Beast Mode – Houzz 5 Star Review for CQC Home

We are a company that thrives on creativity, on sharing of skill sets, on being leaders when necessary and followers when the time calls for it. It’s an awesome thing to witness when a client recognizes not one or two members of the team, but when 8+ people are mentioned. What a true testament to the hard work and dedication to their careers, and to making their company the best. Yup, we can say the best! Thank you to Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake & Orange County for voting us Best Kitchen Designer, Contractor, and Business.


It is often said in our showroom “the rising tide raises all ships”or that “teamwork makes the dream work”. We are company that focuses on trust, training and education. We just happen to do a bang-up job at interior and exterior residential remodeling, as well. Thank you to all of our clients, now part of the CQC Home family for trusting us with your most valuable asset. We love what we do! Making our city great, one home at a time!

“Ken, from design to punch list, we could not be more pleased. The transformation in our home and how we live in our new space is what I envisioned. Creating an all-season sunroom that looks as if it was original to the house is truly great craftsmanship. Changes, re-considerations and recommendations were met with professionalism and responded to quickly. Communication was excellent. Kudos to George, Wesley, Matt, Mike, Justin, Kevin and Teague. Thanks also to Brad for the care to our stonework during the foundation building of the project. To a person, every friend or family member who as come through the door is momentarily at a loss for words as they take in the light and view that our new space reveals. Thank you!” — Anderson Family 2017

CQC Home Earns “Best of Durham” Award

The 7th Annual “Best of Durham” was recently announced, and we are honored to share that CQC Home won the top spot in not one but two categories – Best Kitchen Designer and Best Builder!

If you are new to the area, Durham Magazine is a great publication that highlights some great local spots that are a must-add to the bucket list. From Duke Gardens, to the Museum of Life and Science, to the many restaurants all area foodies need to experience, Durham is quickly becoming one of the top 10 towns in the country to live in.

And every year, Durham Magazine sends a ballot to its readers to vote for their “best of” in several categories. These include everything from gyms and flower shops, to law offices and coffee house – and, of course, contractors.

A saying often heard around our Kitchen & Bath Showroom is “the rising tide raises all ships”. We feel the CQC team is that tide – a strong force of trust, teamwork and integrity, who happen to remodel homes.

Thank you to all of the readers and online voters who nominated and voted for us to win the “Best of Durham”. And a very special thank you to our entire CQC Home team.

Why Install a Nest Learning Thermostat

There’s an app for any and everything, nowadays. And the Nest Learning Thermostat is definitely a leader of the pack. Here are some of the futuristic features this innovative thermostat puts at your fingertips.

cqchome-durham-4737Energy Tracker

This thermostat is the definition of app savvy! Simply download the Nest app to see how much energy you use and why. Out and about on a blistering hot day or super chilly night? Change your home temperature from the car on your way back home. How cool is that?


The Nest Learning Thermostat is always aware. It even senses when you enter the room and instantly lights up to inform you of the time, room temperature and even the weather.

Auto Schedule

It also learns what temperature you like in your room — or rooms! Within a week’s time, it programs itself to be at your ideal temp comfort level.


Connect your thermostat to Wi-Fi and have the luxury of controlling the temperature at your fingertips — from your phone, laptop or tablet.

Home/Away Assistance

Always helping to conserve energy, a leaf icon appears when you’ve chosen a temperature that saves energy.

Have us install one of these ground breaking thermostats in one or all of your rooms. Beware of showcasing one of them in the kid’s rooms, though. They may be all to happy to continuously test out the new “toy”.

Summer is Here: How to Stay Cool and Safe

Here in North Carolina, we’re already experiencing hot, humid days where the thermometer reads above 90 degrees. It’s only going to get hotter as the summer wears on, so we asked CQC Home’s Safety Manager, Justin Walker, for some tips on how he helps CQC staff keep their cool.

He told us it’s important not only to take care of ourselves, but to recognize the signs of heat overexposure in others, especially children or senior citizens.

Justin stressed that it’s very important to be aware of the temperature. Temperatures in the 90s and higher are dangerous, especially the higher they go and the longer they last. The very young and the very old are at the highest risk.

