Do-It-Yourself (with help)

The Old House Web

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Alice McCullagh, a builder/remodeler in New Jersey calls her business Lady on the Level, a name she says describes her company's philosophy: Providing information that is "on the level." 

McCullagh encourages customers to keep their cost down by doing much of the contracting and some of the labor themselves. She provides a list of materials needed and a delivery schedule. The customer orders, pays for and arranges deliveries. Customers are also encouraged to hire their own subcontractors, rent needed tools, apply for building permits and contract for trash removal.

She also encourages customers to put sweat equity into the job. She and her crew will teach homeowners building skills, billing their time by the hour or the day.

McCullagh says she came up with her novel approach to remodeling/building two years ago. Since restructuring as a project management/teaching service, she reports that about 40 percent of her customers opt for this approach. The numbers of non-traditional customers continues to grow, she says.

Her new business approach is part necessity, part inspiration. Finding reliable employees is difficult, and the work is too much for McCullagh to handle alone. "Hiring my customers works well for both of us," she says. "If I bring anything special to the job, it is an innate sense of what the customer wants and a desire to bring it to fruition."

McCullagh can be reached at:  Lady on the Level, P.O. Box 59, West Creek, NJ, 08092. Tel: 609-296-6535. Or visit herWebsite

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