i2M Construction LLC
by Craig Stevens
In one of the homes in Shaker Bay resides a personable, articulate young couple who are among the builders of other homes on the same hillside. They bring a classy, sophisticated and highly professional approach to homebuilding. As the accompanying photographs demonstrate, the results are stunning. Heretofore, their accomplishments as homebuilders in Shaker Bay and elsewhere have not been widely known. We are about to change that.
The couple’s names are Corey and Kimberly Ingerson. Their company, established in 2004, is named i2M Construction, LLC. Hmm. i2M, how did they arrive at that? A mystery to be solved before we go on. “Our last name is Ingerson and we have two daughters, Morgen and McKenna,” replied Kim. Mystery solved.
Both the Ingersons are graduates of Rochester Institute of Technology, the college where they met. Kim grew up in the Capital Region, Corey in New York, Philadelphia. Kim studied industrial design, Corey civil engineering. Today they are so in tune with each other that they finish each other’s sentences.
Kim recalls that “I went to school for product design. I thought I would be designing phones or hair dryers: all the cosmetics of how they look and how they integrate. Then I met Corey. After an internship, he got a job here. So I looked for employment in my field, but it is not New York City. The closest I came was trade show exhibits. The company did work for high-end, Fortune 500 companies. At the same time, Corey worked as a heavy construction engineer, specifically building bridges and highways. Eventually he would establish his own endeavor in the same industry, New Century Construction in 2000.
How i2M came to be
Their first building project was their first home. Kim says: “We were 24- or 25-years-old when we bought 3.5 acres in Clifton Park. We built a 3,000 square foot Cape Cod. …” At which point Corey interjects: “… with details. We did a lot of it ourselves and as we kept doing it, we just loved it. Couldn’t get enough of it. We did it every night and every weekend until it was done. Then we settled into our careers. We were there five years when we started to get the itch again and learned about Shaker Bay. We came down and met with the developer and bought a lot. Due to our careers we actually hired a manager to oversee construction. That didn’t go well. Two months into it we were as much involved as we were the first time not hands on anymore, but managing.” Kim adds: “We stayed there just two years, then we built this one.”
Continuing, Corey says: “This lot that we are on was part of the second phase. It always appealed to us, but it wasn’t ready when we first built here. We built this on our own completely. We started to meet new subs and got involved with Curtis Lumber pretty extensively. Then a visitor came knocking on our door. We invited him in and walked around. A short time later we had a house signed up! From there it snowballed. First was a subcontractor to my highway business, and then others including a $1 million home in Latham. By that time we had three going at one time, each over $1 million. That’s when we knew we were full bore into this.”
A million dollars is a high starting point in the Capital Region, but Corey says: “It is not so much price range. It’s a client who wants a detail-oriented home that fits our vision. We have kick-off meetings with the clients to see what they want to do. We can usually tell in the first couple hours if we are a good match. It is really to be able to do it right an interesting project that is detail-oriented. … It depends on the client, depends on the set of plans. … The plans only give half the story. So after they are done giving us their hopes and dreams for the house we do a budget baseline. … Some think they are only going to do this one more time, so let’s do it right. They sometimes become quite emotional about it. … There is no typical situation. People bring in a magazine plan or photo. Whatever the situation we have a method for each process. … It is about a 16-month process.”
Continuing on the subject Corey says: “We pride ourselves on the fact that when people hire an architect and the drawings are done we can take it the rest of the way. We do more of the creative work internally. There may be input from the architect, but we want to take charge from that point because we know when a specific material can’t be found and when keeping something within a budget is important. … We’re trying to make it so our clients don’t stress at all. We went through it for ourselves. We know you can go down a certain road and get to a dead end and waste time and money. This is where Kim comes in, she handles all of that. She works with the clients and helps them with the decision-making. I keep the business end solid with the clients and she handles the details.”
Kim says with a laugh, “Corey gets mad at me because I don’t stop. … I am all about researching a look, a material. How did they do it years ago to get that real authentic feeling? Getting it right and just nailing it so that when you go in it’s just ‘WOW.’ There’s a challenge about that.”
