We don’t want to grow too fast,” said Wu. “If we take on more than two jobs at a time right now, we know the quality of work will suffer. It is a tough balancing act.”

For more information about Good Home Construction, please visit http://www.goodhomeconstruction.com or http://goodhomeconstruction.blogspot.com.


About Good Home Construction

Founded in 2003, Good Home Construction is a small Orange County-based general contractor business that specializes in the renovation, restoration and remodeling of vintage historic homes. The company’s founders and management team, husband and wife, Chuck Kensicki and Katherine Wu, have a real passion for preserving and restoring historical homes built before 1955. They have developed a stable list of clients who have benefited from the company’s hands-on approach to quality and architectural detail. Good Home Construction’s small staff of two to five full-time employees has worked diligently on a number of impressive historical residential projects, including historical Mills Act homes throughout Orange County.

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