Today we’d like to introduce you to Brett Williams.
Brett, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I got my undergraduate degree from Augustana College in Rock Island IL in fine art and business. My first career was in advertising at Leo Burnett working in digital imaging. Servicing creatives was a tough job that pushed me away from wanting to deal with clients. I left in 2004 to start Element Worx and try my hand at fixing up homes for resale. The Oak Park housing market was hot and there was a demand for completely renovated homes. I would spend about a year fixing up a home from top to bottom and including hardscaping and landscaping. Most of the homes I purchased were small and needed additional living space. I started small with attic build-outs using dormers but quickly moved into adding full second stories and rear additions. Turning these homes into precious pieces of art was really enjoyable. My wife and kids enjoyed the process as well and we frequently wanted to move into the home when completed. This was especially true when we would stage the finished product with most of the furniture from our home. My days in advertising helped me with the marketing and negotiating of the sale.
When the market crashed in 2008 I was no longer comfortable relying solely on flipping homes yet reluctant to take on clients. Some good friends wanted to do a significant addition to their home and were insistent that I do it. That led to many other jobs with friends. For me it is very important to choose clients who you get along with very well, especially when the projects are big. It’s like moving in with a family for 6+months when you are doing a major remodel project.
Has it been a smooth road?
At first I was reluctant to hire out to much work for fear that I would be spending too much money. It took a while to realize how much longer my projects were taking when I was trying to do everything myself and that time is money. Nevertheless it was good for me to experience the work first hand, I learned a lot about what not to do. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s how you learn but you should not be making the same mistakes twice. Learning and making mistakes on my own houses gave me the confidence I needed to take on projects for others. Navigating the ins and outs of the Oak Park building department, Historic commission as well as zoning has been a learning experience.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Element Worx is a small design build construction company that specializes in building coach houses and remodeling of older homes in Oak Park. We are known for our creativity and our craftsman quality and passion for custom projects.
My favorite projects are coach houses or “garagemahals”. In the last few years these backyard retreats have gotten very popular with clients pushing the envelope on amenities. We recently completed a 50’ addition to a garage to house an indoor basketball court for the kids. I love being invited over to clients/friends’ homes for parties several years after a remodeling project and being reminded what good work we do.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Oak Park is a great city for this type of work, there is an abundance of very old homes needing attention. Nevertheless, there is a lot to learn about older homes and the surprises they throw at you.
- Address: 212 N Harvey Ave
Oak Park, IL 60302
- Website: elementworx.com
- Phone: 708.359.8873
- Email: email@example.com