We can tell you what we can do, but it's best that you hear it from the folks who paid the bill. Here are a bunch of happy thrill seekers who wrote something nice.
"Rich completed 2 very different and imaginative projects for us: a fireplace surround in our master bedroom, and restoration of leaded glass windows as a guest bath’s cupboard doors.
The fireplace mantel is simple and clean in appearance, but getting to the final result was complex, involving scale and proportion to fit the space. We wanted the surround to look similar to limestone, although it was made of wood. Rich worked meticulously on this till he was satisfied, and the result is just what we envisioned.
The 2nd project was more difficult: a pair of heavy leaded-glass doors belonging to a built-in cupboard; they were salvage pieces. The width of the doors total 4 ft., so they are quite large. They had the chippy paint finish of doors that had not been touched in years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep them as-is, but wanted Rich to make them come as close as possible. After cleaning & lightly sanding them, he worked for many days applying multiple thin coats of paint, curing & sanding in between, to re-build the look of age and use.
He selected highest-quality soft-close hidden hinges to run the entire length of each door, after it was impossible to find the right decorative hinges for the outside able to hold the weight of these solid wood doors. Space restrictions also came into play. Now the full impact of the look I wanted is achieved, while the soft-close will protect the fragile leaded glass from daily use.
Next, we could NOT find the right latch fastener. All proportions were not right, we could not find an unlacquered brass finish, and style-wise the majority were too Victorian and too ornate, as well as too flimsy.
Here again, Rich’s absolute commitment to detail came through - while out one weekend on a personal antiquing expedition with his wife, he found the perfect latch. It is literally a one in a million serendipitous find.
I plan to have Rich work on several more creative projects in the near future. I trust his judgement and his imaginative eye. The ideas I threw at him were very subjective, but in both cases, he “got” what I wanted. Just as important, he was willing to keep trying until he did.
I can recommend him without hesitation. He is that rare craftsman not found anymore.”
— LYNDA SMARG - BURLINGTON, VERMONT
"Our entrance doors were beaten up and parched to within an inch of their lives, but I cringed at the idea of replacing them with ordinary, new doors without any character. Could they be rescued? Rich was not only enthusiastic about restoring our antique doors so that they last another generation, but he has the expertise to pull it off. He understands the power of aesthetics and how something as unheralded as a door can transform the presentation of a house. Without my asking, Rich looped me into the doors’ progress with photos and was incredibly flexible about logistics — no small matter when your front door is out!”
— REBECCA FOSTER - CHARLOTTE, VERMONT
"I met Rich when I put out a request for a craftsman to repurpose an antique Maple spool bed that had been made by, and used by at least 5 of the 7 generations of my native Vermont family. My own father and his father had been born in that bed, I used it until I left my parents' home, and three of my own children had their turn with it as 'their' bed. When I built a new home in 2017, I did not have a place for its original use and envisioned it to be a focal point where folks could sit and read or chat. It would not be put away in the basement collecting dust. As I shared this story with Rich, I could see that he absolutely "got" the importance of this family heritage piece. I provided a general sense of what I was looking for in a bench, and he took it from there. When he and his son, Carson, arrived to place it in its new home, it was more beautiful than I had ever been able to envision myself. Rich has the soul of an artist and the skill of a true craftsman. Our family's treasure lives on in a new way, and for that, I am truly grateful."
— LIANNA PERCY - SHELBURNE, VERMONT
“Thank you for making the beautiful wood sign for my daughter's wedding. They absolutely loved it. They hung it up on Friday night, so it was there for the wedding on Saturday. I appreciate your patience since I had to frequently check with them. I know it made the whole process longer. Also, you arranging to have it delivered when I was with them in Arizona was a nice surprise. The card, Vermont magnet and Vermont Smoke & Cure item were a thoughtful touch. I will definitely be recommending your business in the future.”
— KIM SOODAK - ESSEX JUNCTION, VERMONT
“Throughout a six-month design phase, Rich collaborated closely with me in designing a floating trellis that suspends just below the ceiling of my West facing outdoor patio. His process is both disciplined and thorough and while we entertained many iterations of this design along the way, the final concept was one that Rich came up with on his own which represented everything that I was aspiring to embrace but wasn’t able to fully imagine – he is a true craftsman and operates in a class of his own!”
— NED CHURCH - BURLINGTON, VERMONT
“We couldn’t be more pleased our new custom built-ins by Rich Ahrens of Building Character LLC. Not only is the craftsmanship of bookshelves, cabinetry and drawers top-notch, but Rich was respectful of our ideas, while making suggestions for transforming our cramped space into a beautiful custom living room.”
— ROSE & MIKE EGGERT, S. BURLINGTON, VERMONT
“Rich, I got the Mad River Glen trail signs. Absolutely stunning, faux scratches and all. Am really excited to hang on my wall. Thanks again. I'm sure I will be reaching out in the future for that Paradise sign to be added to my den back home. Wow!”
— KEVIN ANDERSON, MASSACHUSETTS
“We recently moved to South Burlington and purchased a condo. We wanted to expand an existing book case and add a window seat with storage. Luckily we found Rich Ahrens of Building Character. Rich is incredible. He took our original idea and had some great ideas. The results are outstanding. His work is impeccable and he is a delight to work with. We have already begun discussing several other projects with him!”
— ELIZABETH DAVIS, S. BURLINGTON, VERMONT
“Rich is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable craftsman I have ever worked with. He is professional, creative and incredibly knowledgeable about a vast body of methods and materials. Communication is always clear and his work comes in ahead of schedule and exceeds your expectations. ”
— CLAIRE GEAR, DIRECTOR SHELBURNE CRAFT SCHOOL
"I only have one problem with this board it is far too beautiful to use !! The craftsmanship is amazing and has received so many compliments. It's a perfect match to the place mats also by Building Character. I will highly recommend these items and definitely shop again."
— JAN EDDELSON, DURHAM, GREAT BRITAIN, U.K.
“Rich is a master craftsman who has a very strong work ethic. His impeccable attention to detail is what makes his work above the rest.”
— MELISSA JONES, CHARLOTTE, VERMONT
“Rich Ahrens (Building Character LLC) has done a variety of work for me, and I can’t recommend him highly enough! He is prompt, meticulous and extraordinarily helpful. He’s the person I’ll call for future projects.”
— MELROSE HUFF, CHARLOTTE, VERMONT
“We hired Rich for a series of custom projects and the end result was top notch. He was great to work with and super trustworthy to have in our home. Friends and family regularly comment on the staircase bookshelves Rich installed! We will definitely continue to use him for future projects.”
— ALICIA LAMONDA, SOUTH BURLINGTON, VERMONT