Q+A with Duncan Cook, The Finley Group – Custom Home Building & Renovations
Walking the neighbourhood approximately 10 years ago we saw this modern black cladded home being built just around the corner from our house. We were curious to see inside as we love modern design and asked one of the contractors (Duncan!) if we could look, he obliged. Fast forward to 2017, we live in a different house, our kids end up at the same school and we realize we have the same circle of neighbourhood friends. Its funny how small the world really is.
Over the years, we have seen his various projects from full gut jobs to finishing basements and large extensions on homes in various styles from traditional to modern design and we’ve personally used him and his team for our own projects. His team provides top notch workmanship, clear and concise project expectations, and timelines.
Q. Hi Duncan, you grew up in the east end but have resided in Mimico for a long time. Why did you move to this neighbourhood and what do you love about it?
A. Initially price, and the fact that it was a real family neighbourhood and actually a great location. Close to the lake, and the city and I could afford a detached home. I grew up in Riverdale, and had lived in Roncesvalles for a few years, those were both too expensive but I like living in a real neighbourhood.
Q. Is there anything you would like to see improved in the area?
A. Mimico has grown and changed a great deal since we moved in, there have been many improvements, some places we miss and a new assortment of really great r. restaurants and local stores. I would love to see even more, I like being able to get a beer with some friends locally, or hit up a local eatery with the family.
Q. We have seen your projects in person, and everyone loves your work but don’t see any advertisements or signs. Do all your projects come from referrals?
A. I do referral and word of mouth only. I feel that because I am being referred there is already a level of trust and they have already seen my work, so they have an idea of what to expect. I’m really busy so it’s been working for me so far.
Q. You are a young guy with a ton of knowledge and connections. How did you get started doing custom renovations and building homes?
A. I worked part time in construction throughout high school. My oldest sister’s boyfriend was a builder and general contractor and he was tough to work for, but a good teacher. I also built dragon boats to pay for university. I tried an office job early on and liked the social part but hated the 9-5, I like a little more flexibility.
Q. What has been your favourite project you have done to date?
A. I have had opportunity to so some great projects. But maybe doing my own house was one of my favourites. A had a little more freedom to test out new things, and was the first time I did it for myself.
Q. How many people are on your team?
A. I have one 2 full time guys and then a great set of trades that I use. They make me look good.
Q. How are you managing the business during COVID-19? Has your work stopped, delayed or even cancelled because of the epidemic?
A. It’s been more difficult. I had a several permitted jobs already started before Covid so I am lucky to be able to keep working in those. Just slower and a lot more logistical planning. To keep guy working while maintaining a safe working practice. Less guys on site. Materials are more difficult to get. Some suppliers are not open, so you have to be
a little more creative. A bunch of jobs are waiting for permits which are on hold. And then here is some emergency type work Leaky roof and stuff like that. Feel lucky to be able to still be working, but my team is staying safe doing it.
Q. How is your work life balance now that you must manage the kids and work?
A. Pretty good. I take more time now with kids, and I’m really enjoying it. I feel less rushed. It’s been harder for my wife she has to work full time from home, and has the 2 kids at home. I stay home one day a week, with the kids so Vanessa can work more easily. I also make an effort to come home earlier to give her a break. It’s an adjustment but we are making it work.
Q. Any big projects on the horizon you are excited about and can share?
A. I have a fairly large Reno in Roncesvalles waiting for permits. It’s a couple’s first house and they are expecting their first child. So they are excited and have some cool ideas. So that one will be fun. It’s great to take an older home and keep looking fairly traditional in the front but inside and at the back a little more modern. I love a modern spaces and really can’t wait to get started.
Send us an email for Duncan’s contact info.