House as Story

At The Farlow Group, we understand that you are building the experience of how you want to live in your house. The narrative is unique to your life. Let us help you write your story of home.

Expensive Contractor

We had an interesting visit recently from a publisher who stopped by to invite us to advertise in a yearly publication distributed to hotels, offices, and other venues.  He was complimentary about the quality of the ads he has seen from us over the years, and asked what our results had been.  I had to inform him that our “image campaign”, as the process of advertising has been termed by a local professional, has mostly resulted in the interpretation of  our image as being that of an expensive contractor.  He laughed and said that he had assumed that we were quite expensive as well. We have discussed this dilemma among ourselves at various times and come to the conclusion that trying to cheapen our image is not realistic when we keep doing such a great job.  Kidding aside, our portion of the cost that results in those beautiful images is no more expensive than less detailed contractors charge.  We are neither cheap nor expensive.  We do what our clients ask and leave them feeling great about the results.  Your job will LOOK expensive–which is not a bad thing, right?  

New Design Build Services

The Farlow Group is excited to announce that we have further simplified our project development process for our clients by making available the use of a Professional Services Agreement. This document gives potential clients the option to work with our firm while their home construction or renovation project is being explored for design, specifications, and costs. We can then execute a contract for construction when our client is ready to proceed. This procedure reduces the personal time and energy that clients must put into exploring service providers and keeps homeowners and contractors focused on the same goals in a transparent framework.

Systems and Standards

Before anything takes place at the site, well developed systems and standards are needed to govern all aspects of the building process. A builder should be able to list several methods of quality control in place at the firm. There are key elements indicating the standards in place at the building site during each stage of construction, including clearing of the lot and installing the foundation, but it is during the framing stage that a builder can really begin to point out quality features in a walk-through with the client. Good materials and tight tolerances are the rule. Bracing and fasteners abound. Experience tells us that stronger materials and bracing in particular spots in the structure are desirable to reduce movement. Wood is a natural material and is subject to movement by taking on and giving up moisture. Good builders and their staffs welcome the opportunity to point out their systems and the little extras that yield quality results. If you are interested in building your first home, spend some time gaining an understanding of what quality looks like. It is knowledge that will serve you well over the course of owning what will probably be several homes in your lifetime.

Hiring For Home Maintenance

 You have found a contractor, handyman, painter, electrician, etc., that you want to hire to work on your home. You have asked a number of questions, confirmed he or she has insurance, and checked their references. The next big question is whether to pay a deposit upfront and how much, right? Well perhaps, but let’s go back to the insurance issue. Did confirming that the service provider has insurance (general liability and worker’s compensation) consist of you asking if they are insured and them saying “yes”? That is only step one. The next question is, “Can you have your agent mail (or fax or email) me a certificate of insurance for general liability and worker’s compensation?” Unless the proof of coverage comes directly from a bona-fide agent, there may be no actual coverage, or it may not be current. Sometimes the service provider will hand you a photocopy of the cover page of their policy. This is also not proof of coverage. The policy may have lapsed. Plus, unless you know a lot about policies, you may not really understand what the document they show you is for and what it covers. It may seem like a bargain to hire a friend or neighbor to make repairs around the house, but if they are not insured and make a mistake causing damage, or get injured, the bargain can turn into big trouble. Many homeowners assume they have personal liability coverage under their homeowner’s policy if someone comes on their property and is injured. For guests at your home, yes you have liability coverage on your homeowner’s policy, for hired persons, no benefit! This includes your neighbor’s child who mows the lawn. A handyman or sole […]

The Essential Component

INTEGRITY.  Clients need to know that their builder possesses integrity in his business relationship with them, with trade partners, with regulators, and with finances.  Builders build homes to make a profit, an essential element in maintaining a business, but also for the creative reward they feel from making a really good product and having clients speak well of them.   A good contract document that balances the responsibilities of both parties helps to clarify understanding, but a document cannot impose integrity. There will be challenges to overcome with any custom design.  Bringing together thousands of components assembled by dozens, or even hundreds, of craftsmen in a one-of-a-kind setting will present some obstacles.    A good builder is constantly refining techniques and systems to improve his process not only because it improves his referrals, but because he enjoys doing business that way…with integrity.   A good businessman wants to know when his clients have concerns so he can help them find solutions.  Good communication happens much more easily in a climate of trust. The Farlow Group has been blessed with many clients who call on us for multiple projects.  We consider their continued patronage and referrals to be the highest form of compliment.  As the testimonials on our website convey, clients value their ability to trust in our relationship as much as they do the enjoyment of their homes.  To us, integrity is an essential component in building homes.

A Network of Friends is For More Than Just Facebook

The business of being a general contractor is, basically, bringing the needed resources to a project at the time they are needed.  Obviously there are thousands of details that go along with what happens both before and after the issues of what and when.  Who, how, and why being among them. So where does a contractor committed to excellence turn for resources to enhance his skills and improve his knowledge and methods to benefit his clients?  Professional organizations are a great source of knowledge, and an opportunity to connect with colleagues to draw on their experiences as well. At The Farlow Group, we belong to a local buying cooperative, Cape Fear Builders Guild , to enable us to obtain collective pricing from selected vendors.  The concept began as a way to allow a group of contractors to function as independent businesses, but achieve the attractive pricing options from suppliers that might otherwise be reserved only for large tract builders.  That concept has certainly been beneficial, but along the way, the group members have also become friends and developed an appreciation for one another as colleagues with common problems and interests.  At the national level, Jim Farlow is a member of the National Association of Home Builders program known as Builder 20 Groups.  Membership in the Builder 20 program joins builders from around the country together in groups of up to 20, to share any information that will enable the members to improve their businesses.  Groups can also function like a board of directors to solve problems by one member posing a question to the group and opening a discussion.  Because members of each group are from non-competing markets (different states or geographic areas), information […]