Blackdog Design Build Remodel
Customer feedback report for

Blackdog Design Build Remodel

Blackdog Design Build Remodel

Blackdog Builders is a design/build residential remodeling company. We work together with our clients to take a remodeling project from the beginning design phase through final finishing details. We also have home services department to address smaller-scale maintenance and repair projects. Our projects range from basic bath remodels to large whole-house renovations - and everything in between. Show more

Blackdog Builders is a design/build residential remodeling company. We work together with our clients to take a remodeling project from the beginning design phase through final finishing details. We also have home services department to address smaller-scale maintenance and repair projects. Our projects range from basic bath remodels to large whole-house renovations - and everything in between.

Company History

We started Blackdog in late 1989, operating out of a spare room in our home and the back of my pickup truck. We focused and built our business on full-service, residential remodeling work. Our first non-field hire was a part-time office manger who is still with us today. By 1994, our staff grew to eight and revenues surpassed the half-million-dollar mark. Still operating out of our home with one computer and one phone, we needed to make a change. We had been doing a significant amount of kitchen work, which we found fit our model well. Short on space, we converted an old barn into a 3,000 square foot office/showroom in 1995. In the space only a few years, elbowroom was once again at a premium, so we built another office/showroom in 2001, where we are located today. We have recently opened a second location in Amherst New Hampshire that is providing all the same services as our Salem Location.

Typical Workload

We typically service 6 - 8 projects at one time and we work to ensure our backlog never gets out further than 3 months. Most projects can be started within 2 months of signing a construction agreement, often sooner.

Team Makeup

We are very fortunate to have a client-focused team of over 50 talented people who make it a pleasure to come to work. We have been recognized as one of the 101 best companies to work for by Professional Builder magazine and one of the top 25 Remodeling companies to work for by Professional Remodeler Magazine.


I have the incredible good fortune of being able to wake up in the morning looking forward to going to work. Despite having a degree in business from the University of Vermont, construction and entrepreneurial drive are deeply rooted in me. Rather than entering the corporate world, I began working for myself shortly after college and learned some tough but valuable lessons about what not to do when building a company. We have been able to parlay those early lessons as well as a focus on continuous improvement into a successful company.

As the CKD who began the kitchen side of our business, my wife, Brenda designed and improved the homes of many happy clients. Brenda is currently working in a design capacity, part-time.

- More than 90% of your clients would recommend your firm to a friend - this qualifies you as a GQ Guildmaster. How do you earn such high praise from your customers?

We consciously try to never promise what we cannot deliver and we consistently try to deliver more than we promised. Blackdog is built on a foundation of systems and processes that allows us to give a predictably high level of service to our clients. Additionally, we constantly work to maintain a company culture built on creating raving fans of our clients. All our staff is empowered to find ways to make the process from beginning to end more enjoyable and fun using our "9's and 10's" concept.

- Client Profile

Our main office is located in southern New Hampshire just over the Massachusetts border, so our work is split between the two states with about 70% of our revenue coming from Massachusetts. Our clients are typically middle-to-upper-middle class and value a single source provider where design and construction services can be provided under one roof. Our clients are value-conscious and want a builder who will work through the design process to arrive at a project that meets as many goals as possible within given budget constraints. Our clients want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that what gets promised is what gets done and that all work is backed up with an industry leading three-year warranty.

- Approach to Working With Clients

From the first phone call, we have an organized and controlled way to help our clients realize their project goals. Our Director of First Impressions fields most initial phone calls and gets all basic information. We then promise a response from a Designer in 24 hours after the initial call. The Designer will spend time on the phone understanding the project goals and ensuring that we can satisfy the client's goals. If appropriate, a meeting is set up at the client's home where we can do a better job at helping the client get to know Blackdog and to get Blackdog to better understand the project and existing conditions. Our initial meeting has no cost associated with it. The next step for us is to sign our "Partner Plan," which is our design retainer that allows us to begin refining a project. This plan will outline the proposed project and provide an anticipated budget range within which we expect the project could be built. We only ask our clients to commit to the plan after we have given potential investment ranges based on the project goals.

Committing to the Partner Plan kicks off the design phase, which runs parallel to providing budget feedback. Our Designers work to give our clients the most project for their budget and to provide them with budget feedback, allowing them to make well informed decisions.

