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No job too large or too small

North Liberty’s Home Repair Team builds on 20 years of excellence
Julie, Rob, Mitch, Tim, Travis and Stacey pose with the 2017 Don Novak Remodeler of the Year award and the Iowa City Area Home Builders Association 2017 Remodeler of the Year award. Home Repair Team received the annual awards for their work and accomplishments in their community, and for their involvement in the industry. (photo provided by Home Repair Team)

NORTH LIBERTY– What started out as a simple handyman service 20 years ago has grown into an award winning, full-service design-build, handyman and remodeling business.
Home Repair Team (HRT) started in 1998 when Rob Hajek and his father-in-law Dale Steffen started doing small home repair projects and improvement jobs. His wife Julie came onboard in 2001 to handle the administration side of the business, and his father Dick Hajek joined the company in 2005. Dick Hajek and Dale Steffen both retired in 2009.
In addition to handyman work, HRT has a mobile home division, tackling maintenance and repair projects on manufactured housing units. As time went on, it grew into taking on larger and larger remodeling jobs.
“A lot of our customers that we were doing work for started asking us to do larger jobs,” Hajek said. “We grew right into the remodeling phase. We grew really fast.”
In 2010, HRT started its HRT Building and Remodeling Division in addition to the handyman and repairs division. HRT Building and Remodeling gets into large remodeling projects, room additions, large kitchens and commercial work.
Not only can HRT add to your current home, they’ll help with a brand new custom-designed house.
“In April 2017, we picked up the Stratford custom modular new home line,” Hajek explained.
According to a press release from HRT, Stratford has completed over 11,500 modular buildings since its inception in 1973, which were delivered throughout the Midwest and parts of Canada.
“There are so many details involved with building a new home that we select and work with only experienced general contractors,” Vice President of Operations at Stratford Homes Russ Marti said. “Not only is every customer unique, but so is every job site. The average homebuyer needs a reputable general contractor to organize all the different aspects required to construct and finish the home. We feel Home Repair Team/HRT Building and Remodeling will provide expertise and guide the home buyer through an enjoyable building experience.”
Stratford homes are custom built to the customer’s plan, with several stock models also available. The homes are “stick built,” but with a major difference. Stratford’s homes are built inside a climate-controlled factory.
“When that product shows up to our jobsite, its never been rained inside of, the plywood’s never been rained on,” Hajek noted.
HRT got involved with Stratford through working with NeuroRestorative (a company operating residential facilities in several states for people who have suffered brain injuries). So far HRT has built one Stratford home, a five-bedroom residential facility in Cedar Rapids.
“They wanted to go to a modular home. We’d been doing projects where we’ve taken an existing home and converted it into a five-bedroom facility home,” he said.
Hajek looked at various modular homebuilders, and the more he looked at Stratford, the more he liked what he saw.
Another factor was a nationwide shortage of workers in the skilled trades: construction, plumbing, electrical and heating. By needing only a minimal crew on the job site to connect the modular units and do the finish work, the man hours to complete the job are greatly reduced. In addition to the climate controlled facility, Stratford has a stringent quality control throughout the construction process, Hajek noted.“They’re inspecting the framing with laser levels to a degree that just does not happen out in the field,” he explained. “Everything’s inspected, everything’s quality controlled, everything’s environmentally controlled. So, the end product is very, very good. If you walked through the one that we did, you’d never know it was set (into place) by a crane.”
In other words, the homes look no different than a site-built, and have a wide variety of options for customers to choose from.
“We can still stick-build a home if we needed to, some additions we’ve done were bigger than the original house, but this is just another option that we have, that’s a little different, a little unique, and gives us something to sell that’s different from everybody else,” he added.
HRT still does the handyman jobs, and keeps its crews busy along with remodeling projects.
“We get a lot of calls,” Hajek said. “And we do probably 20 service calls a week, on average.”
HRT does have an hour-and-a-half minimum charge, but is able to take on a variety of tasks.
“A lot of it is repairs,” said Hajek. “Water leaks, tons of roof water leaks, deck leaks, window water leaks, things blown off (shingles, soffit, pieces of siding). We’ll hang TV brackets (for wall-mounted flat screens) for people, we do towel bars, grab bars (for safety in tubs and showers) and hanging big pictures.”
Roughly 15 years ago, he recalled, HRT was contracted to hang a $100,000 mural in a factory in West Branch.
“We’ve done some really unique things. We still do a lot of service, and the Home Repair Team side does all the way up through bathroom remodels.” Anything bigger gets sent to the HRT Building and Remodeling division.
