When we bought our current house we dealt with a number of new contractors and home professionals and really got lucky with the people we had picked. If you need work done in Danbury, CT or surrounding areas these are the people you want to deal with.
Dave Ruscoe was recommended to me by the folks at Countertops by Starian which reinforces my philosophy that good people recommend good people. Dave is an easy to deal with guy who shows up when he says he'll be there, does a great job, and is cheaper than the other quotes I got. When you're having an entire house painted you're probably in a stressful situation by definition - dealing with Dave won't drive you nuts. Depending on the task at hand you'll also appreciate his contacts, he brought in a great wallpaper guy and someone else who made some invisible patches in drywall. Dave turned out to be my go-to guy for things that came up in moving into the new house.
Ramone is a great electrician and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. The first job he did for me was in the old house running a conduit from near the TV in the family room to the main part of the basement. It had to be miserable work in a cramped crawlspace and took most of the day, but he did it with a smile. A project I had wanted done for years was done, but there were signs that Ramone takes more care in his work than absolutely necessary. The way things were labeled and strapped down spoke of a person who takes pride in his work. When we bought the new house and I needed work done I knew I owed him some more pleasant work. I had him wire up outlets and lighting for my new workshop and run a few point to point conduits for future computer networking and home theater wires, upgraded some bathroom wiring, and then later some wiring for the A/C systems upgrade. Ramone did everything I asked of him and did a very neat job I am thrilled with.
Tower Generator sells a high end product (whole house standby generators) and they provide high end service to match. First you deal with Jay in sales, and he explains the options and tradeoffs in selecting a generator, but is also a voice of reason to stop you from going overboard. He doesn't put pressure on you and steers you to a good decision. If you have a more technical question you get to deal with Chris the owner. He's obviously enthusiatic about what he does and his attitude is to do whatever it takes for the customer (I'll go into that more in a minute). Then you get to deal with Rosanne who is in charge of scheduling everything. She is the kind of positive enthusiastic person that you wish everyone you deal with was like. To say that there is good team spirit at Tower Generator is an understatement.
Tower Generator sells the higher end home and commercial standby generators (Kohler and Cummins Onan) and because you depend on their product under the worst conditions they make very conservative choices for reliability - nothing would be worse than spending a lot of money for a generator and have it fail when you need it. The folks at Tower take care of you - I chose to use a local propane supplier to bury the propane tank and piping to the generator and while they did a lot of things very well, the way the pipe came up from the trench to the generator wasn't quite as neat as I would have liked. I sent a picture to the folks at Tower, they called the gas company for me, but hit a wall, so despite it not being their work they decided they were going to fix it themselves. I even mentioned to Rosanne that I was willing to take care of it myself and her response was "you're the customer, you shouldn't have to deal with it." When's the last time you ever heard that from a company! Now the outside installation is something they should be proud to place on their project gallery. There is obviously more to a quality generator install than just a pretty gas connection, but this was just one example of their attention to detail. I also requested some changes along the way and it would have been fair for them to add charges for some of them, but instead of nickel and diming me they included them as part of the service, they just wanted their customer to be totally satisfied. This is why the folks at Tower Generator belong on this page, they are a pleasure to deal with and won't drive you nuts.
When you hire John & Patty you have a great team working for you. Both are a delight to deal with and they are very good at listening to your needs and what you are looking for. Our first project with them was looking for the new house. They did a lot of research and showed us both existing houses and buildable land and always did so with a smile. After we found the new home the task then turned to preparing and selling the old home. There is a critical skill in putting a house up for sale and that is understanding the market and setting a reasonable expectation for the initial listing price. I've seen others who were given an over optimistic initial listing price by their agent which resulted in a property never being price competitive with the competition despite the owner agonizing repeatedly over each price reduction. This is where John and Patty shined - their initial suggested listing price was close enough that I never had to reduce it and the final sale price was in line with their initial estimate. In an already declining market in early 2008 my house went from initial listing to closing in around 2 months.
John and Patti work at the Scalzo Group in Bethel, and I credit the Scalzo Group with being forward thinking in what they could offer their customers. The group owns a moving truck which as a home buying customer they loan you for free for a weekend or sometimes more as available. We took full advantage of this for our local move and with doing the packing work ourselves and then hiring some help to move the big furniture we accomplished our move without too much hassle and for far less money than you'd expect in a house move.
