Pete Olson, founder of PJ Builders, is a man of form, function, and craft. Having studied civil engineering and gained a passion for carpentry, he adds a level of forethought and realism to the logistical navigation associated with general contracting. He’s made a name for himself through his renovations in Old Town, where space and regulatory limitations have led professionals to compare building in the area to building in Manhattan. Additionally, after successfully facing those challenges for years, Olson’s craft and demand for quality shows effortlessly in his new-home builds.
“I’ve always liked working with my hands,” says Olson, who moved to Utah in 1992 and fell in love with the area that same ski season. He began his career working for high-end contractors in neighborhoods like Bald Eagle, Deer Crest, and the Colony. “I learned what it meant to be a top-quality builder, and I bring those skills to all of our projects today, large or small,” he says.
Left: 1.) Before: The Southern Charm home, lifted for rebuilding.
2.-4.) After: The Southern Charm home, finished and ready for comfortable living.
One such large project, an update of a 100-year-old home in Old Town, called for the problem-solving skills of an engineer, the logistical sense of a mathematician, and the design talents of a carpenter. During a process that involved gutting, reframing, and adding a new foundation (which, notably, required stilts), Olson and his team turned a ski bum “slanty shanty” into a classic, spacious abode draped in Southern charm. The final product included a newly opened ceiling plan, trusses hand made on site, exposed steel beams, and wall-less living spaces to make the building light and bright.
“Working on Old Town projects is like being the conductor of an orchestra,” says Olson, who had to manage dozens of different teams on a lot with less than 25 feet of frontage and limited curb space. “I’m one of the guys known for being an expert in Old Town projects. In Old Town, there’s not a point in the process when we’re not trouble-shooting; the level of difficulty is generally an 11 on a scale of one to ten.”
Olson’s experience with navigating dozens of moving parts, while attending to and communicating his clients’ needs, is part of what makes his other work in new-home builds incredibly successful. In one home in Promontory, he worked with the clients and their architects from the beginning to ensure that they could seamlessly navigate the entire building process. “I like to come in early and make it a team project. On the Promontory home, I got to work with the clients from the start, so I was able to answer questions, educate the clients on costs, and help them design a project that would be on budget and bring their vision to fruition.”
In new-home construction, the crew at PJ Builders is proud of their ability to create functional, craft homes, with no headaches. “Most of our clients don’t currently live in Park City, so it’s part of my job to work well from a distance. We’re good at sending progress photos, keeping them in the loop, and making sure that they’re involved in every decision-making process,” says Olson.
In the Second Wind West home, no details go unnoticed. Blond wood and carefully crafted trusses open up the space to allow guests to breathe in and experience the effect of intricate design.
While remodels have old problems built into them, PJ Builders can troubleshoot issues before they happen, making for a smooth and enjoyable building process. Olson adds, “From start to finish, I want to make sure that a home functions well, down to the tiny details. It must function in a low-maintenance, easy way.”
Having been a carpenter himself, Olson boasts skills beyond that of most other general contractors. He has a taste for quality, alongside the know-how for coordination. “I will help you with all of the decisions, just please don’t ask me to pick the paint color,” he jokes. “But I can promise that I’ll make sure that every wall is painted well.”
After a career of practical problem-solving and producing beautiful final products, Olson loves the opportunity to build from scratch. He looks forward to continuing to innovate, team-build, and construct in the amazing place that he, too, calls home.