Justin’s Tips for Staying Cool This Summer

  • Pay attention to the temperature and modify your activities as needed.
  • Have you had enough water? Pay attention to hydration: If you feel thirsty, you might already be mildly dehydrated.
  • Take breaks in relatively cool areas, even when you’re outside.
  • Try to limit the amount of time you spend in enclosed places, such as cars. Never leave children unattended in a parked car.
  • Choose your clothes for the weather. You’re better off in loose, light (weight and color) clothing.
  • Cool your house by covering sunny windows with drapes or shades and checking weather stripping and insulation.

 Signs of Heat Overexposure

  • Excessive sweating (though during heat stroke the body stops sweating).
  • Pale skin.
  • Muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, nausea or vomiting.
  • Feeling confused or disoriented, passing out.

6 First Steps to Take After Recognizing Heat Exposure

  • Call 911.
  • Move the person into a cool area, ideally an air-conditioned space but even the shade will help.
  • Use water to try and cool the person down.
  • Put ice or ice packs on his or her neck or armpits.
  • Make sure he or she is not wearing any heavy clothing and remove it if so.
  • If possible, immerse the person in cool water, such as a swimming pool or tub.

In The News: CQC Aging in Place


From Durham Magazine, April 2016

(click to enlarge photo)

Our very own Caroline Redding Crenshaw is a fabulous designer and colleague, but did you know she’s a certified expert in Aging in Place? If you’re like us, you’ve been hearing a lot about Aging in Place (AIP). The definition we like to use at CQC is: a person living in the residence of his/her choice, for as long as he or she is able, as they age. This includes the ability to have needed services or support in the home over time.

 The AARP points out that a majority of seniors wish to stay in their homes as they age. As the Triangle has become a popular retirement destination, more and more families will have the same wish.

Caroline and three other CQC staff members are all CAPS-certified (Certified Aging in Place)  and Universal Design specialists who can advise you at any phase of life. Wouldn’t it be smart, when planning a home renovation, to talk to us about how to accommodate Aging in Place features down the road?

Caroline recently shared with Durham Magazine her thoughts about how to plan without having to compromise on aesthetics. As you can see from the photo, the beautiful CQC kitchen pictured doesn’t look like the drab image some of us think of when we hear “accessible.”

Congratulations to Caroline on her Durham Magazine debut. If you’re interested in talking about anything related to Aging in Place or Universal Design, contact us today.

What are the Six C’s of Our Business?

By Kenneth Combs, Founding Partner

Kenneth Combs - CQC

Those of you who have seen our signs in front of homes around town are probably familiar with our CQC logo. When I started this company eight years ago, I had a vision, and the three letters in our name—including the two C’s—helped me put plans into action to realize that vision. Custom Quality Carpentry has always been about high-quality renovation projects tailored to the custom needs of each client.

As we’ve grown, I’ve come to realize those two C’s in our name could really be expanded on to represent how we’ve matured and how our vision has evolved. I’ve been encouraging my team to think about the six C’s that stand for the values behind our vision.

I’d like to share those values with you now. They are:

To act with COURAGE

To foster open COMMUNICATION

To CREATE & innovate

To improve and enhance our COMMUNITY


To COMMIT to quality and excellence

The six C’s are our pledge to our clients, the greater Durham community, and to each other. With this post, I’m kicking off a series from myself and our leadership team to highlight how we translate these values into results.

All of us at CQC Home feel honored to be part of a business that’s growing and changing while it remains true to our roots. Nothing makes us happier than solving clients’ problems and working with them to realize their personal vision for the places they call home.

Stay tuned for more on the six C’s. I’ll share my thoughts about acting with courage next.

How design-build saves time and money

An Interview with CQC Home’s CEO Kenneth Combs


What is the biggest benefit of using a design-build company vs. finding your own architects and contractors?

The design-build process saves time, money, and reduces much of the stress associated with residential remodeling. When you work with a design-build company, you’re able to design your project to fit a specific budget. Our team thinks creatively — we collaborate with you to choose materials that exceed expectations and meet costs.

The alternative? You pay for a design from an architect without knowing what the actual cost will be to build it. Then you have to bid the design out to multiple contractors, with the possibility of finding out that what you’ve designed is too expensive. This process is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort. It’s devastating to discover a design you love far exceeds your budget.

