Total Home Manager’s Motivation and Mission Is Home Repair, Management, and Maintenance
Peace of mind. That is what Total Home Manager offers its clients — from the smallest repair to the largest renovation to an on-going coverage and maintenance plan, with 24/7 emergency service.
Imagine not having to worry about the leak in the roof, cleaning the gutters, shoveling the snow, waiting for the plumber to arrive, or painting the house.
This is exactly the scenario that Jim Baxter and Ray Disch, co-owners of Total Home Manager, LLC, can make available for you. You don’t have to move, you get to stay in your own house, and you are relieved of stress and strain and all those pesky details that accompany home ownership.
As its name suggests, Total Home Manager (THM) is prepared to take complete control of maintenance, repair, and management of whatever problems and needs arise.
Established by Jim Baxter, founder and president of Baxter Construction and entrepreneur Ray Disch in 2009, it is headquartered at 31 West Broad Street, Hopewell.
Formerly co-founder and owner of Triumph Brewery Company in Princeton, founder/broker of Disch Real Estate, and currently a real estate broker with Callaway-Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, Mr. Disch saw the need for an overall solution to the various problems that arise in owning a house.
“I continually got calls from people who needed a plumber, electrician, carpenter, furnace repair, blue stone for their terrace, etc.,” he explains. “I kept referring lots of people, and I began to think ‘there’s a business here.’ We could be a resource for repairs, maintenance, and management.
Mr. Baxter had been thinking along similar lines. “It seemed to be a great idea. We had often been asked to do a variety of things by our customers, including small jobs, such as fixing steps, window and door locks, and other repairs. With Total Home Manager (THM), we can do whatever people need, including cleaning the chimney and gutters, sealing the driveway, etc.”
The THM owners had known each other for years, and each brought his particular set of skills to the enterprise.
“As a contractor/builder, Jim has people working for him, whom we can call upon,” points out Mr. Disch. “We guarantee licensed workers, liability insurance, and workman‘s compensation coverage. We vet everyone, and either they worked for Jim, or they are people we know. All the carpentry and handyman-type work is done by Baxter Construction.
“And, in addition, since we give them so much work, the workers give us preferred pricing for our customers. It’s just so much easier for people. We send one invoice to the homeowner instead of their receiving multiple bills. We review the bills, and do all the work for you.”
The service is a boon for a wide range of people — from busy professionals to single homeowners to older people to those who have never owned a house before — adds Mr. Baxter.
“Each job has its own personal project manager. There is always someone overseeing the work. In addition, if people are away, we can watch the house. We have a check list, and we will do weekly inspections to see if water is leaking, if there is storm damage, etc. We’ll even start their car, clean the garage, take care of the pool, and do whatever is necessary.
“Also, when people are away, it can be a great time to do work in the house, including putting in a new kitchen, new floors, or other renovation or remodeling projects.”
The THM customer base is growing, report the owners, who are very encouraged with the success of the business. As they point out, customers are often people who travel, and are frequently away from home for long stays.
“One of our customers went to Maine for three months, another to Florida for six months, and still another to Hong Kong for a year,” says Mr. Baxter. “They gave us keys to the house, and we took care of everything for them. In some cases, they might need a new water heater or sump pump, or they might decide they want landscaping services. We provide everything, and customers appreciate the service, support, and level of trust that we offer them.”
“We have doubled the sales every year, and we have had hundreds of ‘a la carte’ projects, as well as 40 current comprehensive plan clients,” reports Mr. Disch. “It has been great to see the business grow from scratch.”
Continuing relationships with the clients is very important, he adds. “Our business is relationship-based. The focus is relationships, not projects. We build lasting relationships with people. For example, a new homeowner moved to Princeton, and her husband was away. Super Storm Sandy was predicted, and she didn’t know how to start the generator. We took care of it for her.
“In another case, a woman had an incident when her door key broke in the lock. It was raining, and she was alone in the car with her kids. We had been doing work for her, and she called us. We had a key to the back door, and we got there within an hour.”
As stated, the company is able to furnish a complete range of service providers — from plumbers and electricians to carpenters and roofers to painters and pool professionals. However, even when a customers signs up for one of the comprehensive plans, there is still flexibility. As Mr. Disch notes, “If clients have a plumber or some other service person they especially like, they can keep that person. We respect their existing relationships.”
Customers range from those wanting small individual repairs or maintenance jobs to those who are involved in large, on-going projects. They are located in a 15-mile radius, and have included jobs in Princeton, Hopewell, Pennington, Lawrence, and Bucks County, among others.
The work is primarily residential, but the owners are pleased to have recently added two non-profit organizations to their list of clients: the Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill and The Historical Society of Princeton, with its new headquarters at the Updike Farmstead.
Studies have shown that preventive maintenance is many times more cost effective than reactive maintenance after something has failed, point out Mr. Baxter and Mr. Disch. THM offers two plans, the Gold or Silver, for people who wish to have more comprehensive service and management coverage. These plans vary in scope, and there is a choice to fit every situation. The right plan can be customized to the client’s needs, life-style, budget, and age of the house. They will include home inspection, on-going repair recommendations (including priority repairs), quick response time (immediate turnaround), preferred pricing, and opportunities for energy audits, and a variety of optional inspections (lead paint, radon, mold, and insect/pest inspection).
These plans can be paid for on a yearly or monthly basis, and as Mr. Disch notes, “We also have budget plans to pay over time. We know that not everyone can afford to do everything at once.”
The Handyman Plus plan is another option, and offers opportunities for small individual repairs in its membership plan. It also includes 24/7 emergency response, personal home manager, preferred pricing, and a single source for scheduling, repairs and maintenance, with one itemized invoice for work done during the month.
In addition to their overall services, THM now includes design systems focusing on aging-in-place or universal design. “I am certified by the National Association of Home Builders as a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS),” explains Mr. Baxter.
“Many older people want to stay in their own home, and we can help determine their needs. Widening doorways, adding ramps, shower or tub grab bars, slip-resistant flooring, and other design features and modifications are all available. Aging-in-Place design is actually Better Living Design and Universal Design: that is, designing for accessibility for life. We also have CAPS on-going education that emphasizes adaptability and accessibility.”
Adds Mr. Disch: “The design is so well done, that many times you can walk into a house and not even realize it is for someone with special needs. In addition, it can be done in such a way that certain features, such as a ramp, can be removed later if the house is sold, and the new owner doesn’t need these features. It really can be universal design.”
Both Mr. Disch and Mr. Baxter stress the necessity of regular home maintenance. “When we provide the home analysis, we’ll point out what the owner can expect over time. If people do the repairs now, they will ultimately save money.”
Mr. Disch also points out the importance of maintaining the house as an investment for a future sale. “Our service is great if the owner decides to sell the house later. When the inspections are done, the buyer will see that everything is in very good condition, and also, if there is time left on the plan, the new owner can be covered.”
“We think we have the perfect answer for today’s world: a single source solution for complete interior and exterior home repair and management service,” continues Mr. Baxter. “One call, one solution. It doesn’t get better than that! Call us for a complimentary evaluation.”
(609) 466-3355. Website: www.totalhomemanager.com.