What our clients have to say
Janice and Robert Holm
When Dr. Robert and Janice (Huwe) Holm decided to return to Athens County where Janice grew up, they hoped Janice’s mother would help them find a great building site in the country. Sammy Huwe, a long-time Athens County Realtor, found a hillside site with a beautiful view in southwest Athens County and suggested a good builder to boot.
“We love it up here. Tom did a fabulous job,” says Janice. “Our home has a very beautiful interior. He has beautiful clean lines and natural woodwork.”
Janice’s husband agreed.
“We are very happy with the house,” says Bob.” He does all the special touches that make it your house. He is very willing to work with you. He took an existing plan and modified it for what we wanted. He does great work and good workmanship.”
When the Holms decided to move to Delaware, they reluctantly decided to put their dream home on the market – it sold within a week.
“We were happy with what we got, but this house in a bigger market would have sold for a lot more money,” Janice said.
James and Crystal Montgomery
“Tom is very much a problem solver,” says Crystal. “When we first had the house bid by another builder it came in high and we were told the only way to bring the cost down was to exclude certain elements of the house, like the veranda and the garage. For goodness sake, they were a very integral part of the overall design — without them the house would be nothing more than a rectangle.
“When we found that Tom was available and asked him to bid the project, he immediately offered us several options to bring the price within budget without compromising quality or excluding anything,” she said.
The Montgomerys wanted a custom home but wanted to stay within a budget, Crystal said.
“We wanted a universal design with the wider halls and doorways. I wanted a large pantry,” Crystal said. “I wanted a European flair on the inside so I wanted arched doorways. My husband wanted a good sized whirlpool bath. It’s a very functional home.”
Despite their initial reservations about building a new house, the Montgomerys are very pleased with the result.
“He was always patient and thoughtful in regard to our concerns and questions, and he is highly respected by his crew and those in his profession. He cares about the house as much as you do. You know you are in good hands because he is going to insure the house is what you expected it to be. This was a huge thrill for us. We are looking forward to the next 20-25 years.”
Semiramis (Sammy) Huwe
As a Realtor in Athens County for many years, Sammy Huwe has shown hundreds of homes to prospective buyers. When her daughter Janice returned with her family to Athens County where she grew up, Sammy decided to purchase a lot near her daughter’s and build a home so she could be close to her grandchildren.
“Nobody builds homes like Tom,” says Sammy. “He’s the only one that I’d have build my home. He meditates on the land before building and he doesn’t do mass production houses.”
Working with Tom from start to finish and seeing her home come to life was a true joy, Sammy says.
“We didn’t have an architect and that saved me thousands of dollars. Tom is an engineer and he likes to work with his hands. He’s right in there with his workers.”
Sammy says her kitchen cabinets, built by local cabinetmaker Tom Bennett, are particularly pleasing now that she is living in her home.
“I wouldn’t trade my kitchen for the world,” Sammy says. “It wasn’t any more expensive than a factory kitchen.”
Mary Ann McClain
For Mary Ann McClain, Tom took a magazine design and modified it to suit Mary Ann and the house site.
“I am very happy with the house and with Tom,” says Mary Ann. “He was very easy to work with, very conscientious and professional. He paid attention to the smallest details and was a joy to work with.
“If I ever built another house I’d definitely use him again. I’d recommend him to anybody. There weren’t any surprises.”
Fur Peace Station, 200-seat concert hall
When Jorma and Vanessa Kaukonen went shopping for a contractor to build a concert hall for their music business, they didn’t have to look too far. They had purchased their Meigs County home from Tom and Lynn Lovdal and were quite familiar with Tom’s work. Tom had completely rebuilt the house following a fire and the Kaukonen’s were impressed with his craftsmanship.
“He did a superb job,” says Vanessa. “He’s an amazing contractor. I’ve never met anyone like him. He tells you what the job will be like. He completes it on time. There are no surprises. He’s very hands on. He had a lot of engineering insight. He was here every day.”
“We wanted the acoustics to be right and the whole inside is tongue-and-groove pine. For a very simple layout, Tom turned it into a magical facility. We both have enormous respect for Tom.”
Victor Davis and Jeannette Klein
Victor Davis and Jeannette Klein, a new professor in Ohio University’s School of Art, arrived in Athens from California and got some sticker shock of the good kind. When they began shopping for houses they discovered there is more bang for your buck in Athens County, according to Victor.
“Dollar for dollar there is no comparison to the houses we saw in California,” Victor says. “We looked at a bunch of houses in Athens and this was by far the best. We love it. I couldn’t say enough about Tom’s work. It is a solidly built house and the attention to detail was the best we’ve ever seen.”
Klein says he was particularly impressed with the energy efficiency of his new home.
“He puts a lot into making it eco-friendly,” Klein says. “Our gas bills are only $80 a month.”
And while Klein’s home is in a valley near a small creek, he says, “We had that terrible flooding in the fall and our crawl space stayed completely dry.”
“My mom has built 10 or 12 houses over the last 40 years and she was amazed with the craftsmanship. Everything was level and square and he doesn’t cut any corners,” Klein said.
