The Cook Bros. Blog

A Total Transformation

Transformation-Kitchen-Remodel-Knoxville

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When thinking about your home have you ever thought to yourself, “This space just does not work for our family and I wish I could…”? I would venture a guess that if that has crossed your mind you are in the majority with most homeowners. Think about it…most families live in a home they did not build specifically for themselves and even if they did there is a good chance that over time the needs of the family has changed. What that means is nearly all of us are living in homes that are imperfect for our lifestyle, family makeup, etc. Since we spend most of our time at home shouldn’t it be a place that fits us?

Today I’d like to introduce you to some fine folks we recently worked with to do just that; remodel a 1950’s house that had been handed down to them into a home that worked for their family and their lifestyle. With four children and their lifestyle the kitchen just did not work for them and was a source of displeasure. The space existed to expand the kitchen into, but it took some imagination, coordination and a great deal of work to make the dream come to fruition. End result – a kitchen that suits them to a T and that blends in with the original structure seamlessly. Perfection! Listen to the Scott’s side of the story here.

If you are considering a remodeling project at your home complete these sentences before you call an architect, designer or a contractor:

1.       If given a blank slate, in this area I would _____________.

2.       Most of the time we would use this space for _____________.

3.       Our least favorite part of what we have now is ______________.

4.       I’d be willing to invest _______________ to turn this into a space that is useful and enjoyable for my family.

5.       The most important facet of the project that I’d be unwilling to give up is ________________.

Answer those questions and now you are ready to take the next step. We’ll be prepared when you are ready to make that call!

kitchen-remodel-knoxville-facebook

Spring in the Air

Spring-Cook-Bros-Construction

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As I sit and pound this out on the computer it is early morning and I am enjoying one of the first mornings this year where I can comfortably leave the window open in my office. The birds are doing their pre-dawn chirping and there are still some bugs chiming in with a song of their own in the background. It’s music to my ears after the what has seemed like an incredibly long and harsh winter. Even the smells coming in through the window tell me that soon we will be enjoying sun-filled warm days that enable us to work and play outside much more enjoyably.

With the arrival of spring, believe it or not, your home is also smiling a bit on the inside. That winter that was so hard on you really took its toll on your home. Imagine standing outside all winter taking the beating of all of the elements, all the while trying to stay warm and dry inside. Doesn’t sound like a fun job does it? That’s exactly what we ask our homes to do every year…after year…after year…after…ok, you get the picture. It’s rough. How your home responds to the curveballs thrown at it depends on its age, quality of components, quality of the installation of those components and how well you keep it maintained. Here at Cook Bros. we are huge fans of using the best products for the application, installing them properly and making sure that we specify components that require as little maintenance as possible. Let’s face it, you have better things to do than home maintenance. Just remember that “low maintenance” does not mean “no maintenance”!

To help your home exit the doldrums of winter and enter the beauty of summer HGTV has put together a list of spring maintenance tips. You can find them here at the HGTV website and I encourage you to print this out and make these a yearly routine. One tip I would add is to fully check your crawlspace or basement if you have one. I know that no one wants to get in their crawlspace, including yours truly, but it must be done. Moisture accumulation and insect/rodent infestation are common over the winter, especially in East Tennessee with all of the moisture we receive. A small problem becomes a really big problem if left unattended, simply because you did not know it was there. Don’t let that be you.

I can see faint light appearing over the treetops, so it’s time to get to work on someone’s dream!

Spring-Contractor-Knoxville

Cook Bros. Roofing: See a Need, Fill a Need

Cook-Bros-Roofing-Blog

Where were you the night of April 27th of 2011?

No, this is not a Law & Order interrogation, so your exact whereabouts that night can be kept secret! However, if you were in many parts of East Tennessee you experienced one heck of a hailstorm and all sorts of damaging weather. Many folks lost power, experienced heavy damage to vehicles parked outside, and sustained incredible exterior damage to their homes. It was a night many of us won’t forget.

