Q Tell us about your experience in the kitchen and bath design/build field.
A I started this business in 1999 with my partner Chris Spade. I love everything about my job, but the best part is visiting the home after the project is complete and seeing how excited the homeowners are about the outcome. They often tell me their lives have been changed by our work. That makes me feel a bit like an artist.
Q What are the advantages of hiring a design/build firm?
A There are three levels when it comes to remodeling:
• General contractor
• Remodeling company
• Design/build firm
All three are completely different from one another. It’s a different experience. The process is different. And the expectations are different.
This could be your least expensive option, but as the homeowner, you are responsible for the design and selections. This option often comes with surprises requiring change orders which result in additional cost. If your remodel is very simple, for example, you are taking a toilet and vanity out and putting new ones in the exact same position, you don’t need a design/build firm. A contractor can handle this level of work.
A remodeler will be more involved with the process, they might have a designer on board to come up with a layout and select products and finishes. But, unless they are specially trained, any structural reconfigurations will likely be beyond their expertise.
With a design/build firm, the majority of time is spent before the project gets underway. There’s an entire team on staff—ranging from designers, contractors, CAD designers, service technicians, project managers, and even a project engineer. This team works together to plan the minutiae. If walls need to be taken down, soffits removed, windows placed differently, we get that all figured out before we begin any work on site. Everything can be priced out. The client knows the exact design, process, timetable and budget to the penny. There are no surprises thanks to spending all that time and energy up front in the planning stage.
Once everything has been triple checked, we order everything. We accept all deliveries in our warehouse. We inventory everything and inspect for accuracy, damage, quantity, color. Once we have all the components, we get the project scheduled. The entire project is delivered in one delivery and staged from the homeowner’s garage. There’s no waiting. Once we start the project it usually only takes six to eight weeks from start to finish.
Q Is it more expensive to hire a design/build firm?
A Yes. You are paying for all that experience—a strong design, a showroom to help visualize your outcome, up front planning time and a project manager who is on the job every day, overseeing the work and answering any questions the homeowner may have.
Initially it may seem like you are saving money by using a contractor or remodeler, but before you go that route, you should ask them if they supply plans and designs, and a firm budget before giving them a deposit. Quite often, due to a lack of planning, you’ll get charged for change order after change order. In the end, you may end up spending more than if you started with a design/build firm.