One of our clients had worked with an architect for almost a year to create a beautiful home remodel design, and her family absolutely fell in love with it. Their budget was $275,000. Her architect designed what she asked for, but he wasn’t a builder, and didn’t have experience pricing construction projects. 11 months later, as the customer was bidding this project to contractors, she learned the cost was over $600,000.

They were back at square one, heartbroken, and feeling like they had wasted so much time and energy. Had they worked with a design-build company like CQC from the outset, they would have collaborated on a project they loved that was also within their budget.

Is CQC the only company that offers design-build with the majority of the staff being full-time employees?

I wouldn’t say we’re the only company, but we are the only company in Durham and the greater Triangle area. It’s very expensive to have employees instead of subcontractors, but we see the value of having everything in-house: from the design, to the project management, to the construction. By doing this, we offer the same level of care and commitment to our clients as we do to our employees.

In our model, there’s more collaboration between the designer and the person who’s actually assembling what is designed. One of the biggest benefits to design-build is how much time you save, and time equals money. When you hire a company who relies on a tightly knit team of full-time employees for the majority of the work, you save a lot of time. You don’t have to coordinate or wait for various subcontractors to show up on their own schedule.

By choosing CQC, you’re also getting a higher quality customer experience. Our in-house staff is directly involved with your project from the start. We communicate a clear understanding of the expectations, the process, and what the final product will look and feel like. The alternative (and more common) model relies on subcontractors who come in as needed, so they may not be very familiar with your family or the project. Are they motivated to do excellent work for you? Or are they motivated to do the work as fast as possible in order to get paid? If they’re not responsible for the final product, they may not feel the responsibility to do excellent work.

We offer a warranty for our work and teach our entire staff to treat clients and their homes with respect. This respect matches our commitment to deliver renovations of the highest quality in the least amount of time.

(Learn more about Kenneth Combs here)

Kitchen Design Problems & Creative Remodeling Solutions

With full to the brim lives, it’s easy to grow accustomed to our homes. We have work, kid activities, endless chores, and somehow manage to fit in time with family and friends. We learn to love the homes we have and the way we use our homes becomes routine. It’s not easy to look at the space you’ve been living in with new eyes that can see the potential for an amazing renovation. We hear this from our remodeling clients so often. That’s why our remodeling consultation process hinges on collaborating and interviewing you to see what isn’t working and how we can improve your home together.

To help inspire you to look at your space and see the possibilities, we’re sharing a few of our problem solving renovations. The before and after photos are dramatic, but the biggest change is with the homeowners, who are now THRILLED with their spaces.

There are many milestones in our lives that can benefit from viewing our homes with an improvement eye. From the birth of children or grandchildren, to caring for our parents as they age, to that moment when we suddenly find ourselves with an empty nest; changing our homes to fit our changing lives improves your home’s value and makes it more enjoyable. 


This family had decided to remove their wood stove because they didn’t use it anymore. With the wood stove and wall gone, they could transform their traditional house into a more open layout. With their grandbabies traipsing around, the open-concept was enticing!


Opening the doorway to the kitchen from the dining room and from the formal living room to the dining room actually helped tie everything into the kitchen. With unique details like a wine bar, wood hood, and under cabinet lighting, they now have a dream kitchen to accommodate their growing family and a wonderful space to entertain their friends.




This client wanted to open her kitchen up to her family room without the obstruction of her kitchen table between them. Her dining room felt closed off and during gatherings the small doorway to the kitchen was constantly congested. 


She wanted a bright open area with lots of counter space. We replaced an exterior door with a large sliding patio door adding lots of light. We took into account her sweet dog and had the blinds installed within the glass so the dog can peep out the window to her heart’s content and not break the blinds. 


We moved appliances and expanded the doorway between the kitchen and dining room to completely open the flow. This mom loves to entertain and cook for friends and family. So a giant island with seating keeps guests close and adds prep area. 


This family has two small boys and their kitchen felt separate from the living areas. Their ideal space would allow them to cook and still be able to interact with the boys as they played in the living room. The home already had a bright breakfast room and formal dining. The owners were concerned that taking the wall down would reduce their storage but we were able to remove the wall and still give them ample storage including a pantry.


