Mark Twain is credited with saying “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” While Twain likely wasn’t thinking about home improvement projects, his advice holds. The beginning point of any change to your home is to have a conversation about what you want and need, because no work can happen until there’s a plan.
At H.J. Holtz & Son, we’d like to encourage you to consider the interior painting or interior carpentry projects that could be accomplished this winter. Here are our top 5 reasons why you should call us now:
- The sooner you contact us, the sooner you lock in dates. We want to accommodate your work window. Maybe you want to have a fresh space for your Super Bowl party – or maybe you don’t want to start until after that big game. Maybe you want a transformation to happen over spring break, when you’re out of town. Once your contract is signed, you’re on our schedule.
- Book now, and lock in 2023 labor rates. One of the things we pride ourselves on at H.J. Holtz & Son is our ability to train and retain quality craftspeople. That requires regular pay increases. We don’t know yet how our pricing will change in 2024, but like any other business facing increased costs in supplies, gas, and utilities, we doubt our prices will drop.
- If you have a signed contract with us and we can’t do the work this winter, you’ll be first in line for spring. Even with a plan in place, schedules can shift. Maybe something changes in your life, or maybe an unknown repair issue surfaces that needs to be addressed. Once we’re working with you on a project, we’re going to see it through, no matter how long that takes.
- Think about upcoming occasions. Look at your calendar for 2024. Are you planning to host any special events in your home – a graduation, bridal or baby shower, retirement party, anniversary celebration? Even if there’s nothing planned, it’s good to be ready for the unexpected, like a visit from future in-laws or a cookout to welcome a new neighbor. You want your home to look its best every day, and we do, too.
- We have craftspeople ready to work. Unlike many other home services companies, we keep our employees year-round; we don’t have seasonal layoffs. In winter months, our exterior team members are more available for interior work, which means we can handle more jobs simultaneously. When our calendar is full, that’s when we’re our most efficient.
Channel your inner Mark Twain today, and give H.J. Holtz & Son a call to start your project – 804-358-4109.
While cold weather often means homeowners turn their attention to indoor projects, it’s possible – and may even be essential – to paint some or all of a house’s exterior during the winter months.
“Paint is the protective coating over top of the wood substrates,” says Thomas Freeman, sales representative for The Sherwin-Williams Company. “Wood, when exposed to the elements – whether moisture or sun – over time, is going to rot. The paint is what protects it from rotting.”
While prolonged exposure to moisture can lead to problems at any time of the year, the issues become more pronounced in cold weather, as ice crystals form and expand, enlarging cracks. Because damage occurs under the surface, it can be easy to miss.
“You can have structural issues, not just damage to windows and siding,” Freeman says, adding that masonry may also suffer and should be part of any exterior assessment.
For many homeowners, their house is their largest investment. The exterior should be surveyed regularly, but especially as colder and wetter weather looms, to ensure that cracks are sealed and small issues are repaired, either through caulking or painting. H.J. Holtz & Son offers this exterior review at customers’ request. Necessary repairs, including replacing rotted or damaged wood, can be handled by the in-house carpentry team.
If painting is required, the good news is that certain premium exterior paints can be applied at temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Sherwin-Williams offers four options: SuperPaint, Latitude, Duration, Emerald, and Emerald Rain Refresh. “Each has different characteristics with durability, how they work, and how they perform in different weather conditions,” Freeman says. “Some are even self-cleaning.”
These premium exterior paints can be used at lower temperatures and resist moisture in just two hours – 50% faster than typical exterior paint. Still, Freeman says, it’s important to pay attention when painting in the winter.
“In summer, painters can start as early as 6 or 7 a.m. and work until 5 or 7 p.m., as long as they’ve got sunlight,” he says. “But just because the sun’s up in winter, it doesn’t mean conditions are conducive to painting. You need to start later – to make sure it’s warm enough – and you need to finish earlier, to give the paint time to dry before the sun sets and evening dew creeps in.”
It may take more days to paint a house’s exterior in the winter, but the actual number of hours needed may not be as high as it seems, as work hours are stretched over more days, to ensure painting is happening with optimum conditions. Prep work can take a bit longer, as it’s not wise to leave wood exposed, waiting for paint. A crew is more likely to prep in sections, rather than all at once.
The key, Freeman says, is to hire painters who know how to work in winter. “Some guys aren’t responsible about waiting for the right conditions,” he says. “[Company president Rick] Holtz isn’t like this, fortunately. He’s going to get it right whether he makes money or not. Not all these guys are.”
