When Hurricane Sandy hit our 1892 Stone and Shingle Victorian, it brought down an attached conservatory built in 1928 by the precursor company to the famous Lord and Burnham conservatory builders. When I say “brought down” I am not mincing words.
After we were able to move back into the house 7 weeks later, we began to investigate replacing the greenhouse. It was a special part of what made our home unique, and we were committed to replacing it only if we could find an option that offered the house what it deserved. Of course, we were in negotiations with the insurance company, who priced the replacement at the greenhouse-kit level. But after a little back and forth, they agreed that the replacement had to be up to snuff.
We spoke to a dozen types of builders: from the contractor who was doing the wide range of other repairs on our house, to the local greenhouse merchant. The process felt somewhat like buying a car: big expense, not sure whether you’re being told the truth, nervous about the commitment….
Enter Jim Hewitt of Conservatory Craftsmen. Since the higher end conservatory builders were from all over the country, it didn’t deter me that Jim was located in Minneapolis. He told us lots of his customers were from the east (and the south and the west) and he had several opportunities to come by our home in Yonkers and sit with us to discuss options.
What I can tell you is this: he is a high-service guy who is passionate about his product, and has lots of experience building beautiful structures. His team travels with him in what looks like a horse trailor; they show up, build, chat a little and go. The only glitch seems to be with Jim’s supplier, who is in England. So, sometimes there is a delay due to distance and demand. But the quality of the materials and the workmanship is superb.
We haven’t finished the floors, installed the fans, or furnished yet but I will post what we have and come back when it’s ready for prime time. You can see more finished and furnished conservatories on his website. You have to at least talk to Jim and get his view on your project. Otherwise, you just don’t know what you’re getting.