Jim Acheson’s Welcoming Front Porch

March 23rd, 2018

Jim Acheson at the drafting table in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

A Builder is Born

Jim Acheson grew up in Michigan and developed a keen interest in craftsmanship from his jeweler father. This may explain how Jim developed his talent for meticulous attention to detail, while also learning first-hand what it takes to run an independent family business. As a kid, he wasn’t especially sure that he wanted to work as hard as he saw his family working — but of course no one would accuse the adult Jim of being anything less than the hardest-working builder/remodeler in town.
 
In Jim’s own words:

My passion for architecture started as a young child sitting on the porch of our family’s historic country home. I loved the intricacy of design and latticework on the porch filigree.

As I grew up, I’d frequently be found doodling architectural ideas on scraps of paper. I later went on to study architecture at the University of Michigan and worked summers for a local builder. After 3 ½ years of college, I had to break from school in order to earn more money to keep going. The builder I worked for taught me carpentry skills, but also was impressed by my eye for design. When that builder saw a commercial opportunity he wanted to pursue, he turned over his customer base in residential work to me, and I started my own company from there (way back in 1973!) I love bringing beautiful architecture and building to the Ann Arbor area.
— Jim Acheson

 

group portrait photo of family of five on porch

Jim and Marilyn Acheson (center) and children (l-r) Harvey, Kathryn, and Ross visiting Jim’s family home in 1999.

45 years later, Acheson Builders is still family-run, still making homeowners happy with its highly personalized approach to house building and remodeling. While contractors and builders in general have a sometimes shoddy reputation for leaving customers feeling underserved, Jim Acheson’s insistence on listening well, assigning an interior designer and lead carpenter to every job, and offering meaningful follow-through has helped make Acheson Builders a true standout in the field.

 


About Acheson Builders

Services Provided

Basement Remodeling, Bathroom Remodeling, Custom Home Bars, Custom Homes, Deck Building, Energy-Efficient Homes, Garage Building, Green Building, Home Additions, Home Extensions, Home Remodeling, Kitchen Remodeling, New Home Construction, Roof Replacement, Siding Installation, Structural Engineering, Sustainable Design, Custom Cabinets, Remodeling, Residential Home Builds . . .

 

Certifications and Awards

photo of James Acheson holding 2014 Keppler Award for Remodeling Achievement

Jim Acheson has been honored with the 2014 Keppler Award for Remodeling Achievement

Certified Graduate Builder, Certified Graduate Remodeler, Certified Aging in Place Specialist; Keppler Award for Remodeling Achievement 2014; Member of the Better Business Bureau: A+ rated.

badge award art and text Three Best Rated 2018 best business of 2018
Acheson Builders has been rated The Top 3 Home Builders in Ann Arbor by ThreeBest Rated two years running.

 

 

Michigan Areas Served

Ann Arbor, Barton Hills, Bridgewater, Dexter, Saline, Ypsilanti, Brighton, Gregory, Hamburg, Howell, Pinkney, Chelsea, Salem, Manchester, Plymouth, Northville, Whitmore Lake, Willis, Whittaker, Belleville, Canton, Dixboro.

Who Wants A Long-Lasting Trouble-Free Home?

February 26th, 2018

Jim Acheson, president, and Laurén McCabe, interior designer, discuss aspects of Acheson Builders’ unique approach to ensuring customer satisfaction — as well as their personal experience designing, building, and remodeling homes in the greater Ann Arbor area. Among the topics are these:

• Who Wants a Long-Lasting Trouble-Free Home? ( WE DO! )
• Favorite Aspect of Customers?
• In Remodeling, How Do You Know Where to Start?
• Design vs. Function

 

Come to Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show 2018 – Free

February 24th, 2018

montage of photos of Acheson Builders home show booth showing visitors, Jim Acheson, staff and examples of custom cabinetryFree Tickets to the Home Show

Come visit us at the upcoming Home, Garden and Lifestyle Show March 17-18, 2018. The show is sponsored by Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor (BRAG)(click for more info).

This event typically draws over 7,000 visitors from Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Ypsilanti and beyond. It features many examples of local remodeling and home & garden resources.

As in years past, Acheson Builders is pleased to offer you gratis admission coupons — get into the show free! All we ask is that you stop by the Acheson Builders booth and introduce yourself. (You’ll find us in the main building, right side. We’ll be the ones with the custom cabinetry and wall panel of featured projects! )  Just CLICK HERE to open a printable image for tickets OR download this PDF for printing — and we’ll be seeing you at the event!

photo of custom cabinets with alder veneer

Custom Cabinets with Alder Veneer —
photo: Detroit Free Press

photo of custom kitchen cabinets and Island by Acheson Builders

Custom Kitchen Cabinets and Island by Acheson Builders — photo: Detroit Free Press

 

photo of Jim Acheson with Guest at Acheson Builders booth of the Home, Garden, and Lifestyle Show in Ann Arbor 2015

Jim offers a homeowner remodeling ideas.

photo of custom-made blonde wood credenza with large end cabinet doors and three central drawers plus marble top

Custom cabinetry on display at Acheson Builders’ Home Show booth.

photo of custom wood four-sided kiosk showing use cases and step-by-step methods of Acheson Builders

Whether building a new home or considering remodeling your existing abode, Acheson Builders has a time-tested design & build process for you to take advantage of. Come to the Home Show to see case study examples from the many homeowners we have helped!