The Building and Remodeling division came about in part to highlight the company’s ability to take on large remodeling projects, including commercial buildings.
“They thought we only did home repairs, home remodeling,” he said. “They didn’t think of us to do major additions or office remodels, even though we did a lot of them.”
Both divisions operate out of the same facility along Highway 965 and all calls from minor repair through major addition are handled internally by the same staff, making HRT a one-stop shop.
The company’s staff of professionals brings years of experience to every jobsite, and the learning never stops.
Keeping up can be challenging.
“It’s almost daily that new products and new technology are available. We try to train as much as we can with that,” Hajek noted. “Our guys bring ideas to us that they see, they read a lot of the trade journals and trade magazines and stay up on things that way, as well.”
Staying current proves handy as HRT’s workers face different scenarios practically every day out in the field.
“There’s not too many projects that are ever the same,” Hajek said. “Every job, even though it may be a bathroom remodel, there’s some different color, there’s some different product, different shower door, different faucets. You don’t do too many of the same thing anymore.”
Fifteen years ago, he said, the jobs were a lot more similar.
With so many options available now, even for a bathroom remodel, it presents homeowners the ability to truly customize their homes. And HRT staff is available to present a plethora of choices in their show room.
Customers can look at a variety of products, including a working demonstration shower, review plans on a computer screen and look at color selections.
When design work is needed, HRT utilizes Chief Architect Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.
“Julie does all of that,” Hajek said. “She does kitchen plans and plan layouts. She can sit in here (with the customer) and make changes right in front of them. It’s pretty neat.”
HRT is the general contractor for most jobs, meaning it handles all necessary permits and inspections, and lines up any needed subcontractors (plumbing and electrical). This allows HRT to control the job and the flexibility to work with contractors they are familiar with, and who know and live up to expectations for workmanship, timely completion and warranty.
“We can put it together fairly quick,” Hajek said. “Our average bathroom remodel is less than two weeks. We’re usually in and out of there in a week and a half start-to-finish, because we get everybody lined up.”
One of HRT’s biggest strengths, he said, is a concerted effort to keep on schedule as often as possible, barring any unforeseen complications.
“We pride ourselves when we start a job, we finish it. You may wait to get us there, but when we start that project we’re not leaving until it’s done,” he said. “We’re not going to stop and come back three weeks later. That’s why we can turn a bathroom in a week and a half, or a kitchen remodel in six to eight weeks.“We’re there to start this job, finish, and move on,” he added. “We do not like jobs that are not finished to our schedule. We’ll work overtime, we’ll work Saturdays if we have to, because our schedule is so tight.”
Building a relationship with customers is key, as is earning their trust, Hajek said.
“Ninety percent of our clients are not home when we’re doing work for them. So that’s a huge amount of trust,” he said. “We invite them in here to go over contracts, we want them to see who we are, see our office, we’re not working out of the back of a truck… you know where to find us, you can walk in our door; and when our guys show up to do the job, that we have your trust. We protect your floors and we set up zip walls, and we use air filter machines. We treat your home like it’s ours, so trust is a huge, huge thing.”
HRT serves the Corridor, as well as Mount Vernon, Tiffin, Solon, West Branch, Hills and as far west as Williamsburg. For the right client they have even traveled to Galena and Lake of the Ozarks.
Call 319-626-4663 to schedule a project consultation. HRT is located at 2698 Reservoir Dr. NE, north of North Liberty. HRT is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HomeRepairTeam/ and has a website (soon to be updated) at www.homerepairteam.com.
“We just thank all of our customers. If it wasn’t for people that have supported us for 20 years, we wouldn’t be here,” Hajek said. “Without them, without all our employees, it wouldn’t happen.”

Honors, Awards and Certifications:

2017 Remodeler of the Year - Greater Cedar Rapids Home Builders Association2017 Remodeler of the Year - Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association2014 Exterior Excellence Award Runner Up for Norandex2013 Rob Hajek - Home Builders of Iowa President2010 Remodeler of the Year - Cedar Rapids Home Builders Association2007 Remodeler of the Year - Iowa City Home Builders AssociationCertified Aging in Place Specialists - CAPSCertified Graduate Remodeler - CGRCertified Green Professional - CGPResidential Construction Supervisor - RCSCAPS Board of Governors - National Association of Home Builders RemodelersSecond Vice President Rob Hajek - Home Builders Association of IowaNational Director for NAHB - Iowa City Home Builders AssociationRemodeler’s Council Chair - Cedar Rapids Home Builders Association