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Here at Cook Bros. it is the aftermath that we will never forget. Overnight we had 60-80 calls for help from friends, clients, and all sorts of people referred to us by their friends to help with their storm damage. Not being a restoration company and not having training on how to work with insurance companies and their adjusters presented immediate problems for us. The most imminent difficulty we faced though was getting the personnel to do the work and to do it properly. Overnight Knoxville and the surrounding areas were flooded with storm chasers and they would stay for a year or more. These storm chasers for the most part had one goal: install as many roofs at as high a margin as possible as fast as possible and get the heck out of Dodge. That’s a recipe for disaster for the consumer who needs their roof fixed or replaced.

Fast forward 2.5 years and the scars from that storm are nearly forgotten, but as the storm chasers have left town there is a gap to be filled by a locally owned company with integrity to install roofs on residences in our area. At Cook Bros. we have decided to fill that need in the community by adding another arm to our family brand in the form of Cook Bros. Roofing, LLC, “Covering What Matters Most”. Our goal is simple: provide a level of professionalism, expertise and service that is unheard of in the largely unregulated residential roofing industry. We will not be the cheapest or the fastest, but in the heaviest of downpours you will be glad that you hired professionals to install your roof. The damage that can be sustained by an improperly installed roof is incredible, whether in a very short period of time or with a leak left unfixed. Studies by GAF (North America’s Largest Roofing Manufacturer) indicate that 2 out of every three problems with a new roof are due to the workmanship of the contractor, not the roofing materials. I’d go out on a limb and say many of the other problems are caused by roof framing shortcomings, but that’s a story for another day!

So if you or someone you know believes a new roof may be in order or there are repairs to be made, maybe around a chimney or a dormer, then please do contact us.

PHONE: 865-233-7811
FAX: 865-233-7812
www.cbroofs.com

Spring Reminder:

Make sure all of your gutters, gutter helmet (if present) and valleys on your roof are free from leaves and tree debris. These will cause backup and can cause premature failure of shingles, water leakage, plywood rot and fascia rot. This is a job best left to the professionals as every year thousands of homeowners cause serious injuries to themselves trying to do this maintenance. A good handyman is worth his weight in gold for this home maintenance. Be safe out there!

Cook-Bros-Roofing-Knoxville

A Comfy Snow Day in Your Custom Home

Comfy-Snow-Day

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If you are sitting here with me in East Tennessee today, then this morning you probably woke up to at least 6” of snow and being homebound for the day. The snow accentuates the beauty of our area for sure! It forces us to slow down, enjoy life a little, and maybe evaluate all that we have going on. It’s a day to pause and take stock of our surroundings.

Right now we are building homes in Seymour (Sevier Co.), Alcoa & Maryville (Blount Co.), Knoxville (Knox Co.) and Tellico Village (Loudon Co.) and performing multiple remodeling projects in Knoxville. Consequently we are very, very busy and GRATEFUL for all of the folks that have put their trust in us to bring their dreams to fruition. However, the weather this winter has been less than cooperative; by March I think we may be buying Just For Men in bulk for our project managers! We are more than ready for some warm, dry weather so we can start making some time, as we have many projects to wrap up and even more waiting in line for us to get started.

To help remind us of sunny days, today I bring to you for your viewing pleasure a custom home that we completed this past August in St. Thomas Subdivision in Alcoa. Our clients were moving here from Nashville due to a job transfer and were introduced to us by their relocation specialist Realtor. As with any relocation, they had a very tight timeframe to get the home completed in to take advantage of the company benefits, and they wanted to make sure they built a home that fit their lifestyle and tastes, but also could be sold easily if they were transferred again. It was with these parameters that we set off to make it happen! We assisted them in selecting the right location and lot based on the idea of the home they wanted to build, and then we helped them to select a nice stock plan to build from that we could personalize in the field. After estimating the home and developing a set price contract, we were off and running to build a top-notch, personalized custom home in less than 5 months! Take a look at the video and see if you think we met our goals. On a day like today I am certain they appreciate the energy efficiency and comfort in every room provided by a CBC-built home. I imagine that today they are cozied up in front of the fire in the living room enjoying the beauty of their new home and East Tennessee!