Moving the fridge to the wall next to the pantry allowed more cabinetry to be installed with the sink. Glass front cabinets add beauty and lend to making the room feel open. 


The cooktop is now in the island with a downdraft and so mom can watch the boys play as she cooks. We also added a wine cooler to the island, seating is there for the boys, and some hidden bonus storage.



Our kitchen designer, Kelly Bidwell-Bukowski, is a master of problem solving kitchens. She can take into account your space and blend your new space seamlessly with your wants and needs. These dramatic makeovers have created happy clients that can enjoy their homes more.

We hope this has jump started your mind into thinking about what’s possible with your space. Are you ready to make your home into your dream home? Do you have a design question for Kelly? Email her

Justin Walker OSHA authorized trainer and our Safety Officer

Meet our Team: Justin Walker Safety Coordinator

Our goal at CQC Home is to break the mold of standard remodeling companies. We are constantly looking for ways to be the best company to work for.

We encourage our employees to come to us with concerns and ideas. And we’re thrilled that Justin Walker saw a need and stepped up to fill it.

Justin Walker is a visionary problem-solver.  He is unique in his ability to identify common issues & behaviors that need addressing, but creating change and buy-in through confident, kind, and firm persuasion.

He is young, but he has a wisdom that manifests as intuitive pacing, using humor and enlisting reinforcement without ego. He can envision how to keep our staff of almost 30 full-time workers and clients safe and create the policies and processes to operate a high-end, very busy remodeling company.

Justin was still a very new employee at CQC Home when he approached leadership about the need for a more robust safety program.

He proposed that he would research the next steps to become the CQC safety officer, but that also he would be glad to go through an additional week of training to become a trainer – not just for CQC Home, but as a community service and a revenue generator with the HBA, Community Colleges and with both industry partners & affiliates.

He quickly became authorized in the OSHA Outreach Program as a trainer for 10 and 30 hour courses.

It was a very involved task to sift through OSHA’s robust materials and create a program specifically for residential remodeling.

CQC Home company "safety" colors

He has a goal for 2016– well underway as of 1/2016– for every single production staff member at CQC Home to carry a 10 hour OSHA certificate. He visits job sites and makes sure that everyone is working safely. This has increased our efficiency, productivity and the confidence of our staff. He expressed awareness that he may not be the most popular staff for awhile, but because he is already so well-liked and respected he has very little pushback.  Leadership is thrilled!

In 2015, we went from 15 employees to 30. This growth was a wonderful reflection of CQC’s success, but to grow smart we focused on fine-tuning our business practices.  Creating more targeted leadership positions with natural leaders like Justin was a no-brainer. What took leadership by surprise was how entrepreneurial and mature Justin’s vision was. He has a natural ability to simultaneously problem solve for immediate needs while crafting long-term goals and best practices & policies for our imminent growth.

Kenneth Combs Installed as Presidential Appointee for 2016


Kenneth Combs Installed to HBADOC Board of Directors as Presidential Appointee for 2016

December 3, 2015:

The Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange & Chatham Counties (HBADOC) held their Holiday Party and Installation Banquet December 3rd at The Cotton Room in Durham, North Carolina. A new slate of Executive Officers and Board Members were elected, including new HBA Board Member Kenneth Combs, with CQC Home.

The Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange & Chatham Counties exists to serve its members and to ensure that the industry meets the needs and expectations of the community for quality construction, environmental stewardship, and leadership in charitable and service causes. With over 600 members who perform over 80% of the residential construction in three counties, the HBADOC is undeniably a key play in the Triangle Region’s future economic and community development.

2016 Goals include an inaugural Remodelers Tour showcasing the fine remodeling work crafted by our members and open to the public.

The HBADOC is also making efforts to address the critical need to encourage and promote careers in the construction industry by developing a strategic plan called Building Our Future. This initiative includes laying the groundwork for a new training facility that will deliver technical training for the home building industry.

If you would like to join the HBADOC or seek more information about the HBADOC please visit or to contribute to the efforts of the Building Our Future campaign please contact Holly Faccaro at .