It was an opportunity too good to pass up.
For the past 10 years, H.J. Holtz & Son President Rick Holtz had kept a casual eye on commercial real estate listings, contemplating a change.
The company’s location at 3106 Moore Street in Richmond, within easy reach of several major thoroughfares, was a sweet spot when the company moved there in 2002. Situated at the corner of Moore and Summit streets, the lot offered a large side parking area – necessary for the company’s trucks – and a large building that could accommodate both office and shop areas.
But 20 years is a long time. Over the last two decades, Holtz & Son has grown, adding more trained painters and paper hangers, and expanding its carpentry division to provide wraparound services, as so many home projects require wood repair.
Beyond the front doors, the neighborhood changed, too. When the company moved in, Scott’s Addition was filled mostly with light industrial businesses and warehouses. A scattering of homes and restaurants were on the edges, but the district attracted little attention.
The area began to shift in the early 2000s, as a few warehouses were converted into apartments. Growth slowed during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, but developers quickly returned with more aggressive plans. In 2017, the city changed the neighborhood’s zoning from light industrial to mixed-use, allowing for a bevy of businesses to fill the area.
Now, Scott’s Addition is a hive of activity, day and night. That’s not bad when the Holtz team is looking for lunch, but it creates significant barriers to Holtz & Son expansion.
“There’s just nowhere for us to go,” says Rick Holtz. “We’re hemmed in on every side. And there’s no way I could afford to buy out any of our adjacent neighbors. The property values are just too high.”
Already feeling pinched in the space, the Holtz & Son team faced even greater demand during and after the COVID pandemic, as people upgraded and improved their homes. “Suddenly, everyone was inside their houses, looking at the walls, and realizing they didn’t like what they saw,” Rick Holz says. “Demand doubled. We want to meet demand, for both clients who have worked with us before and new clients. But that became really hard to do.”
Even though much of the work the company does is in customers’ homes, a surprising number of tasks happen in the shop.
“We need space to prep and spray cabinets, build and paint furniture, and paint all types of items our clients ask us to paint,” Rick Holtz says. “We’ve used every inch of the space we have here. There’s just nowhere to go.”
He had almost given up on finding a new location when he had lunch with his friends who work with Benjamin Moore and Spectrum Paint. “My friend and associate Rob Reynolds mentioned that he had a friend who was retiring and might be interested in selling his building,” Rick Holtz says.
He quickly acted on the tip, finding Old Dominion Body Works, just off Hull Street Road, near its intersection with Chippenham Parkway. With almost 12,000 square feet, the shop is double the size of Holtz & Son’s current location.
“We’re acquiring a down draft spray booth, and we’re able to give the Holtz Built carpentry division, which is growing so fast, an even larger dedicated space,” Rick Holtz says. “We’re also going to be able to have multiple projects of varying sizes going at a time, which enables us to finish a job faster. That’s good for the customer who wants their project to move quickly, and it’s good for the customer who’s waiting for us to get to their project.”
H.J. Holtz & Son closed on the sale in May and renovations began immediately. “We’re serving as our own general contractor and are doing as much of the work ourselves as we can,” Rick Holtz says. “Really, we can do it all, except for the plumbing, mechanical and heavy-duty electrical work.
“It’s exciting for our team to work on our own space,” he adds. “We’re getting to show what we can do, and we’ll get to enjoy the finished product. We’re really having fun with it.”
Stay tuned … there’s more to come.
Photo courtesy of Todd Wright
The homes presented in the Garden Club of Virginia’s 2023 Historic Garden Week share many characteristics: they have elegant spaces, they have carefully designed plantings, and they are impeccably maintained, inside and out.
H.J. Holtz & Son is proud to have helped numerous homeowners through the years – including two on this year’s tour – prepare their homes for the hundreds of HGW ticket-holders who come every spring to see not only their gardens, but also their homes. Holtz craftsmanship will also be on display this year in Charlottesville at Carr’s Hill, the residence of the president of the University of Virginia.
“We know our clients want to show their homes at their best every day,” says company president Rick Holtz. “Garden Week takes that up a notch, because these are public tours.”
