I agree with the reviewer who said, “There are not enough stars here….” “Astounded” does not begin to describe how impressed we were when CJB built us a new home in Takoma Park. They exceeded our expectations in any number of ways, crafting a home that is handsome, elegant, and extremely well made. We experience a kind of serenity coming home to a gorgeous house that feels solid, secure, and enduring.
Other people have written reviews about CJB’s excellence in building. All those things are true of our experience as well. The quality of workmanship throughout our house is remarkable, every detail crafted with care and patience. From the exceptionally narrow grout lines between the bathroom tiles to the spectacular hardwood floors, everything is finely made to be both handsome and lasting.
But what I really want to emphasize in this review is that when you work with Cabin John Builders, you are not hiring an impersonal company to do a job for the money. Rather, you get to work with Josh and Neal Rosenthal, awesome people who really love to build high quality houses, to get things exactly right, and to make people happy through practicing their craft.
Josh and Neal are both incredibly hard working, upbeat, honest, and decent. In addition, they are both freakily smart and knowledgeable about building. In meetings to plan our house, when we asked if this or that could be done, they never said, “I don’t know about that” or “Let me look into it.” They just knew the answers right away. Once work started, in addition to a thorough knowledge of the big picture stuff like foundation, wiring and plumbing, they carried around in their heads the tiniest details of our project like the exact depth of the built-in bookcases in the front room, or the three different kinds of refrigerators we were considering along with possible colors for each one.
Josh and Neal were always available right away for whatever we needed. If we wanted a meeting, they could do it first thing tomorrow. If we emailed a question, an answer came within minutes. Although CJB was working on a number of simultaneous projects, it always seemed like we were their exclusive clients.
Josh and Neal always seemed to be enjoying their jobs. Working alongside people who have enthusiasm for all aspects of building was delightful. Josh and Neal were consistently supportive, patient, pleasant, gracious. Even when we were worried or anxious about a decision, we felt that Neal and Josh were always right there with us, determined to wrestle down any obstacle in order to make something lasting and beautiful that would please us. When we changed our minds or wanted something unusual, Josh and Neal were never impatient or annoyed. They didn’t see an aggravating problem but an opportunity to solve an entertaining little puzzle. If we wanted a quirky little item that they hadn’t implemented before, it wasn’t an unrealistic demand but a chance to add new expertise to their store of building knowledge.
CJB was astonishingly accommodating and flexible. We wanted any number of exceptional features to personalize our home. Whatever unique items we wanted, CJB incorporated them so that our home is a reflection of our individual loves and tastes. Whether it was researching and installing an unusual and immense Rumford fireplace or including a special under-the-counter compost bin, CJB gave us a home that reflects who we are and what we care about.
For example, when we fell in love with a magnificent European stargazing skylight that had been installed only once in the United States, we got the second one in our home. When our kids wanted Ninja-star coat hooks, they appeared in the mudroom cubbies. An elevator so that we could “age in place”? No problem. If we wanted extra time to shop for special features exactly to our taste, it was always fine. If we needed to make one last trip to Home Depot to examine 20 more different shades of yellow, the painters miraculously adjusted their schedules.
Nowhere was Josh and Neal’s patience and willingness to accommodate more evident than when it came to painting the interior. We had envisioned a particularly complicated color scheme. CJB encouraged us to choose exactly what we wanted even though I’m sure it was a huge hassle and cost them a lot of extra staff time. Neal spent hours and hours walking through the house with us and marking by hand every single wall, trim, window, baseboard, etc. in every room to be sure that the result was just what we wanted. In one room, our colors were so complicated they couldn’t be described in the standard room-colors chart the painters use. So CJB created, just for this one room, a personalized organizational format to communicate to the painters the precise location of each color.
Construction of the house appeared to occur with flawless coordination and scheduling. There were no delays because the electrician wasn’t available or the plumbers didn’t have the right equipment. When I talk to other people who have renovated or built, they always complain about the delays, the scheduling hassles, the awful permitting process, the mistakes contractors made. We experienced none of that whatsoever.
For example, we wanted an unusual and very large fireplace that required coordination with an out of town contractor traveling to the area to do some work. CJB took care of contacting the company, coordinating fireplace installation with the other construction elements going on, and, of course, making sure that the house design incorporated what this particular contractor needed for the special chimney and ventilation the fireplace required. I’m sure this was all very complicated but the implementation was flawless.
Josh and Neal went above and beyond the call of duty to get things done for us.
Once weather troubles threatened to make it impossible to install the driveway before freezing temperatures. Neal somehow got the driveway company to show up and do the work at a time of year when they normally would have closed up shop for the winter. This extra effort on their part avoided a tremendous personal inconvenience for us. It would have been easy for Cabin John to blame the weather and say there was nothing to be done about the problem. But they went the extra mile and, if there was an additional cost to CJB, we didn’t hear about it.
When the house was finished, we were given this superbly organized file box with all the handbooks and technical material on our appliances, furnace, generator, elevator, electrical equipment, etc. -- all in labeled folders with phone numbers to call if we needed help. Josh and Neal also insisted that they were not really saying goodbye. They consider our home their responsibility and if we had any problems, they would be right over to help us.
We highly recommend a custom built home if you care about personalized high quality design and workmanship. It’s the difference between owning a unique handmade piece of furniture and a buying a less expensive mass-produced item. It was particularly delightful to work with people animated by a love of their craft. We know that Josh and Neal will be equally excited at every opportunity to bring their artistry and ingenuity to a new and splendid creation.