“We got to Polly Bart (Greenbuilders) through a recommendation we received to a question we posted on our local community listserv. We were looking for someone to evaluate our 100 year old house assuming we needed a attic fan to keep the house cooler in the summer.
Rather than just deliver what we asked for, Polly listened to our issues, climbed up in the attic, and discovered a completely different solution. That the solution was about 25% the cost of what previous contractors told us was necessary is quite good. That her solution worked more effectively that we expected — is extraordinary. ”
J. Fackler, Roof Project
“We have a 100 year old house with a 100 year old slate roof. Does seem like a long time for a roof to last and we’d been told by two contractors that a complete replacement was necessary. A number of secondary issues came up and through a circuitous route we met Polly Bart of Greenbuilders.
Long story, short — Polly routinely works with an excellent slate roof person who disagreed and did a masterful repair — not a replace. It’s about as “green” as it gets — use something for its full useful life before replacing it. She and the roofer believe we’ve got another 25 years left in what’s up there. ”
Houzz Review, client @mkanof
“Why do I highly recommend Polly and Greenbuilders? They saved EVERYTHING and reused or donated almost every scrap of what was in my original kitchen. They opened up my cold wall and sealed and insulated all of it, as well as the new window, to make my kitchen cozy and bright. Polly introduced me to wonderful materials. I designed my own countertop out of Durat, an eco-friendly material which is pretty, durable, easy to work with, and was affordable because Durat was happy with my ideas for design and made us a special offer. Polly’s crew made me matching knobs of the same pretty blue. They worked with me for convenience and dust control during the project—including an ingenious cat barrier that gave me access to my refrigerator, but kept kitties out. They love my cats and made sure they did not escape—a major requirement of mine. Their cabinetmaker came up with a custom shelving design which opens up the entrance to the room and gives you the storage space I most needed. My dream kitchen became a reality!”
S. Nestler, small kitchen, Ruxton
“My wife and I are happy to offer this enthusiastic review for Polly Bart of Greenbuilders. This year, we enlisted her help to make some necessary changes to our home. We wanted a low impact outdoor space for our family to spend time together as well as a minor re-organization of our existing laundry and mudroom area. Additionally, the exterior of our home was in need of maintenance and updating due to rotting wooden trim and melted and discolored vinyl siding. We wanted to do all of this in as sustainable a way as possible – especially given that staying in our current home was a conscious environmental decision.
We started with an architect, which turned out to be a bad experience. The project quickly spun out of our control with the end result being a proposal that was more than three times our stated budget. We were a bit sensitive after this experience and it turned out that Polly’s attentiveness and sensitivity to our situation made all the difference. We decided to go with a design and build contractor approach, through Greenbuilders, done by Polly and when necessary, enlisting the help of Julie Gabrielli of Gabrielli Design Studios. Having now gone with the design-build approach, my wife and I felt more in touch with ‘the process,’ getting more of what we wanted in our project and less of what we didn’t. Additionally, it was much easier to communicate and stay within our budget range with this approach. The project finished on budget as set at the beginning in our contract and allowed for changes to the plan as needed without adding cost.
Polly was a pleasure to work with and her subcontractors were polite and professional. The work was all quite good and we are extremely pleased with the final product! The exterior resurfacing and added details revived our home! The screened porch is perfect. The mudroom and laundry room has done wonders to help to organize our family/home. All of the materials were chosen for their sustainability OR so durable that they will not likely need to be replaced. Can’t wait to get out on to the screened in porch and enjoy the wildlife this spring.”
John and Suzanne, Whole House Remodel, Ruxton Maryland
“Hiring Polly Bart to renovate/remodel my master bath was one of the best decisions I have made. Polly is detail-oriented, hard working and full of integrity.
I own a 100 year old tudor in Baltimore. Its a great house which has mostly been renovated, but the master bath was awful. It was small, dark and dreary. I felt like even after I cleaned it, it never felt clean.
Polly and I spent some time designing and iteratively improving the concept. 2 surrounding closets were absorbed in to the bathroom, toilets were moved and the layout required much thought. Polly did not rush this and she worked through my needs until I felt like we had all of my visions included.
Polly’s crew was respectful and clean. While any renovation is disruptive, I felt like they really respected my home and my space.
The final product is wonderful. This went from the worst room in my house to a place I love to recharge in with my morning shower in a great walk-in shower. The heated floors work divinely. The vanity and pocket door which her master wood worker built are perfect. The soapstone was the right finishing touch.
I got the bathroom I wanted and the some!”
L. Rubinson, master bath, Roland Park
“As a subcontractor for Greenbuilders, I’ve had the chance to observe the company closely. Polly’s level and commitment to customer service and satisfaction is unheard of in the construction industry. She goes to extraordinary lengths to minimize the disruptions to the family, keeping the work site clean, and not impacting existing structures, plants, walls, floors, surfaces, etc. Dust and debris are well-managed and kept to an absolute minimum. Instead of a stressful, emotionally draining experience, the construction period is often a fun, peak-experience for the clients – very unique!
