For the past year, Everett Pollard, owner of Northcape Design/Build, in Sunapee, N.H., has been scrambling for any little job. “Now we have three custom homes under design,” he says. “We are pricing two now and one is still in design.” He also has a few smaller remodeling projects. “It’s actually looking optimistic,” he says. “If we get all of these, we’d be doing extremely well.”

Pollard is surprised by the new-construction projects. These custom homes are for clients who work in finance in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts who are buying lakeside vacation homes for teardown projects.

The custom homes are an anomaly for Northcape Design/Build. In fact, past clients helped sustain the company with additions, kitchens, and deck replacements. Customers reacted positively when Pollard let them know he had a handyman on staff. “Now people are coming back to us for significant remodels or additions,” he says.

Pollard cut his staff by 50% during the past year, lowered his overhead, and consolidated the company’s two-floor office into one and leased the other floor. Though the New Hampshire economy is not great, Pollard says the state has the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country and was not hit as hard by the recession.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.