If you or someone you know happens to be in the market for a home similar to this one, with all of the primary living areas on the main level, then we have several options coming available in two different locations. One home will be located in the same St. Thomas Subdivision in Alcoa and one in the Tommotley neighborhood in Tellico Village. Both homes will feature our complete energy efficiency & home comfort package and will include three-car garages. These homes will both be ready for move-in by June. If you are interested in what we are building, we would be happy to send you a copy of the plans and specifications, no questions asked. Please send those requests to smccarter @cookbrosconstruction.com, and we’ll be happy to forward the information on, even if you are not interested in these particular home locations. We expect these homes will be quickly under contract as other homes have been in these locations, so time is of the essence if you are interested!

Now, go out and have a GREAT, BIG SNOWBALL FIGHT!

Best regards,

John Cook
(865) 719-8072 Cell
 Cook Bros. - Best of the Best Article

Cook Bros. Construction WebsiteComfy-Snow-Day-FBimage

Get the Best Contractor

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Thank you to everyone who came out to see us at the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Knoxville Home Show this past weekend at the Convention Center! Despite the cold we had an incredible turn-out and spoke to many people about their plans to build custom homes, remodel or add on to their existing homes in the coming year. Overall the traffic and enthusiasm was great, which to us helps to signify that in the area around Knoxville we are now again starting to see some growth and movement in home construction and renovation. Everyone that came out to the show and saw us had a chance to enter our drawing for a very sweet Kamado Joe Grille and was promised our very own “Top 10” list of Things To Look For When Selecting A Contractor!

First the “Top 10” List. These are the “Should Ask” questions that very few consumers know to check on before they hire a contractor!

Will you provide Builder’s Risk Insurance as part of my contract? This is insurance that you MUST HAVE on any custom home project or major remodeling project that includes structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical work. This insurance protects you if a loss occurs from theft, negligence or accident during the course of construction. Your standard homeowner’s policy will not suffice if any of this happens and YOU will be left holding the bag.

Now, the part you have all been waiting for. Our Winner of the Kamado Joe Grille Giveaway is…drum roll please…Barb Bean! She came to see us at the Home Show and is very excited to take delivery of her new grill and use it as soon as it warms up! You can hear the winner call here. Congratulations Barb from all of us here at Cook Bros. Construction and thank you to everyone who participated!!!

Home Show = Home Ideas

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If your New Year’s resolutions included remodeling that outdated kitchen, adding on the master suite of your dreams or building a new custom home for your family to enjoy then a home show is a great place to start. Even if you have a smaller more maintenance related project, such as gutter replacement, or need to plan for future projects a home show can be the jumping off point that you need. This year we are participating in the HBAGK Home Show January 24-26 at the Knoxville Convention Center. The Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville puts on this show to bring to Knoxville the best in building and remodeling that Knoxville has to offer under one roof. As a part of the national Home Builder’s Association our local membership helps support best building practices, education for members and fights to promote housing affordability for all Americans.

We invite you to come out and see us along with all of the other exhibitors and get the ideas that YOU need to make your next project a SUCCESS.

Hours & Location

Location

Knoxville Convention Center – 701 Henley St, Knoxville, TN 37902

Cook Bros. Construction – Booth #196

Days/Times

Friday, January 24th – 12:00PM – 8:00PM

Saturday, January 25th – 10:00AM – 8:00PM

Sunday, January 26th – 12:00PM – 6:00PM

Win  a Kamado Joe Grille
Retailed at OVER $1,000

  • Visit the Cook Bros. at the home show – booth #196
  • We’ll help you get entered into our drawing
  • Winner will be contacted via phone the following week of the show

A Look Back to Look Forward

Cook-Bros-Look-Forward

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Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? You know, the work less, exercise more, eat better, save more money type of resolutions that seem to be the norm in today’s society. Those goals are just far too ambiguous for most folks and that is why few of us ever stick with them for more than about 7 minutes. I much prefer to look back at where I’ve grown, where I’ve struggled and where there is defined opportunity for improvement. It’s easy to go through the motions every day and get stuck in a rut. They say 90% of success is just showing up, but I believe the key is that the last 10% of success is actually DOING SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE AND INVENTIVE!

