Home Renovation Warriors – Tenszen, Dueck & McFaddin Rock Stars in the Reno World

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There are plenty of nightmare renovation stories out there.

This isn’t going to be one of them.

In 2013, I retired from the Winnipeg Police Service and started a new chapter in my life.  While I saw it as an opportunity to explore other pursuits, my wife saw it as an opportunity to put me to work on a gut reno of the main floor of our home.

For the last fourteen (14) years we’d been living in a nondescript 1,050 square foot bungalow situated on an impressive half-acre lot complete with lush gardens and mighty oak trees.  The house was but a little box with very little aesthetic appeal.  With three (3) children, money was always short and space limitations was an issue we just had to learn to live with.  The renovation issue was a sore spot in our marriage and was a constant source of conflict.

In the preceding years we’d done a minor bathroom reno and a larger deck and sunroom project which turned out to be a nightmare.  The contractor was recommended by a friend but turned out to be a shit rat scammer using an alias.  In a mere couple of weeks our once happy life was turned completely upside down, but that was then and this is now.

Twenty-thirteen (2013) was going to be our year to bite the bullet and get back into the world of renovations.

It was with some trepidation I agreed to go with a young upstart contractor who was recommended by my wife’s hairstylist.  His name was Carter Tenszen, a twenty-eight (28) year old carpenter with a reputation for quality workmanship and an old school work ethic.

When I met Carter my concerns were laid to rest.  He presented himself as an intelligent, decent young man with a strong moral code and a high degree of integrity.  From my wife’s perspective, it didn’t hurt that he was ridiculously handsome.  Once we had our quotes the choice was clear, Carter’s quote, while not the cheapest, was the most thorough and detailed.  Ultimately, it wasn’t the quote that sold us, it was our assessment of Carter’s character that made the difference.

When the job started were happy to see Carter was everything he’d been advertised to be, a hard-working, punctual professional who paid extraordinary attention to detail.  His easy-going nature, willingness to please and the creative input he brought to the project were unanticipated bonuses.

The Demolition

The reno started with a major gut job.  We knocked down walls, demolished old kitchen cabinets, pulled up old hardwoods, carpeting and obliterated pony walls and redundant bulkheads.

We went with an Ikea kitchen, quartz counter tops from River City Stone and 5″ engineered hand scraped oak hardwoods from Flat Landers flooring.

Carter worked with several high calibre tradesmen.  Tradesmen like his brother-in-law, Ryan Dueck (29), who would be the number #2 man on our renovation.  Ryan operates his own construction company called Arrowwood Custom Builders but often teams up with Carter to help him tackle bigger projects.

When it came time for some of key finishing touches, Carter partnered with a young artisan named Josh McFaddin, owner and operator of a small business called Haven Kitchen & Design.

Josh is a highly skilled, creative man who possesses a great deal of passion for his trade.  His creative input made a huge difference to our final project.  Input like the suggestion to use Alder wood to create a beautiful center beam as a focal point in our main floor plan.  The results were stunning.

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The Finished Product

We loved the alder-wood beam so much we asked Josh build two alder wood barn doors to be installed on our pantry and in the door way between our master bedroom and the main floor bathroom.

We spent a significant amount time and energy doing research on the internet in our search for hardware to hang the doors.  Were  were somewhat troubled with the prohibitive costs as we found prices ranged from $450 to north of $1,000.

We found the perfect solution at Rona where we purchased galvanized steel tracks and hardware sets for around $100.  We spray painted the pantry track and hardware set flat black and loved the rustic finish.  Heavy duty door handles from Lee Valley tools were perfectly paired with these amazing pieces of artwork.  We kept the natural finish on the track and hardware in the main bathroom to compliment the lighter decor.

Alder-wood Barn Doors

From start to finish the project was completed with great precision and coordination.  The trades were coordinated perfectly and as a result the project was completed on schedule.

The result was nothing short of astonishing.  A brand new home full of warmth, character and beautiful natural wood elements.

When it came time to settle the final account there were no surprises or concerns.  In fact, Carter was extraordinarily reasonable considering the almost endless list of extras we burdened him with during the course of the project.

In fact, we appreciated their work so much we hired the dynamic duo to tackle a major deck project involving structural work and a major face lift.  This time Ryan played the role of project manager while Carter supplied the muscle.  Ryan’s work ethic, creative input and attention to detail was equally impressive and appreciated.

After twenty-six (26) years working in Law Enforcement I have to admit my faith in the twenty something generation had suffered extensive damage.  After collaring hundreds of twenty something drug traffickers, thugs and gangsters over the last three decades it was refreshing to meet creative, industrious, decent, hard-working young men.

Young men who have completely restored my faith in their generation.

And for that I am truly grateful.


Arrowwood Custom Builders

Haven Kitchen & Design Facebook Page 

Haven Kitchens Web Site Under Construction


Follow Josh McFaddin on instagram at havendesign.

Carten Tenszen can be contacted via email at

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  1. Great blog man, i dont read blogs any more but this is really usefull.

  2. James G Jewell

    Great story.

    That was one of the reasons I wrote the story.

    To often we hear about the scammers and fraudulent scum bags that victimize our citizens, and often times, our seniors.

    I felt it was time to put a good news story out there and support these hard working good young men.

    I hope the article translates to a few jobs and many happy customers.

    Thank you for commenting.

  3. Hi James..great topic and wonderful team worthy of acknowledgement. Word of mouth is free advertising. I noticed Josh’s Tatoo and thought of John Lennon. “Let it Be!” “Whoever be unjust let him be unjust. Whoever is righteous Let him be righteous. Whoever is FILTHY…” Things considered newsworthy too often are of the “shock and awe”, giving all the attention to those who leave our world tinged with wonder of what went wrong, instead of tinged with wonder at the magnificent personality and ideas of so many of our people.

    I taught in Toronto from 1970 to 2005,with more than 4,000 students. Toronto’s Grade 6 in Toronto was the year of police teaching “Values Influences and Peers and the Young Offender’s Act” in our classrooms. It culminated each year in spending a day in courthouse, circulating from case to case, witnessing lawyers and police teamwork. In the 1970’s, our East York neighbourhood of seniors were “invaded” by a crew of renovators. I was teaching in Trenton, and came home to a double brick house covered in yellow metal siding. They targeted seniors with extremely overpriced and unnecessary jobs. We reported them, identified them from mug shot albums. This construction team hit the Toronto Star front page doing the same in Hamilton. Arrested, he appeared in court in wheelchair for sympathy.

    My father’s home had no mortgage. Unknown to me, when my dad died fifteen years later, the estate lawyer announced there was a lien. The name was that company. Miraculously, my lawyer, Manning Robuck, a brilliant 82 year old lawyer I will never forget, called to the bar when I was born 1948 (like your construction team worthy of praise. With “photographic memory”, he told me about a client widow who was left impoverished when he did the husband’s estate. Strangely, he told her go through every box..every book. Her husband’s set of National Geographic was his passion. He had put one dollar bill in every single page of every book. Manning told me to check thoroughly. In the basement ceiling joists of the furnace room, I found all the cheques and several newspaper articles about this fraudulent company. “Hym singing Renovators Scam Hamilton Seniors”in an old shoe box, and our police report.

    The lawyer went to court and the lien was dismissed.

  4. James G Jewell

    Thanks DW….

    Appreciate the comments….

  5. “Young men who have completely restored my faith in their generation.”

    Great story James, story with a ‘Happy Ending’! Place looks great!


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