What should you look for when choosing a contractor? Loren Schirber of Castle Building & Remodeling has 25 answers to that question. On the Castle Building website (castlebri.com) under the education center tab, click on “Video, Links and Documents” and you will find a detailed discussion of what makes a good contractor. Marty Schirber, Loren’s father and founder of the company, wrote the article. He begins by making sure you aware of the obvious: get several bids and use someone who is licensed and insured. But then he goes deeper. Rule No. 8, for example, encourages homeowners to know where the business is located. Could you find the contractor if you needed to search him out? Is the business part of your community?
If you are working with Castle Building in Saint Paul, the answer to those two questions is definitely yes. Marty Schirber founded Castle Building & Remodeling in 1977. Today the business employs 40 people and the company’s growth has been centered on a few neighborhoods. “We try to concentrate our work in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, where the majority of our employees live,” says Loren Schirber. “This makes it easier to manage multiple projects at once and allows us to be experts on the housing styles and the neighborhoods.”
Staying local has been a big part of managing success for Castle Building. Communication and planning are two other things Loren Schirber feels are important. He says they plan each project down to the last detail before starting, which gives them “a smoother process and fewer surprises.”
That becomes even more important in the strong real estate market in the Twin Cities right now. When home values increase, people feel comfortable refinancing and taking on bigger, more expensive projects, says Schirber. Bigger projects like second floors and additions are trends the staff at Castle Building is seeing.
Lisa and Gregg Egnash are recent clients. They put in a powder room and renovated the kitchen in their home in the Ramsey Hill neighborhood in Saint Paul.
“I really wanted to keep the historic details of the house when we redid the kitchen,” she says. “We had four or five contractors come talk to us, and they all wanted to talk about opening the kitchen up to the rest of house. I didn’t feel open concept was in keeping with the history of the house. Castle Building listened and worked with us. They were respectful.” And the house has some history to respect; according to Lisa Egnash, it is the oldest Clarence Johnston-designed house in the Twin Cities that is still standing.
No story about Castle Building would be complete without mentioning the “Castle Jumper.” The Castle Jumper is just what it sounds like, an inflatable bouncy house that looks like a castle. It is available for local fundraising events at no cost. Family-centered events are also a great place to reach folks who are likely to remodel. “It’s a win/win,” Loren says.
The Castle Jumper is also a good way to build a history of participation in the community. Item No. 10 on Castle Building & Remodeling’s list of things to consider when choosing a contractor is company history. They say you should look for a company that has had steady growth and is well-known in the community. As Loren Schirber says, “We try to hold ourselves accountable so that communication with our clients stays positive.”