Looking back there is no way that Ralph and I could’ve scripted the past 13 years. It started with a trip on two wheels to the great state of Tennessee and for most of the last 13 years it has felt like we were sliding through a curve with the throttle wide open and no thought of grabbing the brake! Five days out of college in May 2001 we moved to Knoxville with two Ford Rangers and all of our worldly possessions packed in a small homemade enclosed trailer. We basically knew no one, but we had a dream and thought we had the initiative to make it come true. It’s hard to not reminisce about those first three years in Tennessee and all of the things that seem crazy now, but at the time we just rolled with. Living in the Family Inns of America off Merchants Road, buying a work truck that constantly had the heat on and working night shifts at Mr. Zip gas stations part time were NOT part of the plan. That’s one of the great things about this country; if you can dream it you can achieve it, but nobody is going to just hand it to you and sometimes you have to deviate from the plan.

Three years later and a couple of forks in the road we applied for our General Contractor’s license and formed Cook Bros. in August 2004. Our first 2 homes were built primarily by Ralph and I, side-by-side, and believe you me there were some hiccups. We re-dug most of the foundations by hand (long story), had an electrical contractor go missing (literally!) and nearly buried a fully loaded concrete truck on one site. However, we also hooked up with some of the best people in the business that have stuck with us to this day, including Conner Siding and Hamilton’s Mechanical to name a few. As the next 3 years unfolded we built a number of custom homes and garnered two awards in the Sevier County Parade of Homes for Best Kitchen and Co-Best of Show. The sky seemed to be the limit!

We all know what happened next. Downturn, recession, Great Recession…whatever you want to call it we were hit over night with an environment we had never experienced…nobody buying anything. Thankfully we were able to persevere and relying heavily on our experience with remodeling we were actually able to withstand the storm and expand our capabilities. The way I see it we were forced to grow by outside forces; fight and  grow or wither and die seemed the only options. We picked up a key member of our team, Jeremy Evans, during this time and he is still with us as a New Construction Project Manager. He has a few stories to tell for sure.

Fast forward to today. Our team and operation has grown exponentially in the last two years. We’ve worked hard, gotten lucky a few times, and had the good fortune of picking up some excellent team members. The dedicated folks that have assembled at Cook Bros. are the difference-makers in delivering phenomenal customer service and quality. As a group we push every day to improve ourselves and what we can offer, and it shows. The community has taken notice, as we were voted Best New Construction Contractor and Best Remodeling Contractor by the readers of CityView Magazine in their annual Knoxville’s Best of the Best Voting. In 2014 we look forward to many things: moving to a new location in January that will allow the space for a dedicated design center, innovating new ways to better serve our clients, and the start of a new division in the form of Cook Bros. Roofing. There will be a lot of growth in 2014 and we are up to the task!

There are far too many people to thank for our success along the way. We owe a debt of gratitude to many who have encouraged us, believed in us, partnered with us and flat out stuck their necks out for us. Too many to list, but rest assured we are most grateful for each and every one. In the coming year we hope to be as much of a help to others as everyone has been to us. Be blessed in 2014 and when you are discouraged by what seems like slow progress take a look back; you may be surprised at how far you’ve come!

New-Year-Cook-Bros-Knoxville

Quality Control for Your Home

You’ve made the decision to buy an existing home, buy a tract home under construction, or build a custom home from the ground up. Now there are about a gazillion more decisions to make, checklists, spreadsheets, paperwork, etc. It can get pretty overwhelming, even if you have the help of a good Realtor or builder, and there are all of these little extra costs involved. Invariably there is at least one thing or two that gets missed and after closing you will wish it had been covered. Of all the things to miss I would stress to make sure that a home inspection is not one of them.