A few years ago we hired Brookfield Plumbing and Heating for our bathoom gut job renovation and were very happy with them. So when we bought the new house and had some plumbing projects they were the obvious choice. One project was to replace a regular tub upstairs with an air jet tub, and they were able to do it without cutting a hole in the first floor ceiling which I had been told was likely. Doing so resulted in far less repair work afterwards which kept us on schedule. They also did a great job fitting a garbage disposal and instant hot water heater under the kitchen sink.
Kurt at ASI had a hurdle to overcome with me - I had a really terrible experience with the contractor who had installed A/C in our old house, so I was extremely suspicious of anyone I talked to after that - it had been a real nightmare. But Kurt was up to the challenge. In the end he did everything he said he would do just when he said he would. When I noticed a problem and because of the previous contractor expected a big fuss to get it dealt with, Kurt was on top of it and got it fixed with no fuss at all. We replaced both house builder grade A/C systems with top of the line Carrier Infinity systems with an optional heat pump and now in addition to being more comfortable and the system being much quieter, we use about half the heating oil that the previous owner did.
Before we even closed on the new house we knew we were going to paint the entire interior, but knowing which colors to pick was beyond our design skills. Seth Diamond (below) recommended Barbara. Barbara came to see the old house to get an idea of our style, then came to the new house with her color fan and came up with colors for each room. We were the most impressed with what she chose for the dining room where because of the way the light plays on the surfaces just two colors look more like five shades. She also picked wallpaper for the downstairs bathroom and an accent wall in the master bedroom. The bathroom wallpaper was a very large pattern which we were not at all sure of at the time, but she was totally right - we love it. We've since used her guidance in decorating our living room including drapes and furniture and are very happy with the results.
We had Countertops by Starian replace the countertops in the kitchen of the old house with Corian and were very happy with the results. They came in and took measurements, then on the installation day everything fit perfectly with no adjustments and no fuss, in and out in about an hour - made it look boring which is exactly what you want in a countertop installation. Later we used them to replace a vanity and countertop in the guest bathroom of the old house, apparently the vanity came damaged and they were on top of it and hustled for a replacement to meet our schedule without us ever seeing the problem. For the new house we didn't have much countertop work to be done aside from drilling a couple of holes in the granite at the kitchen sink (which of course they did very well), but they made a big contribution anyway - they recommended David Ruscoe for the painting.
Chip has the distinction of being the only one on this list who I've never met in person, everything was done by phone. He is an easy guy to deal with and guided me through the prequalification and mortgage process. The paperwork from his office was always where it needed to be and I always knew what was expected of me in the process. He made it easy and I got a great rate which is all you can ask of a banker. In the course of just one year the available interest rates dropped enough to make a refinance worthwhile and I went right back to Chip. He worked even harder for me the second time than the first - for a while we were in daily communication waiting for the rates to drop just a little bit more, in fact it was on a Sunday afternoon that he called me and told me he could give me slightly lower than my target rate if I started the paperwork NOW (I was happy to comply). In the end I got the lowest rate for a 30 year fixed no points mortgage that I've heard of.
Seth has been our financial advisor for a few years. Do you remember that ad from some company a few years ago where they said that there advisors become part of your life - well Seth IS that guy. When we were trying to buy a bank owned house and having a maddingly difficult time getting responses from the seller, Seth pulled out one of his contacts who finally got the process underway. He explained later that he waited until I was so frustrated that I was ready to walk away so I'd drive the hardest bargain. After a while I realized that he had saved us at least $10k. His bruises have healed, but he sometimes complains of back and knee pain, and to this day cowers at the sight of a "harmless" #2 pencil.
Once we were in the new house we needed some new furniture. For some things we found what we needed ready made, but the local furniture stores just didn't have what we needed for a few pieces. Then I found a secret - The Wood Bin which is a local unfinished furniture store will also finish a piece for you with your choice of finishes, but the even bigger secret was that at least one of their suppliers will customize a product for you for not that much more money! You can tell him that you want that end table, but make the top drawer deeper, or you want that entertainment center, but need it taller. And you end up with a piece that fits your needs perfectly in exactly the finish you wanted! When you're looking for that hard to find piece, The Wood Bin might be just what you need.