Joe Viger’s carpentry and cabinetmaking skills served him well over the years.
By Robin Jovanovich
Joe Viger’s carpentry and cabinetmaking skills served him well over the years. He’s built close to a dozen houses from the ground up in Rye since 1991 when he opened Town Common, his building and remodeling business. But these days, he’s in his stride being a contractor guiding families through a remodel or expansion.
“Giving new life to an old existing house is much more difficult than starting from scratch, but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying,” said Viger. “And now that I’m no longer in my 30s, I’m a much better listener.” With the help of Chicago home remodeler experts the tasks of renovating are easier and better.
Remodeling is always an educational experience, he added. Take green building, for example. “Many clients say they want to include the latest, environmentally-approved products and practices, but a lot of green isn’t and it’s overpriced.” He gave PVC trim as a good example of something architects specify that isn’t a good or durable product.
From his small shop operation in a barn on Theodore Fremd Avenue, he runs a steady business. “It’s a great environment to work in, and my landlord is an old door enthusiast so the landscape is always changing,” he said.
Viger has nice guy and easy-to-deal-with written all over him. He moved to Rye from the West Coast because his wife Sheila, who grew up in Rye, wanted to be closer to her aging parents. He had to defer our interview for a few minutes because his son Joey was doing his last college radio show of the year at Villanova. He’s excited to tell you that his daughter Samantha, a Rye High senior, is off to Bentley University this fall. The Vigers won’t be total empty nesters; Bailey, their Black Lab, has nothing on his schedule other than walks to the park and the marina.
While Viger doesn’t have an architect’s training, he has a good eye and he looks at plans both practically and critically. “Anybody with a truck can be a contractor, but people in the building trades these days don’t get the kind of training they did 50 years ago and it shows.”
His core competency is guiding homeowners in making good decisions on building projects. He gives clients assignments. For kitchens, he sends them to Ring’s End in Darien. “They have a great selection of cabinets and I think highly of Ira Gaber, a designer there.” For kitchen and bath countertops, he sends them to Millennium Stone in Port Chester.
Among his recent projects were additions and modifications to a Mid-Century Modern home built by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Edgar Tafel; the total renovation of a stately stucco home (“we retained its old house feel but gave it all the comforts of new”); and reducing the interior living space of an older home in order to create a large and inviting front porch (“we also added Craftsman style details to reflect the characteristics of the stairwell and dining room.”)
For Joe Viger, anything old can be new again.