Building a High End, Quality Reputation
It takes years of success and dedication to earn the kind of reputation Kevin Hunstad enjoys in and around San Luis Obispo County, California. It takes years and astutely directed collaborative efforts by skilled associates, to design and build upscale homes that generate word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business year after year, even during the recent recession.
“We’ve built about 325 homes since 1984,” says Hunstad. Look through his company’s diverse portfolio and Hunstad’s stylistic acumen is evident, inside and out. In 31 years, Hunstad has carefully culled contingent of architects, designers and subcontractors to ensure that his custom homes live up to expectations.
Over the years, custom versus spec homes have been about a 50-50 split, although custom work dominated projects after the 2008 recession. Historically, Hunstad homes have been in the 3,000 sq. ft. range, taking 5-8 months to complete, and pricing out at $1 million to $1.2 million, depending on the home’s specific location.
To Execute Distinctive Interior Designs, ‘the Board Makes a Difference’
While creating an extensive variety of residential offerings, Hunstad Homes is also known for their distinctive interiors featuring radiuses, insets, beamed ceilings, curvilinear soffits and other stylish touches. The task of bringing all this to life falls largely on the shoulders of George Silva, the owner of Central Drywall, Inc. in nearby Grover Beach.
A 40-year drywall veteran, Silva opened his own business in 1993 and has been Hunstad’s go-to drywall contractor for about 20 years.
“Kevin was one of my first builders,” Silva says. “He builds nothing but quality houses. Hunstad’s work and reputation is well known in the area; Kevin gave me a chance, and his support helped me move my business forward. PABCO was the first board on my jobs,” Silva reveals. Although Silva has also tried other brands while working for various homebuilders and expanding into commercial projects, he has used PABCO® Gypsum products exclusively for more than eight years.
Making a point the work has been consistently good and Silva’s Central Drywall exemplifies Hunstad’s focus on long-term relationships, Hunstad noted, “When you get a team that’s working, I stay with it. A lot of builders put everything out to bid, but I just use the guys I know who do quality work.”
Sometimes delivering Hunstad quality isn’t easy. For instance: “Nooks and crannies make homes more interesting,” Hunstad contends. “It’s a bit more time-consuming, but George’s people know what they’re doing.”
Silva goes further, citing radiuses. “We have so many radiuses. In many houses we’ll do framing – we have benders and such – where we have to bend that board in order to make those radiuses. It’s pretty intense. The board makes a difference; some boards are a little bit heavier, a little bit stiffer; or they’re burned a little more, they cook a little longer – you know, that ‘chalk’? Or the paper’s a little different, a little thicker. Just any drywall won’t do so I stay with a board that I don’t have problems with.”
PABCO Variety, Consistency Pays on High End Residential as well as Commercial Projects
“PABCO is the first board on my jobs,” reiterates Silva. He notes that his company grew fast and once built as many as 300 homes a year for area developers. Silva expanded into the commercial arena: schools, hotels, shopping centers, theatres, supermarkets and outlet malls, and fast food restaurant chains. Today, Central handles 75 homes a year plus commercial work.
“If it has to do with drywall, we get our hands on it. Because around here, in order to get the drywall you have to have the other trades: steel framing, T-bar, all of it. My license covers ‘drywall-plus’, so when a builder hires me, I bring in the rest.”
Silva’s willingness and ability to use PABCO® exclusively, is aided by long-term partner delivered by Westside Building Materials in Santa Maria.
“They have every kind of board for any installation, interior and exterior,” Silva points out. A few exterior examples: PABCO® Gypsum sheathing, Exterior Soffit board, and “tough as nails” PABCO Glass® paperless Sheathing – a fiberglass reinforced product that meets and exceeds ASTM C1177 – and achieves the highest water and mold-resistance score possible when tested in accordance with ASTM D3273.
When asked about differences between high end residential and commercial installations, Silva says, “Essentially, there isn’t any. Fire resistant drywall, moisture and mold resistance, soundproofing – PABCO has it all. Commercial customers are very picky, and many of our projects are schools that, for example, must adhere to strict fire, health and safety regulations.
“You have to have good material. You can’t have paper that’s burning through or striking or shadowing. A Hunstad Home gets the same PABCO products that we install commercially.”
Proven Drywall Options Throughout Hunstad Homes
One of the most common interior products is fire resistant PABCO FLAME CURB® Type X for walls, ceilings and room partitions, curvilinear soffits and wall sections. All FLAME CURB products meet ASTM standard C1396, tested in a certified laboratory to ASTM E119.
Hunstad Homes also include PABCO MOLD CURB® Plus around bathrooms, custom hot tubs and other wet areas. MOLD CURB Plus is engineered with mold and water-resistant chemistry throughout to achieve the highest possible score when tested by third-party microbiological laboratories to ASTM D3273. They also have a fire-resistant, non-combustible gypsum core.
PABCO Ceiling Board, PABCO FLEX™ and other specialty products are well suited for different applications. “I will try different things,” Silva acknowledges, “but even if it’s cheaper, the guys in the field have to feel comfortable or I won’t deal with it. We pretty much stick with what we know.”
PABCO’s QuietRock® line, specifically engineered to reduce sound transmission across a broad frequency range, is ideal for any room where sound privacy or reducing unwanted noise is the primary goal. QuietRock’s patented EZ-SNAP technology allows Central Drywall installers to simply score, snap and hang the panel like regular drywall.
“We once used sound board but QuietRock® is easier and simpler. You get superior soundproofing with a single layer,” Hunstad points out. PABCO’s flagship QuietRock® 545, tested as high as 80 STC (Sound Transmission Class), and is also the choice for theater rooms in Hunstad Homes, as well as commercial cinemas, corporate media rooms and high tech sound studios such as Sony Computer Entertainment’s own PlayStation studios.
Further emphasizing QuietRock® effectiveness, Silva mentions a recent Central Drywall project involving three homes with helicopter pads. “They wanted QuietRock® around the entire house.”
PABCO’s Handshake – ‘Better Than a Contract’
In addition to PABCO® products, Hunstad and Silva volunteered high praise for the firm and its representatives. “We visited their plant in Las Vegas and it was very impressive,” Hunstad said.
Rusty Riley, PABCO’s Central California Territory Manager, “is probably the best, most honest person I’ve ever met in over 45 years in the drywall business,” Silva asserts. “He’ll tell you how it is and how it will be, and won’t renege on anything. That’s very important to me. A handshake is a lot better than a contract with a man like that.”
All of which points toward more teamwork among PABCO® Gypsum, Hunstad Homes, Hunstad’s contingent of architects, designers and subcontractor Central Drywall, and dealer Fountain Building Materials, including a new residence for Hunstad himself. “I just sold my 5,500-sq. ft. house and downsized into a new one.”