b y Karen Hailson Bouvier | Photo by Charles Tagliarino
Issue: July 2022
“I am inspired and excited by rapidly changing home styles,” Christian Hartmann, President and CEO of Adirondack DreamBuilders of Lake Placid stated. “We started with log homes and then shifted to more Adirondack finishes with bark-on products and twigs. Over the years, we’ve been changing as customers’ requests change. Now we work with more modern style homes and specifications. I like to see new finishes and the use of new materials in other homes and explore how we can incorporate them in ours.”
Solid Experience and Services
A native of Plattsburgh and alumni of Paul Smith’s College, Hartmann has worked in residential construction for 23 years. With a background like that, you would think running a construction company would be easy. He disagrees. “It is impossible to be prepared for this job,” he shared. “It is always changing and I wear many hats, including occasionally working on site. It takes serious commitment and risk taking to get started in business and then consistent hard work to sustain and grow a company.”
As for his management style, Hartmann prefers to focus on the people, not the system, and be innovative rather than administrative. “A manager generally looks at things in the short term, while a leader thinks long term,” he said. “I worked on site most of the time in the early years Recently I have become more the administrator and manager, but I do miss being in the field. It is one of the things I fell in love with — being outside, building with my hands.”
Adirondack DreamBuilders offers over 20 years of custom home building experience and the team is dedicated to not only making clients’ homes beautiful and timeless, but functional, comfortable and affordable. Add their commitment to making the construction process as enjoyable and stress-free as possible and they have reason to call themselves the “premier custom home builder of the Adirondacks”.
Services they offer include custom homes and garages, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, additions and dormers, decks and patios, timber frame and log cabins, boathouse construction, and remodeling. The company was incorporated in 2017. Currently, Hartmann employs 33 people — a combination of full-time, W-2 employees and 1099 dedicated sub-contractors. In addition, he keeps mechanical contractors on hand as well as excavation, foundation, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and insulation professionals.
“Our people only work with wood and stone,” he explained. “We have three full-time stone masons on staff. On any given day, we have about 40 people working on our homes.”
Their all-encompassing and inviting web site was developed, and is managed by Charles Tagliarino of Growtrends Marketing Agency in Plattsburgh.
Focus on the North Country
Hartmann built homes in both the Catskills and Adirondacks, but shifted his focus to the Lake Placid market once he formed a relationship with Andrew Chary, a well-known and talented architect from Saranac Lake. “Chary and I built some great homes together in the Catskills until our reputation really got some traction up north. My relationship with his team has given me the opportunity to construct some of the nicest properties in the North Country.”
By Hartmann’s estimate, 99% of their projects are new build, single-family residences. However, in the past couple of years they have taken on a number of large renovations. They also construct a “spec” home every year. (A spec home is one a builder constructs with the expectation of selling it. When a market is depleted, as it has been during and after the pandemic, spec homes can sell before they are complete.)
Helping Clients with Decisions
Constructing a new home is a joyful, but complex project. Some people buy the land first, then look for an architect and a builder. Others recruit the architect and builder before they decide on a location. (This is the recommended approach, since many clients do not recognize landscape details that make a plot easier to build on, provide drainage and are situated with desirable sun and shade.) Once a location is chosen, a home design must be visualized and drawn. Building materials, fixtures, finishes, and landscaping must be chosen—all on a budget and timeline.
“Our homes traditionally come to us with full construction documents completed,” said Hartmann. “We then work with owners to ‘value engineer’ their design to fit in their budget by adjusting things like finishes and specifications. Our Lead Project Manager, Tom McNichols, organizes and tracks the specifications. Ordering materials can be a tricky task. Some vendors can ship in two days and some in 20 weeks. It takes focus to ensure we have the right components at the right time. Tom is very good at executing details and customizations on our homes.”
Along with McNichols, Adirondack DreamBuilders has Chris Michael, Site Foreman, and a large group of project managers and skilled carpenters. Hartmann and his team also work closely with their sub-contractors to get homes built in a targeted time frame and within budget.
Adirondack DreamBuilders installs well-made high-quality fixtures from multiple vendors from across the U.S. Have they experienced any supply-chain issues recently? “There was a short period of time where some products were impossible to get, but you just can’t let it stop productivity,” confirmed Hartmann, “Lately those issues seem to be correcting themselves. They’re another ‘bump in the road,’ but we are good at pivoting and coming up with alternative choices.”
An extraordinary residential market means that Adirondack DreamBuilders currently has a significant number of new homes to build in the Lake Placid area. Plans to build more middle-income homes are also underway.
“We are not just a luxury home builder in the Lake Placid area,” said Hartmann. “We treat every home the same regardless of size or budget, and do what we can to get a client’s dream home built. I love the fact that I will be able to drive by or visit a home in 10, 15 or 20 years and know I had a hand in building it. Our homes will be standing long after my time and it is a great feeling knowing we put our stamp on the market.”
139 Mill Pond Drive
Lake Placid, NY 12946