 

Certificate of Excellence

February 3rd, 2018

award certificate from ThreeBestRated for excellence 01-01-2018 Acheson Builders

 

Acheson Builders is proud to receive this certificate of excellence from ThreeBestRated®. Chosen one of three best home builders in the greater Ann Arbor area — for the second year in a row. 

Criterion for the selection and more information can be found here. Or look us up on the ThreeBestRated® website

What can we do to make your home building or remodeling project an excellent reality? Contact Acheson Builders today

Three Best Rated – Again!

February 2nd, 2018

Acheson Builders has also been honored to be chosen as one of the three best rated home builders in Ann Arbor, for two years in a row by ThreeBestRated®.

Best Home Builders in Ann Arbor, MI

These are the handpicked Top 3 Home Builders in Ann Arbor, MI. How does ThreeBestRated® find the most highly rated home builder? Its 50-Point Inspection includes everything from checking reputation, history, complaints, local reviews, nearness, satisfaction, trust and cost to the general excellence. That’s not all . . .  businesses do not pay ThreeBestRated® to list them. ThreeBestRated® believes that customers deserve only the best!

Acheson Builders gets high marks from me. They were well organized and respectful of my home. Every few days I was given an update of who would be working and what they were doing. If there would be a change in plans Jason, the project manager would call to update me. Their attention to detail in this bathroom project was outstanding – from the first planning visit by Laurén to the final inspection by Jason. They will definitely be the team for my next project.

— another satisfied Acheson Builders customer

Source: ThreeBestRated®

Also see our Certificate of Excellence from ThreeBestRated.

What can we do to make your home building or remodeling project an excellent reality? Contact Acheson Builders today

Best Customer Service in the Houzz – Again!

February 2nd, 2018

ACHESON BUILDERS Awarded “Best of Houzz” 2018 for Customer Service

Houzz Rules: Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,
Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World.

Acheson Builders of Ann Arbor, Michigan has won “Best of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform  for home remodeling and design. The 45-year old Design and Build firm was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2017. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2018” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“We are honored to be chosen once again for 2018, as one of the Best of Houzz winners, just as we were in 2017. We work hard to achieve the highest level of integrity, customer service, and outstanding designs for our clients”, stated Marilyn Acheson, Vice president of Acheson Builders.

“The Houzz community selected a phenomenal group of Best of Houzz 2018 award winners, so this year’s recipients should be very proud,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “Best of Houzz winners represent some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry, and we are extremely pleased to give them both this recognition and a platform on which to showcase their expertise.”

Follow Acheson Builders on Houzz houzz.com/acheson-builders

About ACHESON BUILDERS

Besides winning the Best of Houzz, two years in a row, Acheson Builders has also been honored to be chosen as one of the three best rated builders in Ann Arbor, for two years in a row by ThreeBestRated®. Celebrating 45 years as a renowned, yet small, family-run business, they have highly acclaimed designers, creative problem solvers, and remarkably talented project managers and craftsman who help bring great ideas to reality. They have focused not just on great buildings, but on building great relationships with their clients, their team, and their community, and this has been the reason for their success.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Tokyo.

Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

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Windstorm Damaged Porch Restoration

December 8th, 2017
photo of fallen tree having smashed roof of exterior of enclosed porch prior to restoration by Acheson Builders

This was a calamitous event that our client experienced from a windstorm last March . . .  a tree fell on their beloved screened porch!

photo of exterior of enclosed porch

Acheson Builders’ team was called in: we rebuilt and rescued this wonderful space. Our client was happily able to enjoy the three-season porch again for most of the summer and fall. (Now closed up for the winter.)

photo of interior of enclosed porch rebuilt by Acheson Builders

This is the interior of our client’s fully rebuilt and restored (by Acheson Builders) three-season screened porch. You can see why they love being in this room often, throughout the spring, summer and fall.

 

Out of the Embers Update: A Truss-Worthy Builder

December 4th, 2017
photo of smoke rising out of suburban house in Dexter, Michigan prior to restoration by Acheson Builders

Fire broke out, was thought extinguished, then returned at this Dexter home.

Progress Restoring Fire-Damaged Home

Good news! The Dexter, Michigan home that suffered a fire earlier in 2017 is nearly rebuilt and restored.

The fire, which began one night in the living room where a new gas fireplace apparently malfunctioned, resulted in no injuries but wreaked significant damage to walls, ceilings, a large portion of the roof, and to floors throughout the two-story structure.

photo of fire engines and fire fighters standing together at scene of house fire that was later rebuilt by Acheson Builders

Fire engines and fire fighters on scene at this home in Dexter, Michigan prior to second outbreak.

