Known for nearly two decades as Community Building and Restoration, we have renamed ourselves Thoughtful Craftsmen to acknowledge our focus on the craft of old home restoration. But we are still the same company, with key parts of the same team working consistently on homes of the Eastside, near-North Shore and elsewhere within our region for over 20 years. Growing from the passion of the founder, Erik Lindberg, we began by rebuilding porches, installing roofs, and performing architecturally appropriate remodeling on Pre-WWII homes, whether modest or grand.
As we began to understand the broad range of needs for quality restoration by these unique and sometimes temperamental homes and their dedicated owners for top quality, thoughtful repairs, our services grew to encompass additional services. We are the local experts in:
Restoring wood siding
Repairing and restoring windows
Building and installing custom wood storm windows
Fixing original architectural details
Rebuilding copper built-in gutters
Installing copper roofs and ledges
Asphalt and rubber roofing
Painting, interior and exterior
Remodeling and historic productions
Thoughtful Craftsmen have worked on almost a thousand houses in the area, including a number of homes of historic import and significance. We have worked on some houses as they have changed owners up to five times, and with many customers as the upscale or downsize. We are most proud of our long-running relationship with our customers and their neighbors, who think of us as the “thoughtful craftsmen” (and women) who they are pleased to have in and around their homes.
Is your home in need of a restoration makeover?
Our goal is to train employees in a wide variety of operations so that they will eventually be able to understand and approach the exterior of homes as systems whose parts and integration require specific approaches. We aspire to do this a nurturing and understanding way. While we expect honesty, diligence, and hustle, we also hope that employees are willing to push themselves, take risks, and learn from mistakes in a safe environment. This process, we hope, might allow each member of our team to find his or her strengths while growing and learning. We are eager to have team members take initiative and accept new responsibilities in a way that fosters personal growth and new opportunities.
To help maintain the historic and pre-WWII housing stock of Milwaukee and its older suburbs by way of comprehensive exterior restoration that treats the exterior as a set of interconnected systems. Using the highest quality materials, applied and installed with keen historic and architecturally sense, we endeavor to return houses to their original appearance in a way that will last for as long a time as current materials and customers’ budgets will allow.
Part of this mission can be best understood by contrasting our approach to other companies. It is easy to find someone who will shingle the roof, but not fix the crown molding or rafter tails. It is easy to find someone who install replacement windows, but not restore the existing ones. It is easy to find someone who will install new siding, but will ignore the flashings. There are about five local companies which reline built-in gutters, but who perform the carpentry repairs with inferior materials and mismatched moldings, none of which are primed or painted.
Most of all, it easy to find people who will paint the house, but without ensuring the underlying wood is properly restored with appropriate materials and products. We treat the house as a system, focusing on the larger and more obvious items and issues, and the connective tissue that lies between. There are no other major firms in Milwaukee with this approach.
We are trying to create a model for which there are few examples. A proper exterior restoration involves a number of disparate tasks, each of which may take a substantially different skill set. A built-in gutter repair, for example, may require framing, matching and installing unique moldings, using epoxy, copper-bending and soldering, shingling, cedar shingles, and painting.
The more common approach is for one or two of these to be done properly, with the rest done either improperly or left for someone else, often leaving the homeowner with a difficult problem in finding people to perform the other tasks. Work that is done properly, across such a wide range, is most often performed by an older and highly experienced one or two-man show, or by a much larger general contractor who will charge double what we do.
But as it turns out, many of our customers simply cannot find anyone else to do the whole job, with knowledge and experience with each aspect. It is, for this reason, we get calls from across the country asking for our work or advice.
The reason for this is that such jobs are difficult to bid, difficult to staff, and difficult to organize. Despite the demand for the work, few companies are willing to provide the services we do. We are working to create better systems and will appreciate team input and ideas. However, many of the jobs are, at least in one aspect, one of a kind. So our challenge, to exaggerate it a little to make the point, is to organize the creation of a unique work of art. Because of the demand for this kind of work, and because the houses we work on are of great value to our community, our goal is to find a way to provide this work on a larger scale.
Our approach has been called “anti-sales.” We don’t approach potential customers upon our initial site visits, nor in subsequent interactions, as targets for the product we’re trying to sell. Rather, we listen to them and examine the house’s problems and recommend a course of repair or restoration, often with options that might accommodate budget constraints. Part of this approach involves recommending other contractors when appropriate, or less expensive fixes. Sometimes we tell people that the best course is to do nothing.
In other words, from the moment of the first contact, we see our job as helping homeowners best solve the problem or repair the damage on their houses. The solutions we suggest are geared towards the needs of the houses rather than the work we want to do. For example, it is far easier and simpler to tear down a porch and build a new one. But if it is more cost-effective to salvage and reuse parts of it, even for a lower contract price, that is what we will recommend.