Polly is a pleasure to work with – honest, forthright and fair, her dedication to green technologies stems from a genuine lifestyle and overall green philosophy, and her passion is quite contagious! I’m looking forward to my next Greenbuilders assignment, although they are always challenging, they are also very rewarding, it’s great to contribute to a project where quality, service, and integrity are so highly valued.”
“There is a reason that Greenbuilders was voted Best in Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine. Polly Bart, the owner has a unique set of skills: PhD urban planner, trained architect, general contractor and LEED certified expert in green building products and techniques. We worked with Polly and her team for over a year completely gut renovating our 50’s home. We started off with a traditional home with very old systems. One of the important aspects we wanted to maintain was the original hydronic based radiant heat system. Polly was not only able to save the system with her very careful deconstruction techniques, but she went out of her way to fine tune and actually improve the system. She managed to remove asbestos throughout the home, tear out every wall and every window in the house and build us the home of our dreams, literally from the ground up. The attention to detail and quality of work is unsurpassed. Her dedication to and knowledge of green building is unparalleled. If you want a beautiful, eco conscientious home, Greenbuilders is the best in Maryland. As a bonus, Polly’s worksite was always tidy and unobtrusive. Despite the huge amount of work, we didn’t have one single complaint from the neighbors. Polly is very thoughtful and she truly wants her clients to have a positive experience. She is not your typical contractor in the best of ways.”
“Polly Bart at Greenbuilders, Inc. has worked with us over the past few months on a design/build project to renovate our 1880s farmhouse. We are currently in the design phase. Green renovations require creativity, expertise and dedication to find the right mix for the particular home and home owners. Polly has worked on or ahead of schedule to get us the information we need to plan our project, finding experts to help us when needed and talking with county officials to make sure we are following appropriate regulations. She also has worked closely with our architect, managing the process and keeping us on schedule to build according to our desired timeline.
I especially appreciate Polly’s ability to organize the design process in a way that emphasizes our priorities and makes it easier for us to make our decisions. For example, when we were having difficulty deciding traffic patterns and whether the rooms were appropriately-sized, Polly suggested we map the project out with tape in our yard so we could walk around the space and live in it for a while.
Polly talks about the budget early and often. So far in the process it appears that Polly has budgeted generously so that we are able to do some of the extras without bumping up against our budget limit, and we appreciate the ability to make the project special within our means. She also has provided many terrific suggestions to lower the cost of the project (or future heating/cooling costs) while building in a sustainable way. We truly believe the time we have spent planning the project with Polly and our architect will make our home more energy-efficient, more sustainably built, and more comfortable to live in.
We hired Polly because of her expertise in green renovations, her project management skills and her access to high-quality contractors, but she sold us when she said that this project should be a fun experience for our family–and so far it has been! At this point in the process, I can highly recommend Greenbuilders, Inc. to anyone looking for a conscientious, thorough contractor in the greater Baltimore area.”
“From the very beginning, Polly was always professional about the technical aspects, but she was also good at predicting and managing elements of the remodel that might be stressful for us. She was never pushy, was open and up front about budgets and options, frank about timelines and how she planned, and a good communicator. She went above and beyond when we were arranging delivery for the cabinets, following up with intractable delivery companies, and her subs were fantastic craftspeople and nice folks to boot! Work was completed ahead of schedule and to extremely high quality standards, with minimal disruption while we were out of the kitchen, as Polly helped set us up in another room of the house. We were pleased with her green recommendations and found a great regional soapstone that looks beautiful in the kitchen and is wearing well. Our daughter still asks when Polly is coming back, and we LOVE our kitchen.”
“The first time I called Polly Bart of Greenbuilders, back in 2007, I was in severe distress: though my stone house was beautiful and charming, I hated it. Polly, in her soothing voice, agreed to an undefined appointment with me to see if we could figure out how the house and I might get along better.
Polly arrived for the meeting with boxes of environmentally friendly and tempting materials for floors, counter tops, etc. We toured the house, walking from room to room, discussing what I found so irksome. My young son followed along, welcomed by Polly. From this, we developed a master plan of sorts, but decided to break it up into a series of smaller projects for purposes of cost and sanity. Unlike many contractors who want the immediate big hit, Polly was unbothered that work for me would be a trickle here and there.
Just before we were set to begin the first project, a transformation of a 3rd floor room into my private, very personal den, and a upgrade of the 3rd floor bathroom, a minor disaster developed in the basement. As I howled to Polly about this on the phone, she wisely said, “Before we begin this project, you need to forgive your house.”