The origins of Historic Garden Week date to 1927, when the Garden Club of Virginia hosted a flower show to raise money to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at his mountaintop home of Monticello. That first effort netted $7,000 – the equivalent to roughly $117,000 today. In 1928, the club raised money to help save Kenmore, the Fredericksburg-area home of Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister. In 1929, multiple houses and gardens were opened for a “pilgrimage,” with ticket prices going to fund restorations of historic properties and gardens throughout the state. This year’s Garden Week comprises 29 tours organized and hosted by members of clubs from Virginia Beach to Roanoke, from Martinsville to Middleburg.
Richmond, as in years past, has three tour days: April 18, 19, and 20. Tuesday’s tour, in the Westhampton neighborhood, includes 6407 Roselawn, where the Holtz team has assisted with painting and carpentry work. Thursday’s tour, along Three Chopt Road, includes 6207 Three Chopt, another property where Holtz craftspeople have completed projects.
Company president Holtz says he’s always pleased when a client reaches out for assistance prior to Garden Week. “It’s usually someone we’ve worked with in the past, who knows we can come in for touch-ups,” he says. “Sometimes, people will use the fact that their home is going to be on tour as a reason to do a project they’ve been putting off, like painting exterior trim or shutters, or the front door. Everyone wants their home to look good as people are walking up to the entrance.”
It’s common for homeowners to think about improvements prior to big life events, such as a wedding, graduation, retirement party, or the birth of a child. Rick Holtz advises those considering fresh painting or wall coverings as well as carpentry repair – which is managed by the in-house Holtz carpenters – to reach out well in advance of the special occasion, so there’s ample time to complete the project.
“You don’t want to rush into making decisions about color or décor,” he notes. “From our years in business, we know that a selected paint color, once it’s on the wall, may appear to be a different hue, based on the way the light is hitting it. We all want time to make sure that the final project is done to everyone’s satisfaction.”
For more information about the 2023 Historic Garden Week, visit vagardenweek.org. Tickets are $50 per day if purchased in advance; $60 per day at the tour headquarters.
Photos courtesy of Todd Wright
Timing is everything.
The nearly two-year renovation and restoration of UVA’s Carr’s Hill, the Charlottesville home of the president of the University of Virginia, required careful planning and execution, from start to finish. First, there was finding the right time to begin, as few university presidents want to be aligned with expensive residence repairs. Once work got underway, those involved – including a painting team from H.J. Holtz & Son – had to fashion a careful choreography so they could complete interrelated tasks without stepping on each other’s toes.
“It was a monster job,” says Luis Alas, who served as the onsite Holtz team manager. “There were lots of inspections, from the architects to the university. It was really different from working in a regular home, with just a contractor and a client.”
The project began in earnest in late summer 2018, in the transition between outgoing President Teresa A. Sullivan and incoming President James E. Ryan. Carr’s Hill, whose upper floors are private and held for the use of the president and his or her family, hosts thousands of guests on the main level every year through a broad mix of events, including receptions and musical performances. The home was also open for student support in the wake of the Nov. 12 shootings on Grounds (UVa’s term for its campus).
Completed in 1909, the home had not had a significant renovation in roughly 60 years, and it showed, says Allan Pettit, partner with Alexander Nicholson, the Charlottesville building firm managing the project. “There were structural, mechanical, and electrical issues,” he says. “The front and back of the building were separating, the roof needed work … the house needed a lot of repair.”
Pettit says H.J. Holtz & Son painting services were recommended based on the company’s experience with working in older properties.
“A big and difficult undertaking was the stripping of the interior millwork,” Pettit says, noting that much of the original detail had been obscured over the years under layers of paint. “The stripping was one thing Rick and his guys were really talented with. They were delicate and careful; they knew what they were doing.”
Alas says that in many respects, working inside Carr’s Hill was similar to working on historic homes in Richmond. “It’s comparable to a house on Monument Avenue, with tall ceilings and big mouldings,” he says. “We found plenty of damage to the plaster once we sanded and prepped; then their in-house plasterers and mud guys came in to make repairs before we painted.”
With so many trades working simultaneously in one space, to meet the project deadline, the Holtz team got creative. “Luis was instrumental in getting the job done,” Pettit says. “The team came in on weekends and worked off-hours to facilitate the schedule. They were active and willing participants in the project.”
President Ryan and his family moved into the renovated home in early January 2020. On his Instagram, the president posted that he hopes Carr’s Hill will continue to be “a home for the community to enjoy.”
Carr’s Hill will be open Monday, April 17, as part of the Garden Club of Virginia’s 2023 Historic Garden Week. For more information, visit vagardenweek.org.
Special thanks to photographer Todd Wright for sharing his images of Carr’s Hill