Joyce Hanenberg and David Wight
Joyce Hanenberg and David Wight decided to build a home together in the country and Tom’s reputation preceded their home contruction.
“I knew that when we went to build I wanted Tom to build our house,” says Joyce. “He was very easy to work and communicate with. We had an architect and a plan and I remember Tom calling me and saying we have to change the bedroom because he had been thinking about it all night. We looked at the site and changed the bedroom location.”
Trust and taste were important in the building process, according to Joyce.
“He’s very honest. There are so many decisions to make when you are building a house and Tom has impeccable taste.”
Once the project was completed, Joyce and David were quite satisfied with their home.
“We got the feeling we wanted to achieve. A screened in porch, wrap-around porches — A modern day farmhouse,” she says. .
Herb and Mary Brown
Herb Brown has seen a lot of homes go up in Southeast Ohio. Herb has retired as a mason contractor after 32 years in the trade. In addition, he built the five area Crossroads stores in Athens, Nelsonville and Buchtel. Brown has worked with a lot of local builders, but he chose Tom to build his new home.
“Fortunately Tom had time in his schedule,” says Herb.”We bought a plan from Carter Lumber and Tom said there were a couple things we can do to make it better.
“We are very pleased with it. We had a couple problems and he came back and took care of it, just a couple of little things. Anytime I had a problem he’d take care of it.”
Jim and Sarah Cox
Jim Cox was close to retiring from Ohio University’s College of Business. Jim and his wife Sarah wanted to build their dream home in Athens County and after meeting with Tom they knew he was the one to build their home.
“The thing I was most pleased with was Tom’s great planning,” says Jim. “We had never built a house before, but we had an idea of what we wanted — lots of open space. He took our general ideas and made them operational by making some drawings. He was great to work with.”
Jim and Sarah played an important role in the process of building the house.
“While we were building, he’d say, ‘In about two weeks we need to think about plumbing or lighting fixtures,’ and we would go look for them at the store.”
When it was all finished, Jim and Sarah were quite satisfied.
“We have nothing but good things to say about the process and product. We particularly like the idea he builds one house at a time. When Tom builds a house, it is your house not Tom’s. He is on the job and he has good people working for him,” says Jim. “You hear so many horror stories where clients don’t like the builder in the end. We consider the Lovdals to be our friends.
Julie Libarkin and Michael Moore
Julie Libarkin and Michael Moore, both professors at Ohio University, had a hard time finding a house to suit them when they arrived in Athens until they discovered a home Tom was building on North Blackburn Road.
“There was nothing else even worth considering,” says Julie. “It was pretty much this house or nothing. We love the attention to detail. The hardwood that frames the doors and the windows give the house a warm feeling.”
Tom’s policy to provide assistance and advice for small adjustments after the home is built was very helpful for Julie and Michael.
“He was still answering questions for the first year,” says Julie.
James and Kathleen Masters
When it came close to his retirement from Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, James Masters had a pretty good idea of what he wanted in a retirement home and he hired Tom to build it.
“I had a design with the help of Bill Morgan, a local architect,” says Jim. “It’s a nice house, a very nice house. It has a lot of Pergo in the floor, treated deck wood, extra thick walls, 40- year shingles.”
Masters was intimately involved with the construction of the house as he lived in an existing home on the property near where the new home was constructed. The existing house was demolished once the new home was complete.
“We got what we paid for,” says Jim. “It was an interesting experience,” he says.
Jerry and Judy Friedman
Jerry and Judy Friedman researched areas of the United States from Ohio to Flagstaff, Arizona, before settling on Athens County as an affordable and beautiful area to retire. As experienced researchers – Jerry is a professor of European history at Kent State University and Judy teaches American history at Bowling Green – the two began talking with county “experts” about builders for their new home.
“We asked for recommendations from everyone from the bank to paint stores to anyone we could think of,” says Jerry. “There were three that were recommended and we interviewed all three and liked everything about Tom. He was very straightforward. He had very good suggestions and good ideas. He made a very good impression.”
The Friedman’s came to Tom with drawings of their dream home and Tom incorporated their ideas into the construction of the house.
“Of all the people we spoke to, Tom paid the greatest attention to detail. He gave the most thought to everything. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tom. This project went as effortlessly and everything was done as well as I could possibly imagine.
While Jerry said he could have shopped around for a cheaper contractor, he has no regrets.
“We paid a premium to work with Tom and we are happy we did. Tom is very good to his workers. He pays worker’s compensation and insurance and that was important to us.”
Jay and Mal Gunesekera
Jay and Mal Gunesekera checked references and sought several bids before selecting Tom to build their house. The Gunesekeras may be a little more particular than your average home buyer – Jay is head of Ohio University’s mechanical engineering department – but Tom’s engineering background, references and reputation proved to be the deciding factors in selecting him to build their home, Jay said.
“We heard about Tom through word of mouth,” says Mal. “We are very pleased with the house. He is very meticulous and he is very quality oriented. We designed the house and he did a good job overall. We got lower bids but we wanted quality.”