Some months later, my black heart softened and Polly began her work. She listened closely and patiently to my input, and managed her subcontractors firmly but respectfully. I felt like we were all in this together; and what resulted were wonderfully crafted, unique spaces on my 3rd floor that continue to offer me respite and joy. I should note that we used some really neat materials such as clay paint, marmoleum, and crackling paint.
Over the next five years, Polly implemented the master plan, helping my home retain its traditional look but giving nearly every room, and parts of the outside, an uncommon, “green” upgrade. Polly’s touch extends to each floor of my home, and also stretches to the outdoors to include rain barrels and various other landscaping features; our cobblestone parking pad is a highlight admired regularly by neighbors.
There are some particular facts to note about Polly:
1. Every contractor potentially faces problems during projects and how one deals with this is telling. Polly owns up to issues and teases out a solution.
2. Polly is candid about the cost and, unlike some contractors, is not overly anxious to rip out old but perfectly functioning sinks, etc., but will build a design around them.
3. Polly does not orphan her subcontractors.
4. Polly hires someone to come in and clean up at the end of a project so that the only trace left behind is the beautiful work, not muddy boot prints.
5. If Polly is in the midst of re-doing your kitchen over Thanksgiving, she will invite you into her own home to celebrate our national holiday.
6. Polly will search high and low to understand and satisfy your design yearnings, no matter how peculiar they may be. “
“Polly Bart is a true ‘Green Builder’. She is engaged in sustainable construction because she believes in it. A builder, educator and admirer of nature Polly brings a wealth of information to the table, not just related to construction but about the natural world and the context in which we engage it. She works a wonderful balance between the often disparate goals of cost, time and quality. It is a pleasure to work with Polly and have her share her enthusiasm for sustainable building.”
Joe Archibald, architect and owner, Revolution Design Works LLC
We could not have been happier with both the process and the results of our work with Polly Bart and Greenbuilders in building a small addition onto our Mount Washington home. She carefully walked us through the entire process in advance, warning us about the inevitable difficulties of temporarily turning our home into a construction zone (although, truth be told, she and her workers were extremely careful to minimize the intrusions into our life).
Polly offered us several alternatives at every step, depending on our preferences for cost, design and environmental impact, and helped us reuse various elements from a smaller room that we tore down for the new project. She always finds a way to do the job less expensively and with less impact on your home and the environment – though she doesn’t push that on you. Her quality is excellent, she holds her subs to the highest standards, and she holds your hand from start to finish.
The end result was an affordable, carefully constructed bedroom/sitting room (with full bath) that no one can distinguish from the original house. The design award that we won from the Mt. Washington Improvement Association was a welcome recognition of the quality of the project. We would most definitely work with Greenbuilders again, and would strongly recommend Polly to our neighbors and friends.
David and Amanda Conn
Polly Bart, owner of GreenBuilders, built a gorgeous addition to our kitchen, complete with the installation of a green roof. She has rescued us several times since. She is practical and has complete integrity, knows how to work as a team with architect and client. Completely honest, trustworthy and skilled.
Working with Polly has been a learning experience in the best possible way, and a joy. Her collaboration with the architect started at the planning stages of the project, and she always helped in a creative way to keep all of us earthbound and on target financially. She kept us informed and involved every step of the way, even having us participate in the stacking of the bales for our beautiful straw bale wall! Her working crew was superb, her manner always straightforward and fair. Most importantly, our eco-friendly addition makes us delighted and proud daily. We can’t wait to start another project with her.
Violaine Melancon and Seth Knopp
Polly Bart with Greenbuilders has now completed a series of projects at my home. She does both interior and exterior work – and with a creativity that simply tickles me. While Polly always has an eye toward “green”, she’s not an eco-bully by any means. Specifically, she resolved an outdoor drainage issue for me by using a combination of rainbarrels, drain pipes, and water-absorbing stones. The end result is attractive as well as practical. Inside, Polly re-did a bathroom for us, converting a bathtub into a European style shower. Walls were painted with clay paint, and the floors covered in an eco-friendly material. We also made a room on our third floor into an extremely comfortable place for me to relax.
One of the best things about Polly is that she is very good about helping home-owners decide what can stay or be re-used so that we’re not needlessly replacing items. Furthermore, the subcontractors she employs are friendly, clean, reliable, knowledgeable, and problem-solvers.
Merritt Pridgeon and Phil Closius
Polly Bart, owner of Greenbuilders, was the contractor for the “green” addition/renovation we did with architect Julie Gabrielli. She was easy to work with, and is honest to the core. She is dedicated to sustainability, but also quite pragmatic about it. She ended up helping a lot with design decisions we were stuck on, and solved some tricky structural problems we encountered. We feel confident that any wall Polly opened up will be still be standing long after we’re gone, even if the rest of the place isn’t! We enjoyed working with her. Her communication with us was top-notch, which helped enormously.
Audrey Guzik and Donald Mathis