Daniel Wells of Breakwater Builders on Safety in Building Practices

At the helm of a three-person team, Daniel Wells of Breakwater Builders believes that safe practices are at the core of construction work. He sits down with MH+D Inside Out to explain how to prevent faulty practices from developing.

Q. How have you built up a consistent client base?

A. We’re usually called to do custom carpentry for someone. Once we work with them on a job, people trust us, and they call us back.

Q. Why is it so hard for people to find a builder they trust?

A. This industry isn’t heavily regulated. People don’t need licenses to work on a house in Maine, and a lot of people have been burned because of that. I’m currently meeting with a small business association to try to develop a government-subsidized internship program with the trade schools.

Q. How could an internship program help prevent shoddy construction?

A. Through this program, I think we can bring in some of these kids that are passionate about building as a career. From the get-go, we can stop them from developing any of the bad habits, like lazy construction, and bring them into the future by training them with new building technology and best practices. We can get them certified to work on the aging infrastructure of Maine. New England has some of the oldest properties in the country, but they’re full of toxic materials. Because of the lack of licensure, many contractors are uncertified to work on those buildings. Someone without a license might tear apart window trim that has nine coats of lead paint on it without knowing how to keep people in the house safe.

Q. How do you approach complying with code enforcement?

A. I like to meet with the code enforcement officer right away. I think it’s more efficient to do it that way, because you don’t ever have to work backwards. We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we’re just trying to make this process as efficient as possible and supply the best quality product that we can.

Q. What are your favorite projects to work on?

A. I like working with people who really care about their homes. Maybe they’ve lived there for 30 years. They’re attached to it. Their kids grew up there. I get much more involved on an emotional level because of their emotional connection to it. I want to help them keep their home in the family, and we can prioritize the right projects first. When I look back on my building career, I want to know I made people happy. I think that’s what it’s all about.