Exeter resident started company in 2008
EXETER — For Pat Driscoll, honesty and integrity is as important for his business, Star Island Builders, as the relationship he forms with clients who bring him into their homes to envision a new living space.
Driscoll speaks about his mission statement as another would speak of their personal creed: to provide the highest quality of work in a timely, moral, and professional fashion to individuals who are looking to improve and preserve their living environment.
“In New Hampshire there is no contractor’s license requirement and I think that is bad,” Driscoll said. “I encourage my customers to get a building permit, even if it’s not an obligation, so that you have an unbiased eye protecting you.”
Driscoll said building inspectors are looking out for your best interest and will act as a check and balance for the unlicensed environment where anyone can start a limited liability company.
“In a positive light, your reputation gets you through sustained work and slower markets,” Driscoll said. “In a negative light, it will even cost you your business.”
His experience as a member of the Exeter Zoning Board of Adjustment helps him when applying in other towns for customers who want a variance, or non-permitted use, for a project as well as giving advice for potential and current customers who wish to pursue a hearing or choose other avenues.
Driscoll started his business in 2008 because he was ready to make his own decisions and form relationships with his customers that weren’t mediated by contractors. He prides himself on being available to customers on a daily basis, and encourages them to collaborate closely with him on projects.
“I wanted to provide customers with a good experience remodeling their home,” he said. “It’s not just the quality of work you do, but the relationship and communication you have with your customer.”
His aesthetic focuses on “open concept” styles of remodeling, with interconnected rooms that provide an expansive sense of space to customers looking to make their vision a reality. He uses Google Sketchup to create 3D models of the projects for homeowners to see the project before he starts.
Additionally his expertise centers around remodeling historic homes from the 17th century onward, showing off the renovation of an 1890s two-family home in Exeter that he rehabilitated with vaulted ceilings and skylights in the kitchen.
“I like taking small homes and opening them up to make more of an open concept,” Driscoll said. “With old homes, we fit them with modern amenities while still keeping the historic feel.”
Driscoll works to outfit the house with energy efficient insulation and Energy Star appliances, so that customers can realize a return on their investment, even with the dubiousness of the housing market.
“Normally, the popularity of home remodeling coincides with the housing market. When people see more value in their homes, they are willing to invest,” Driscoll said. “Historically people look to renovate in the spring, but it has been on a roller coaster ride this spring. The winter was better than expected.”
The summertime, which is traditionally slower, Driscoll has seen a lot more people seeking estimates.
His business not only tries to save energy for the homeowner, but chooses to purchase local materials like pine flooring.
“The trend in my projects is to use local pine, so you aren’t paying the energy costs to ship flooring from South America and it helps support local businesses,” he said. “I have a great relationship with Exeter Lumber and use them exclusively as a lumber yard.”
While he tried to do it all by himself in the beginning, there came a time that things were moving quicker than he could keep up with. He hired college students for the summer, but it wasn’t until 7 months ago that he found an employee that was adept and really believed in his mission statement.
“His vision and the way he likes to do things is in step with what I like to do,” said Parker Cook, Driscoll’s assistant carpenter. “In my interview the first thing he said was that he didn’t like to hear the phrases, ‘Good enough for my house’ or ‘It is what it is.'”
Cook, whose father, grandfather and two uncles are carpenters, enjoys being a carpenter for the creativity involved in the process and the chance to enjoy the weather when he can.
“It’s been a pretty good fit so far,” said Cook. “I think of what his goals are and every company wants to be successful, but he wants to be successful for the right reasons.”
Star Island Builders at www.pdrrnh.com.
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