Cadre General Contractors
Cadre General Contractors stays focused on the details with the extensive experience of its staff and partners.
By Staci Davidson, Senior Editor at Knighhouse Media
Smart builders know that a high-end, custom home doesn’t just come together. To provide homeowners with the highest level of quality in a home that exceeds their dreams, it takes a lot of work. That is an understatement. Cadre General Contractors knows this well, and has its own method of delivering memorable homes, ensuring that it builds quality relationships along the way.
Cadre is known for its unique and modern homes, which it delivers based experience of its team, who have a reputation for executing detailed work. Cadre Co-Owner and Partner Rusty Conway had grown up in Boulder, Colo., when the town was changing from an agricultural community to more of an urban environment, and he was surrounded by building sites.
A fascination by this led him into construction. “I found a company that would hire me as a laborer,” he explains. “I showed up with no skills or tools, but I promised to bring my best effort every day. Within three years, I had leveraged the experience of the talented carpenters I was working with, and they really taught me a lot. I learned how to tolerate working in an attic on a summer day and how to crawl into a crawlspace and get it mucked out. I learned how hard those physical trades work and how much respect they deserve. It all started there for me.”
It was that experience and respect that brought him to Cadre with two other partners, as well as a team of craftspeople who know how to deliver quality details in custom homes and remodels. The company’s experience not only involves a high level of craftsmanship, but also knowledge on how to navigate tricky permitting processes in multiple municipalities and making nice with city officials.
Combined, all of this expertise helps Cadre maintain clients’ budget and schedule desires. “We stay detailed by leveraging the experience of the people who work for this company,” Conway says. “You have no idea how lucky I feel to be surrounded by the talent that we have stacked on our roster. We have so many people who have been in construction for 20 to 30 years and it shows in our work. We can communicate detailing problems via drawings and help clarify everything before mistakes get built. We also collaborate closely between the designers and contractors, helping discover where the intent is clear but the drawings are in conflict. Or maybe the drawings don’t match, or the structural engineer’s drawings are in conflict with the architect’s drawings. We have the skills to clarify all of that.”
On the Same Page
One of Cadre’s current projects is a single-family residence in downtown Denver. Like most urban cores, this is not an area that sees a lot of single-family homes, and here the project site is surrounded by large high-rises, mostly multifamily condominium or apartment buildings. This adds to the degree of difficulty in the project, but Cadre is dedicated to working through the complexity to deliver a quality project for which it is known.
Conway explains the project team had to secure an easement agreement between the large commercial structure directly to the north of the project site, because the new residence will be built right up against the property line. As a result, Cadre had to do some of its work on the commercial property, so it’s building the new home in three stages, building the north side of the home up to the finish height to stay in accordance with the agreement.
This is just one example of Cadre’s creative problem solving because it was able to satisfy the project schedule and respect the commercial property’s rights by building the home out of sequence. Conway notes this helps the company remain a good partner to all involved. “When we are invited to discuss a project with an architect or an owner, we try to establish right away a preconstruction agreement,” he says. “That gets everyone on the same page, and allows us to work as a team toward a common goal. We’re not having months and months of expending resources without being compensated because our agreements are plain and simple. We work closely with everyone involved so everyone understands what it will take to make these details work.
“We partner with our clients so they understand how some early decisions can be really big cost drivers later in the project – if they are too integrated, there is no easy way of backing out,” he continues. “We show them when a design is cost-prohibitive and describe what the alternatives are. All successful projects are the result of a cohesive and functional team – everyone has to have an equal stake in the project’s success and invest an equal amount of energy.”
Cadre has been working in the Denver homebuilding industry for more than 25 years, allowing it to solidify multiple relationships with the best contractors doing residential work in the area. For each project, the company strives to pair the subcontractors and designers who are best suited to executive the owner’s desires for their home.
Conway stresses that this results in “a lot of really fantastic projects,” but he adds Cadre’s own team also is key in project success. “We only have about five to seven projects in a calendar year,” he says. “With our employees, all of our superintendents have been in the construction industry almost all their lives. One of our project managers ran his own framing company for a decade before joining us. One of my superintendents ran his own exterior trim company for a decade before coming here. All of our guys are carpenters or came from the trades, and our superintendents know exactly what needs to be done because they’ve spent their entire adult lives in custom homebuilding, or even longer because they grew up working with their dads.”
He notes that Cadre continues to improve to be even better at project delivery. Previously, for example, whoever brought in a project ended up being the project manager for the entirety of the work, but that would cause holes in the company’s overall schedule. He explains it was a good process on a single-project basis, but it wasn’t good for long-term growth of the company.
In terms of growth, Cadre is looking for more people. “It takes a while to find the right people,” Conway says. “I want ‘construction unicorns.’ People who can speak with subcontractors and our clients and make all of them feel comfortable and at ease. They have to know how to work from finish backwards to structure – it takes a high level of talent to succeed here. We want people with passion who ask questions, stay engaged and are excited about coming to work.”
That is how he describes Cadre’s current workforce, and he is extremely proud of what the company has achieved with the team it already has. “I am equally focused on the wellbeing and health of this fantastic staff, but I’m also proud of all of the clients who are happy to live in these gorgeous spaces that we get to help build,” Conway says. “Our goal for 2019 is to be constantly be asking how we can be better at what we do because it’s important to keep improving.”