John Harty (right), fed up with general contracting, read about construction management in Remodeling in 1991. He put what he read into practice, charging clients 13 percent to manage cost-plus jobs. He and his brother, Rich (left), who joined the company in 1989, had a tough time educating the market on the concept, but now they work strictly on referrals. The pair, helped by a part-time office assistant and a site clean-up man, contract reliable subs for such jobs as a recent $1.4 million addition or one recently featured in Better Homes and Gardens. Clients include surgeons and anesthesiologists. “The educated customer sees the value in the construction manager,” John says.

The company competes by making it known that it works for homeowners. There’s never a direct profit motive; line item savings are returned to clients. If clients want another tradesman, fine.

“We try to sell someone on us being elite,” Rich says. “In all aspects, we’re a general contractor, with a different title.”

“It’s semantics, but it’s also carving a niche,” John says. “Part of being a creative remodeler is finding a niche.”