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.
Fancy scroll work wooden post of front porch in winter.
White-painted full-width porch and matching blanket of Michigan snow.
Acheson house in winter showing side entrance.
Jim Acheson’s childhood house front porch.
A fancy welcoming front porch.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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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!
Custom Cabinets with Alder Veneer — photo: Detroit Free Press
Custom Kitchen Cabinets and Island by Acheson Builders — photo: Detroit Free Press
Jim offers a homeowner remodeling ideas.
Custom cabinetry on display at Acheson Builders’ Home Show booth.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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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This was a calamitous event that our client experienced from a windstorm last March . . . a tree fell on their beloved screened 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.)
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Installation is complete . . . a different brand from the one that malfunctioned and burned the house, thank you very much!
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.
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!
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. . . . “
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.
Dexter Fire Department at scene of house fire. Damage was mainly confined to the home’s interior.
Fire-Damaged New Home to be Made New Again
Tragedy struck the owner of a new 3000 sq ft home in Dexter, Michigan earlier this year: a chimney fire forced him and his family to flee and damaged much of the house interior before being brought under control by local firefighters.
Fire began in chimney of fireplace.
After the smoke cleared and insurance company assessments were completed, the homeowner chose Acheson Builders to come to the rescue. Work has already begun to completely renovate the great room and other parts of the house.
Fire, smoke, and water-damaged walls and floor around fireplace chimney where fire began
Laborious Prep Work
Acheson Builders’ skilled carpenters and workers don’t often don hazmat jumpsuits but are doing so now in order to prepare the site for new construction. Among the first tasks has been to deal with fire- and water-damaged walls. A fire-damage specialist company had stripped out drywall material that had become waterlogged by firefighting efforts. This left wall studs exposed. Ordinarily this would provide a clean slate for installing new drywall, but thousands of drywall fasteners remained, jutting out from every stud where they had held the original drywall in place. Acheson Builders team members are having to remove all of these fasteners by hand, one by one.
Better Than New
After months of traumatic waiting following the fire, the beleaguered homeowner has told Acheson Builders how grateful he is to have his rebuild/remodel job in such good hands and that Acheson Builders had been singularly recommended as “the best remodeler in town.”
How it should look — and will again after Achesons Builders’ post-fire remodeling.
Acheson Builders recently completed a major kitchen remodeling project for us. They work very hard to avoid surprises (some surprises are inevitable when remodeling an older house) and to stay within budget. The quality of the design and the work itself are exceptional. We are very pleased with the results.
Jim and Marilyn Acheson are great people to work with and the men who worked on our project, Kevin and Ben, are terrific people whom we would welcome into our house any time.
This most recent project is the third time (over a period of about thirty years in three different houses) that we have worked with Jim on a kitchen remodeling project. We have never been less than satisfied.
Get Free Tickets to the Home Show Come visit us at the upcoming Home, Garden and Lifestyle Show March 21-22, 2020. The show is sponsored by Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor (BRAG)(click for more info). This event typically draws over 8,000 visitors from Greater Ann Arbor — including Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, Milan,… read more