Monday, May 23, 2011

Trip to Marvin Windows & Door Factory


      Leaving Warroad Minnesota on the twin engine plane I want to remember my experience at Marvin and think back on what I took from my time at the factory.  What surprised me is that my thoughts didn't go to windows or doors, but to a man, George Marvin, founder of Marvin windows and door .  The town reeks of appreciation and honor for the Marvin family.  Three phrases and memories stick out in my mind.  The first is George Marvin's motto that "To succeed in any field, work like hell and don’t spend more then you make".  Words needed today.  The second memory is a story of George Marvin that was told by his granddaughter.  On a Sunday before church he was in the grain elevator shoveling grain for a man that needed it that day.  He said it was more important then being on time to church.  His charity and hard work have built that community.  The family tradition has continued through the generations obviously.  The funny thing is that I was at a manufacturer for 2 days and came away with stories of a man and his family, not upselling techniques or technical data.  This company puts its character into its product.  The whole operation from start to finish is in house.  Marvin is resourceful in everything they do, waste management, heating, recycling, even utilizing and enabling their employees talents and interests.  Jane was our Marvin representative at dinner.  She started working for Marvin in the factory and was sent to school for computer technology and now works in the IT department.  The company's values show in their windows and doors.  Quality is at the top end of the market.  Windows and doors take every abuse inside and out while performing in extreme environments, our homes.  We keep the inside temperature at 68 degrees while the outside weather, 1" to 6" away, is -40 or 100 degrees.  This is a problematic area for every builder.  Marvin has found solutions to this problem.  The only thing left is for the contractor to install them correctly, which they provide information and training for.  We leave Warroad and Marvin knowing a product thoroughly and just beginning to know the community. Finally, the third thing I’ll remember was Bill Marvins' resolve after his factory burnt to the ground, "we'll build it again, and we'll build it better".   And they did....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Educated Homeowner

     Not every person is a contractor or works in the trades, and may never want to for that matter.  But most people want to be a homeowner.  Homes are complicated structures with many components and systems integrated together carefully to make that house function and last more then 10 years. Materials and systems are installed by professionals and are usually very expensive for the average homeowner.  Owning a home is not like owning anything else in your life, you need to have some level of knowledge, or know where to get it.

     A great source of free information is your city, county, or state building department. You can access records from that specific piece of property you are looking to purchase.  Think of it like a Carfax report.  These records will include permits (or lack there of), zoning, boundary's, and more.  Knowing the history and facts about your potential property is invaluable and important for every homeowner.  This can potentially save you from a "messy" purchase.

     When buying a home there has to be a lot of trust between you and your Realtor.  They are professionals at putting together a legal transaction with the seller, and selling properties.  This does not mean they know the state or history of the house you might be purchasing and living in.  That's why a Home Inspector is contracted to inspect the home.  Now you are trusting a person that you do not know, and did not choose to work with.  Many home inspectors gain their credentials online through varying accredited programs.  So with 120 hours of book work this home inspector is ready to tell you whether or not the house is sound in structure, moisture protection, electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, safe, and code compliant.  I have been remodeling for 11 years and I can tell you that it takes more then some book study to assess a house thoroughly and correctly.  Check out your home inspector, ask for his credentials, and referrals.  There are some very good home inspectors out there, take the time to find and use one, these guys are doing there job well and have your best interest in mind.

     Ultimately the responsibility will be YOURS!  So educate yourself properly and work with quality professionals throughout the process.  I also suggest working with a contractor who has experience working in the homes in your area.  Check them out through your county or city, or through private organizations like the MBA.  Most Quality Contractors will provide a service to do a comprehensive report of a home you are looking to buy. Do the necessary research and use the right professionals when buying your next home.