Corey underscores Kim’s commitment: “She is passionate about it. Our last client met with both of us when we started the project. At the beginning it was oriented toward me in terms of money and scope. I explained to him that I’ll site the house on the lot, I dig the holes, I do the concrete, I get it framed. Then Kim takes over from there. He listened, but I don’t think it registered. Then I said ‘Kim, it‘s your turn.’ Still he would call me on my cell phone. I would say ‘call Kim.’ He would every once in a while. But after about two months of working on the interior and seeing all the details that needed to be in place to make it what he wanted, he stopped calling me.”
Kim Ingerson seems to have successfully transferred what she learned in school about attention to the details of smaller products to a very large one made up of smaller ones. She says: “There is a process to it. We learned to draft it, do a concept, and build a model. We also learned about finishes. I had to be right on the top and my program was very male-oriented. There were only two women, so you had to show that you could do it.” Corey adds: “And here she is again in a male-dominated business. …”
To this point most of i2M’s customers have come via interpersonal relationships and industry referrals. The relationships with their clients remain strong because positive contact continues after a home is completed. Kim says that “If a customer calls me up after we are done and says I am having trouble with my ‘whatever” I call whoever did it and have someone come and look at it or I have one of our staff come out and adjust it.”
It goes further, says Corey: “A customer we built for called wanting to add a structure to her property. She hadn’t wanted to take our time doing it so she looked for another contractor before she called Kim. Kim designed it and in two weeks we had a permit and we were building it. It’s a matter of staying with the client.” That reputation spreads: “Two of our neighbors are a great example. Different builders built their houses before we were living and building here. Since we have been here we have been getting calls from them. We did a substantial renovation on one of their houses here this summer. They know that they can call and it is going to get done. We provide a friendly voice.”
Corey doesn’t find managing two businesses a drawback. “Actually the one helps the other. The infrastructure is there to assist with the building business. I have very good people under me.” The bridge crews begin the building process with site development and excavation and end it with final paving.
The way homes are built today relationships with vendors and subcontractors have much to do with a builder’s success. Kim works with suppliers to bring materials to their clients to review so often the clients don’t need to visit the showrooms. She cites Curtis Lumber as “very professional and great to work with. They have helped us a lot.”
When it comes to subcontractors Corey says: “We are not a big volume builder so we have to view subcontractors differently. If they jump in and do one of our homes, they lose their place with the production guys. So we narrow in on the ones who like to work for us and will jump out for us. Now, they call us all the time, asking what’s the next one? They love doing this, pulling out of our site every night saying ‘WOW.’ The trim carpenters were in this house for eight months.”
“They like the detail and those are the guys you want,” says Kim. “They just love the challenge of putting 10 pieces together and making their jigs.”
Corey adds: “What’s nice is that once you get to the detail work, Kim provides shop drawings for every area in the house, whether it is tile or trim, so there is no head scratching.“ Kim further explains: “I do CAD drawings. Every built-in is drawn up with detailed specifications. Anything to take the confusion out of it for the trades and so I won’t be disappointed when I get there. I don’t leave it to the subs to decide. I am on the site every day.”
What is on the horizon for i2M Construction?
Kim is excited about the new office they are building in Watervliet. “My working materials will no longer be in our house so I can leave them spread out and come back the next day. My kids are not going to come by and pick up the color wheel of paint I left out and think it is the coolest thing. … The office has a two-story timber frame entrance. We’re going to have a very nice conference room and we may add a working kitchen that would be representative of our homes.” Corey says: “We just figured it is time to centralize things. Our highway equipment can be there along with the house building. The same people can handle the accounting.”
The establishment of a freestanding office suggests expansion and growth for i2M. Neither Ingerson wants growth to the extent that they take on more homes than they can handle, that there is a loss of quality, or that Kim can’t personally see to the details. Still, they are excited about the14 acres along Turner Lane in Loudonville they recently bought where they will begin building “mini estates.”
What if someone is interested in having i2M build his or her home? Where would Corey and Kim suggest they start, what would they want a prospective client to know at the outset? Corey’s response is: “Call our previous clients. See their homes. I think it is best for your work to do all the talking for you.” Kim adds: I also think you are going to get more than you pay for because we go the extra mile. We are offering ‘Elegance Simplified.’”