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Here’s why:

1.) You are not a licensed building science professional and neither is your Realtor, brother-in-law or aunt. Would you trust your neighbor to do an EKG since he also has a heart and thinks he knows how it operates? I think not. 2.) “Built to code” simply means that a structure has been built to the very minimum building standards acceptable. Codes inspections are primarily for health and safety items; they do not cover level of quality or craftsmanship at all. If you are building a custom home then I suggest having an independent inspector perform quality inspections at key points through the building process.
3.) When buying an existing home, whether you plan to remodel or add on at some point, there is a good chance someone has done one or both of those things already. Many homeowners do these things themselves or with Uncle Billy Bob and they are not exactly constructed properly. A good home inspection will uncover this and at least you will know what you are getting into.
4.) Those of you buying a new home off the shelf don’t think you can slack off on the inspection either just because the home is new. There are plenty of good new homes out there that are built with care, but there are also just as many or more built by the lowest bidders whose only intent is to get done as quickly as possible. The expense of a home does not change the potential for problems. A home inspection will turn up if you found the lemon or the peach.

Do your homework and choose a Tennessee state-licensed inspector. You can check to make sure whoever you select is licensed and for how long at http://verify.tn.gov/ before hiring them. Most inspectors will also be a part of a professional organization such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). Experience is very key. Many inspectors come from engineering or contracting backgrounds, and I’ve found that these inspectors are typically very thorough in uncovering potential problems based on years of experience. Bottom line…a proper inspection by a licensed third party helps ensure you aren’t buying Tom Hanks’ “Money Pit”!

Best regards,

John and Ralph Cook

Cook Bros. Construction

Quality Craftsmanship Without Compromise

www.cookbrosconstruction.com

865.851.7373

Quality-Cook-Bros-Knoxville

Thank You Knoxville

With thousands of stores and services offered to Knoxville, CITYVIEW Magazine wants its readers to find the most remarkable businesses. Thus, they produce their “Best of the Best” issue to showcase the cream of the crop in several different categories including dining, people, schools, and stores & services.

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Who makes these Knoxville establishments the best?

You might think that there is a secret committee that roams around Knoxville finding the most remarkable businesses, but no.  It’s you and me – Knoxvillians themselves cast their votes to CITYVIEW and have their voices heard.Knoxville-Cook-Bros-Thank-You

The Best in Contracting and Remodeling

Since the citizens of Knoxville choose the best of the best, Cook Bros. would like to offer up a huge “Thank You” to Knoxville for voting us the best  in our East Tennessee city.   It’s an honor to partner with our clients in Tennessee to create the living spaces they call home.  We invite you to take a look at the article for yourself and check out the other quality services around town.

Click here to see the article.

Why is Cook Bros. Construction the best?

For more great information about Cook Bros. click here.

A Different Perspective

Get a different perspective when choosing a contractor

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Our perspectives shape our world in many ways. Many of us, when making decisions with heavy emotional weight or piles of cash involved, like to involve thoughts from others we trust to help give us a well-rounded view of the situation before moving forward. This is a wise move. Nowhere is this probably more the case than when making a decision about who to choose to partner with in building a custom home or doing a major home remodel. These projects require a great deal of trust and oftentimes a quite large expenditure.

So we ask our friends, our neighbors, members of our church, coworkers, and really almost anyone with a pulse, “Who do you recommend?” The answers vary and there is a lot of sifting to do to get to a couple contractors to call. These contractors will probably be ready and willing to supply client references if you ask. Let me ask you, have you ever had someone give you a name and a number to a client reference that gave a bad reference? Not a chance! These folks have been hand-picked by most contractors because they know a good reference will be given. That’s just smart business.

Getting References

Want to know how to circumvent this system and really find out how good the contractor is that you are hoping to have custom build your home or remodel your kitchen? Ask for a minimum of three supplier references, get the information on the spot, and call them immediately! Why? Because nobody asks for them and you will catch your contractor off-guard by asking for them. Then when you get the suppliers on the phone and ask them the questions we recommend asking in this video, you will know if this company is someone you can trust with YOUR home and investment. Now that’s a different perspective!

Best regards,

John and Ralph Cook

Cook Bros. Construction

Quality Craftsmanship Without Compromise

www.cookbrosconstruction.com

865.851.7373