Sylvestre Construction and the Covid-19 Virus

Dear friends and clients,

Our world has drastically changed in the past month and keeps changing day by day.

First and foremost, we hope that you and your families are safe and healthy at this time. Please take all the precautions seriously. No one is really sure where, when or what direction the virus will head. Stay in place, wash your hands and maintain a safe distance from other people. I bet you have heard this before…..

I’m sure many of you are wondering what has been happening at Sylvestre Remodeling & Design the past few weeks and what will happen in the weeks ahead. We were very busy working on a number of projects up until about 2 weeks ago. As I reviewed the incoming information on ways to “flatten the curve”, I took the initiative to close down all field operations at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24.

Having my staff working in people’s homes, bringing in subcontractors on a daily basis (from many different jobs and locations), and having the clients and their families home while we were working seemed like too large a risk for all of us. Not having people on-site cuts the chance of transmission of the disease from our staff and our project families to really no risk, and that sounded to me like the best way to flatten the curve – remove the risk of transmission. My clients have agreed and we were able to leave all of them with safe, workable kitchens, laundries and bathrooms.

Three days later, the governor imposed the Stay in Place (SIP) rule.  Remodeling (and construction) were considered essential services, however, based on the information above and again placing workers as well as subcontractors and clients together, the risk seemed too much for our company. My line is that remodelers would be essential to spreading the virus if we continue working in people’s homes. My electrician soon followed with the same plan. Most building permit offices are closed and it is difficult to get on-site inspections to keep work moving forward. I am sure you have heard or seen a number of remodeling projects that are continuing: good for them however I feel we made the right decision for our company and clients.

At this time, my staff is not working. This is a sad and hard reality; I have told them I will reevaluate where we are at the end of April. Let us hope that we have a better idea of the situation at that time.

And the future? We have a number of projects and clients that have called that are ready to proceed with their projects and that are excited about remodeling their homes. I spent the last week working with all of them. We have had virtual meetings, phone calls, and online document work to continue with their projects so they will be ready to go when we get on the safe side of this curve.


In the interest of fun and positive thinking, I wanted to share the latest e-newsletter that my marketing agency – The Rachel Greenhouse Agency – has been sending.

“Rachel Recommends: Your Weekly Seven” is a weekly posting of seven positive goings-on in Minnesota and the world at large. I recommend checking it out – you can sign-up here to have it delivered to your inbox!


What’s on your reading list?

We all have time for some reading, I know I certainly have as of late! Below are the books that I’ve read or are reading that I wanted to recommend for your reading list.

“The Bastard Brigade – Stopping the Nazi Bomb” by Sam Kean

Many books have been written about Germany’s nuclear program during World War II. Some claim that Germany was on the verge of making an atomic bomb when the war ended in 1945; others say that there was only a modest research effort, focused mainly on nuclear reactors and energy. The former is a myth that Sam Kean keeps alive in “The Bastard Brigade”. What Mr. Kean is most interested in is telling stories —especially about those who helped hinder Germany’s progress toward a bomb.

“More Faster Backwards” by Christine Smith

First, I love the title. Who hasn’t said or thought about this concept? Christine and her husband decide to buy, then renovate, an ancient wooden boat to start a new life as a touring boat in Alaska. As with any ‘remodeling” project, they find that this tired, 1929 wooden boat becomes an 8-year project. It’s a really fun read if you like boats, remodeling, and Alaska…or just making a dream come true!

“On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 Years Old” by Hendrik Groen and Hester Velmans

This book follows Groen’s first book which is a diary of the life of an 83-year-old living in a retirement home in the Netherlands. For any of us that are helping older family members, it offers a realistic view of their life through the lens and wry humor of Hendrik Groen. Following the antics of his “old but not dead” club is hilarious.

On Queue-

“The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz” by Erik Larson

“Through the remarkably skillful use of intimate diaries as well as public documents, some newly released, Larson has transformed the well-known record of 12 turbulent months, stretching from May of 1940 through May of 1941, into a book that is fresh, fast and deeply moving. . . . Larson’s deft portraits show the essential connection that words created between the powerful and the powerless, capturing the moments that defined life for millions struggling to survive the decisions of a few.”

—Candice Millard, The New York Times Book Review

Winston Churchill was an epic leader of the British government, especially during the second world war. I wonder how the fear of the constant bombardment of London compares to our current Stay In Place rules: not knowing how long you’ll have to endure, or where the next bomb (or virus in our case) is going to hit… should make for a good read.


What are you up to while the Stay in Place order is in effect?

Send me your photos and stories at what have you been working on during this unique time in our history?


For us, my wife is an epic quilter and she has been working on preparing masks to help all of us brave these times and stay safe.










One of my workshop projects has been this toy for my grandkids. I am just getting started on adding all the switches, doors, hinges and locks, and when my granddaughter Julia came out to the shop, she had to play with it immediately. It is a bus, car, spaceship or monster-chasing vehicle, depending on the driver. Stay tuned!



Recently I saw a number that said 98.54% of us will get through this pandemic. I like to look at those numbers because they remind us that we can all work on the things we can control. The things we can’t control will happen whether or not we worry.

Hopefully, we’ll all be able to spend time together again soon! Again, to all of my friends and clients – stay healthy and safe.

John Sylvestre

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