The damage that even a small, contained fire can inflict on a house affects more than those portions that actually burn; smoke can permeate all materials and parts of a house, and fire fighters’ water and fire-extinguishing material can cause its own unique form of destruction. This home was no exception.

photo of Acheson Builders crew members up in roof section fastening framing pieces during reconstruction of house in Dexter, Michigan

Crew securing trusses and finishing framing.

For this job, Acheson Builders proposed a plan for both restoring and remodeling the house (see earlier blog report on this project), and began work in July, 2017. Initial work focused on removing damaged materials remaining after a previously hired fire-disaster company had​ removed drywall in affected areas. Acheson Builders unscrewed thousands of projecting drywall fasteners which had been​ left behind​ by the prior drywall removal​, stripped out all smoke or water-damaged insulation in walls and in the attic, and removed wiring and plumbing that was affected by the fire.

That left . . . the odor . . .

Smoke Smell — How to Lose the Burn

Special treatment was undertaken to ensure that all vestiges of smoke damage were eradicated. This required hiring a company that specializes in deep cleaning to be conducted​ in​ multi-step process. First was a patented Hot Thermal Fog™ treatment to open up the pores in the wood (see sidebar “Makeover for Smoke-Damaged House“), followed by thorough cleaning and deodorizing with an ozone and hydroxyl treatment. After this, a sealant was sprayed over everything: all remaining exposed wood, wires and pipes, etc., to prevent any residual smell from escaping. This included the entire attic, where a lot of smell had traveled beyond the burned area.

Yet another company was employed to clear out and certify all of the ductwork, to ensure NADCA standards.

Acheson Builders then re-installed insulation in all areas where it had been removed or where needed.

Roof and Framing

Then we brought in the crane. Crane? No, we did not employ a large, long-necked bird, but brought in a construction crane for removing and replacing seriously large structural trusses for the roof​ in the central part of the house​.

photo of fully deployed crane ready to lift materials onto fire damaged house being restored by Acheson Builders

Construction crane in use during framing and roofing phase of restoration.

(Quite a few remodeling jobs could benefit by a having a crane available but cannot accommodate one, due to site features such as hills and trees; this site was well suited to use of a crane.)

photo of truck-mounted construction crane ready to lift trusses and plywood onto fire damaged house being restored by Acheson Builders

Construction crane in use during framing and roofing phase of restoration.

Now the roofing has been completed, damaged walls re-framed, and new sheet rock fastened on. All exterior work is complete: framing, roofing, siding, paint — all protected and done.
 

New Fireplace

Installation is complete . . . a different brand from the one that malfunctioned and​ burned the house, thank you very much!

Basement Remodel

Extra remodeling, not related to the fire,​ has been undertaken in the basement.​ The owners decided they may as well have the basement finished (a project that they originally had planned to do a few years down the road) while we are already at the home doing other restoration.​ New walls are now framed and drywall will be installed by the time you are reading this. Then comes the fun work of installing all the finishes.​
 

Next Steps

Believe it or not, further smoke odor treatment is needed — to the floors and underlayment. Once done, floor finishes can be completed. After that, tile work will be undertaken. And then there is the exterior: follow-through work includes cleaning up garden beds and re-mulching them. Even these areas were damaged by the fire, firetrucks, and initial demolition processes (before Acheson Builders had been called in).

Check this space in​ the near future for more updates!

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Makeover for Smoke-Damaged House 

Hot Thermal Fogging as defined by CleanFax Company

“Thermal fogging most closely approximates the very small size of smoke particles, driving the particles deep inside tiny cracks, crevices and pores of surfaces, just as the original smoke deposits were created.

When properly created and applied, thermal fogging delivers excellent odor control. . . . “

Source: http://www.cleanfax.com/restoration/effective-thermal-fogging/

Gallery: Whole-House Remodel of 1840s Historic Old West Side Home

October 6th, 2017

Around the Town 2016: an Interview with Jim Acheson

October 5th, 2017
photo of Pete Nowakowski and Jim Acheson in radio studio for Lucy Ann Lance interview 23 September 2013

(l-r) Pete Nowakowski, Jim Acheson

In this in-depth interview with Jim Acheson, founder and president of Acheson Builders, Lucy Ann Lance discusses the 2016 Remodelers Home Tour, the Acheson Builders design style, and a particularly challenging older-home remodeling job at 2037 Winstead in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This traditional 1970s home harbored a claustrophobic dinette and u-shaped kitchen until Acheson Builders gave it a new life. 

Joining the interview is Pete Nowakowski, Marketing and Communications Director of Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor (BRAG).

The Remodelers Home Tour was co-founded in 1989 by Jim Acheson and is organized by the BRAG Ann Arbor.

Running time: 12 minutes, 45 seconds. Courtesy of Lance & Erskine Communications
logo for BRAG - Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor


 

2017 Remodelers Home Tour

Don’t miss Acheson Builders’ entry in the 2017 Remodelers Home Tour442 2nd Street, Ann Arbor — A whole-house remodel of an historical home, Old West Side, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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