But at least one business, Sun Busters Patio Covers in Brentwood, has not only survived but thrived during the downturn. The business had been located in Rio Vista, but a few years ago owner by Alan Lee moved to Brentwood, where most of his customers are located.
“We had developed a large clientele from doing business in Brentwood since ’98,” said Lee. “And over the years we would get more people calling and wanting our services. Probably 65 percent of our business is referral from other customers we have built patio covers for over the years. So we thought it would be a good move to Brentwood so we could serve them better. Over the last three years we have been really busy. We have an eight-week backlog of work.”
Lee has more than 25 years of experience in the home-improvement business. He got his start in the 1980s, when he had free time while stationed with the Navy in Pensacola, Fla., helping rebuild houses wrecked by hurricanes. That experience plus the skills and knowledge he gained as a parachute rigger in the Navy have been incorporated in his custom designs and ensure the strength of his structures beyond that specified by the manufacturer or building code.
One reason Lee hasn’t been affected by the recession is that he doesn’t subcontract out his work. “Subcontractors do not do as good a job as with me being the contractor with my own employees that I can supervise on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “In addition, we work with our customers to fit their financial budget – not what we want to sell them. We will discuss what their needs are and their budget and try to build them a patio cover that they can enjoy for the budget that they have.”
Sun Busters specializes in freestanding or attached pergolas, trellis, lattice, insulated and louvered roof patio covers. Costs run about $10 per square foot. The average patio cover measures 12x20 feet for a total cost of $2,400. That’s cheaper than the pre-recession rate of $14 per square foot. And Sun Busters currently offers an even better deal: a 12x18 lattice patio cover for $1,950.
Lee recommends getting three estimates or bids in order to benefit from the ideas and knowledge of various home improvement experts, and comparing the quality of the products and amount of experience they offer as well as the price. Sun Busters bids are good for 12 to 18 months.
Sun Busters Patio Covers is located at 700 Harvest Park Drive, Suite F, in Brentwood. For more information, call 925-625-0120 or go online to www.sunbustersinc.com.