Summary: PTR Carpentry is fantastic. Trustworthy and reliable to fault, their work is impeccable (faultless), their attitude is highly professional and always courteous.
We had used Paul last summer for a third floor renovation and we were blown away by the quality of his work, his professionalism, and his ability to see problems right away. (See our earlier report if you are interested in what convinced us that he is the best professional we have ever dealt with.) Recently we had him back for a much larger project. Our original impression was only amplified. We don’t really think it is possible to do justice to how amazing Paul and his crew are. PTR Carpentry are not just the best in their HomeStars category, they are without doubt among the best of the best in all categories. Our only regret is that they don’t do everything else—plumbing, electrical, roofing, finished cabinetry, etc. However, before you do any of those things, please think about the importance of having any new work properly framed or, as in our case, having your house reframed to make it not only straight and level, but also stronger.
Our work included the framing of a recently underpinned basement (five rooms) and the removal of three partition walls and a ceiling on the first floor as well as the whole floor on the first floor. Our house is over a hundred years old. It is 16’ by 48’, but nothing is straight after a century of wear and tear. With the use of remarkably accurate and expensive levels (sprit and laser), the PTR team quickly rectified ten decades of settling, leaning, bowing, and, most importantly, structural weaknesses original to the house. Essentially they rebuilt the basement and the first floor of our house. In doing so they demolished and removed the walls, floor and ceiling with extraordinary efficiency and the absolute minimum of mess. All the joists were glued and sistered to new ones, thereby not only removing the bowing in the basement and first floor ceilings, but, more importantly, strengthening the house. New exterior walls were built to receive foam insulation and drywall.
After a hundred years, most houses in Toronto probably need to be rebuilt. Before you think about wasting a lot of money on cosmetic changes, think about the structure. With a plywood floor glued to the doubled joists, our house has a solidity that is worth every penny and much more. More importantly, the floors are now perfectly level. To achieve this Paul had to resolved differences in height of just over 3.5 inches over the 768 square feet of oscillations in floor height. After removing the old hardwood and subfloor and working out the high and low points of the house, Paul worked out that if he lifted our stairs three inches, he could return them to the level they probably were when they were originally built—that is, level—and so raise the whole floor to the high point. This was a totally unexpected bonus for us, but just the way that Paul thinks his way through projects at every stage.
Paul sees problems so well because he is always thinking ahead. He is a chess master in terms of his ability to be able to think so many steps ahead in his projects. Yet he is very fast. His intelligence and courtesy is matched by an extraordinary work ethic and commitment to doing things accurately and well.
The tasks on our project were complex and demanding and at times dirty (demolition), but Paul and his team were nothing less than a pleasure to work with. They kept us informed all along. The work they did is outstanding. Paul has given our house more than another hundred years of life. The structural soundness of the framing is something that is daily pleasure we now get to experience every time we step foot on to the first floor. We have every confidence in the integrity of Paul’s work. Ask him about the advantages of nails over screws (all about shear strength, which he can also explain if you don’t understand) in framing and you will wonder why anyone would use anything other than a pneumatic nail gun. (On floors he uses a hybrid nail-screw that goes in as a nail but can be removed as a screw.)
Finally, two further details that are significant. All this work was done in two weeks! That is not a typo. They did it all in ten days, but ten days in which there was never and idle moment. The PTR team work like a well oiled machine. Everyone is doing something all the time. If anyone has a spare moment, they pick up a broom and sweep or tidy up as they go. But there aren’t many spare moments once the team is at work. Paul is the choreographer, but all the dancers know exactly what they have to do and do it very well. Furthermore, the work of the first floor was done around a significant amount of furniture and our kitchen appliances, which his team moved from room to room effortlessly and without complaint as they made their way from the front to back of our house.
10 out of 10 seems rather a ridiculously low score to give someone whose work so far exceeds even the most stringent expectations. 10 should mean that there is nothing to complain about. We not only have nothing to complain about but also so much to be grateful for. We never felt Paul was working for us so much as he was working with us, by which we mean he was so concerned to make sure that things were done correctly and in a way that would make all the finishing so much easier. PTR treated our house as if it was their house rather than that of clients they might never see again. So to Paul, Kyle, Marshall, Chino, and Elijah, many, many thanks and we look forward to having you back next week to do the deck. You are always welcome in our house.
PTR are busy, but don’t settle for just anyone. Smaller projects they can occasionally fit in between larger ones, but we are glad we waited for three months to have them do our basement and first floor. Waiting for Paul and his crew is well worth it. If you can plan ahead, then of course you might not have to wait. Framing is not something you think you are going to notice, but you will. I would rather forego marble counter tops and begin any renovation by going back to the studs and rebuilding any older house now that I know who to call.