Once the design and budget are agreed on, we will generate a complete, detailed list of specifications and an agreement to sign. Paperwork out of the way, we begin scheduling and planning the project on the Production side or our company. Meetings will be planned, orders placed and manpower allocated to ensure a smooth construction experience. At the conclusion of every project, the Designer meets the clients for a final walk-through, ensuring that they are completely happy. We cover every completed project with our 3-year warranty backed up by a dedicated specialist who ensures quick response times on any issues.

- How do you market your company?

We market Blackdog using a mix of mediums - in-house educational seminars, area home shows, print advertising, neighborhood campaigns (direct mail), newsletters, website, client open houses, cable advertising, radio campaigns, community sponsorships, and an annual golf fundraiser to benefit the MSPCA.

- Ongoing Staff Training and Development

Blackdog holds weekly project meetings where Designers, Project Managers, and key administrative staff come together to review the status of each project with regard to design, production, and finances. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and has proven an effective way to address project issues and challenges as they arise.

For the past ten years, Blackdog has conducted in-house "Lead Academies" which brings together Project Managers, Lead Carpenters, and Production Carpenters on a regular, ongoing basis to review policies and procedures, learn new construction techniques, and run projects with more consistency and higher predictability.

Blackdog holds a company-wide meeting every quarter. A large portion of this meeting is spent discussing current remodeling projects and how to deliver "9's and 10's" -- outstanding service -- to our clients.

We also have a Safety Committee that meets regularly and presents a different safety topic at our monthly company meetings. Preventing back injuries, tool safety, and working around toxic chemicals are some of the topics covered to date.

Our staff is also encouraged to seek out and attend seminars and trade shows relative to their positions.

Lastly, we have a library of training materials available to all employees and we have incentives in place for the participation in some computer-based interactive training programs.

- Motivating Employees

Our culture is probably the single biggest factor in our employees' motivation. We have incentive programs and recognition programs in place in many parts of our business but, at the end of the day, people choose whether or not do the right thing based on company culture. If people are valued, appreciated and given room to grow and improve, they are motivated almost by default.

- Why are you a builder/remodeler?

Remodeling has always been our focus and it has been what we have built our systems and procedures around. Remodeling is a "service" business while new-home construction is much more of a "product" business. When you can destroy someone's home, have them live through the destruction, put it back together and then have them rave about the entire experience, it is a fantastic feeling.

- What should clients bring to the table and contribute during the construction process? What can they do to help make the relationship a success?

The best thing a client can bring is a positive attitude. In the best of all projects we are still often tearing things apart and making a mess. While we are extremely aware of being clean and considerate we are also still a source of disruption in the home. If a client goes into the project thinking that it is a painful process they will have to suffer through - they most assuredly will. If, however, a client can look at it as if it was a fun adventure that will be sort of like extended camping complete with a lot of pizza then they can enjoy the experience and see light at the end of the tunnel.

- What are the biggest challenges facing companies like yours in the building industry? What are some of the challenges facing your business right now?

The technology and products are constantly changing and we need to stay on the cutting-edge while still ensuring we are installing quality products with sound techniques that will give years of service. Sometimes these goals can be at odds when new products don't measure up in the field. On the design side of the business we need to be on top of new trends while not designing projects that will be "dated" in a few years.

- What's next for your company?

We are well established in a few Massachusetts communities, so we're looking to expand our market area into communities where our offerings will be valued. We have also opened a second full-service location in Nashua, NH.

Mary M.

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What should homeowners be asking a contractor before making a hiring decision?

Wilson Valvez of Master Roof PRO answered:

May 23, 2017
I believe that the most important thing besides the cost is a Warranty and a detailed list of materials and work that needs to be done in writting. 
We're opening a door off the back of our house and would love some advice on choosing the wood type.
Dec 18, 2015
I live in northern Mass along the coast and deal with this all the time. It really is a question of your commitment to maintenance. Wood today is not like wood 20 years ago or older and lead removed f ... read more
Last edited Dec 18, 2015 6:04pm

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Customer feedback report

The feedback presented on this page was collected by GuildQuality from Verified customers of Blackdog Design Build Remodel using our impartial third party survey process. To learn more about GuildQuality and our survey process visit

Blackdog Design Build Remodel

7 Red Roof Lane, unit 1,
Salem, NH (603) 898-0868