FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Any innovative and successful remodeling project requires a group of highly skilled, motivated and dedicated professionals. The Design-Build process brings the entire team of specialists together, working seamlessly and synergistically under one roof, ensuring a more streamlined renovation process—from Concept-to-Completion.
From Day 1, until the very last day of the project, everyone on our team works in tandem. The design team coordinates back and forth with the drafting team to create renderings that accurately reflect the homeowner’s vision. The estimating team is in constant communication with the design team as plans evolve, making sure the client’s needs and desires are managed within the budget. The building team inspects and finalizes every draft for clarity and accuracy. Then, the final stamp of approval is given, ensuring that what has been drawn and priced can and will be delivered—all before the first hammer is swung.
Should I Hire An Architect Before Interviewing Interior Designers? When Does The Builder Come Into The Process?
The traditional method of building and remodeling is usually a disjointed, time-consuming and expensive process. Typically, homeowners are told that the first step is to find an architectural firm. Then, after months of working with an architect, homeowners are told that in order to get an accurate construction bid, they need a comprehensive set of interior design drawings. Upon hiring an interior design team, the homeowner needs to get them up to speed on the previous months of meetings with the architect. The homeowner has to manage the communication between the design and architect teams to ensure that they are working together, connecting the vision, and moving the process along.
At this point, the homeowner still needs a bid from a construction company to establish a working budget. And it’s not until this final step that the reality of the cost and schedule of the project is determined.
When three separate companies are hired to do one project and have not worked together from the beginning, they often have a difficult time getting on the same page. And, when the team isn’t working cohesively, the homeowner is often left out of the loop on critical decision making, scheduling and financial implications, and other critical issues.
We believe the traditional approach to building and remodeling makes the process more frustrating, expensive and time-consuming than it needs to be. With Design-Build, every part of the process is done under one roof, with one point of communication. Our inclusive approach keeps design, price, building scope and
schedule as one, easy to follow process. “All under one roof” means the highest level of quality control and accountability, industrywide.
Estimating the total budget for a remodel or home build is a critical part of the Design-Build method. And for good reason. What good is a set of plans, perfectly drawn and meticulously specified, if the budget is 3x what the homeowner was expecting? Because of this lack of foresight and planning in the beginning phases, many projects never break ground. Our goal is to help our clients actualize their vision and their dream by talking about realistic budgets, early and often. We can change the scope of work, value-engineer floor plans, and reselect products or materials early in the process, all before breaking ground. Everyone is on the same page, every step of the way—no matter what.
Market studies show that working with a Design-Build firm that provides architecture and construction together can deliver: 6.1% lower unit cost; 12.0% faster construction speed; 33.5% faster delivery speed; 5.2% less cost growth; 11.4% less schedule growth. On a $1,000,000 house with a 12-month construction schedule, Design-Build costs $61,000 less, takes 1.5 months less to construct and 6 months less time from initial design contract to completion.
Here is what researchers found when they interviewed clients who used the Design-Build process versus the Traditional method:
“Most Opportunity To Innovate”
When your entire team is working together under one roof, this allows more flexibility and “on the fly” decision making as challenges, changes and obstacles emerge. The build team pushes the design team to understand construction on a deeper level. This makes the designers more knowledgeable and well-rounded, equipping them with both foresight and insight to help give clients sound ideas and innovative solutions. The design team asks that the build staff stay open and flexible, ever willing to push the envelope on what’s possible in construction. While some general contractors can get lazy, our build staff understands the rigors of the design world—fully embracing the challenge to think outside the box.
“Best Ability To Fast Track A Project”
Our goal is to get our clients into production as quickly and efficiently as possible. A lot of architectural design firms stay perpetually in the design phase. Why is this? They do not have an incentive or need to get projects cleared for construction. While we love and enjoy the design process, we understand our client’s goal is to actually live in the home of their dreams, not just see it on paper.
Hiring and coordinating three separate companies (Architect, Interior Design and Construction) to complete a remodeling project or new home build is going to cost more money and require more time than hiring one firm that can do it all.
“Most Able To Deliver Owner Goals And Objectives”
We are especially passionate about this aspect of Design-Build. We listen to our clients. We understand their hopes, dreams, and desires. And we are driven with a laser-sharp focus on bringing their vision to reality. Many design firms push a one-size-fits-all design agenda onto homeowners. Other times, designers focus on their own portfolio, trying to design projects with the intent of getting published instead of truly listening and interpreting the needs of the client.
*FMI 2018 Design-Build Combined Market Study Results
First, we create the existing layout with the corresponding measurements called, as-builds, for the home or yard. This allows us to develop the first set of blueprints. From here, we make floor plans, rooflines, room schemes, and everything else into 3D renderings. This allows clients to “walk through” their new space in 3D to get a real sense of how the space will work and function for them. During this phase, we meet with the design team to choose finish materials, such as plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinets, tile, and flooring. After all of these decisions are finalized, the final stage of this first phase is to establish the working budget. Many companies leave this critical step until the end of the process, or even worse, leave it out altogether. We formulate working budgets right away, giving homeowners all the information needed in order to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
As soon as the design and budget are aligned with the goals and vision of the client, we transition into Phase II, engineering. At this time, all structural implications are calculated and called out. For example, there may be pier footings needed for a concrete subfloor, a steel beam in place of a wood beam, or an extra section of sheer or strong walls may be required. Once we get the engineering reports back, we have a round table discussion with the client to go over any budget adjustments that may be needed and/or required. If something significant is discovered, we want the client to have a chance to think it through and understand the implications before moving forward. If needed, we can change or modify material selection within the floor plans to help cover any cost overruns from engineering. However, major concessions are typically not needed at this phase because of the discovery, forethought, and planning during Phase 1.
Phase III— Construction Documents and Interior Design
At this stage, it’s time to take the design plans and engineering sheets and create a city-ready set of plans and a blueprint perfectly set up for field-level execution. This crucial step sets us apart from other firms, in respect, that we don’t consider a set of plans “complete” until all the necessary information is accounted for. We create plans that encompass every detail of design from the wall tile elevations down to every decorative accent and termination point, flooring legends, cabinetry elevations complete with moldings and decorative enhancements, detailed door and window schedules, plumbing layouts including heights of shower-heads and placements for every bathroom accessory. We know this is excessive, but in order for the build process to go as smoothly as possible for our homeowners, we believe the details are what create the extraordinary.
Our process is tailored to each and every one of our clients. Every homeowner that walks through our door has a unique vision and goal. We have had homeowners come to us with hard deadlines, and we’ve been able to move mountains to help them fast track their design process. Other clients need time to ruminate and think through various options. In this case, we slow down and continue with the drawing process until the client is sparked with inspiration. This is an intensely personal process and we approach it with great respect. Our clients never feel pressure from us to speed it up. Everyone has their own pace—and that’s ok!
Here are some general rules of thumb that we list on every design proposal (so that there are no surprises!):
Interior Remodel & Additions— $105 – $405/sf
New Construction— $350 – $1,000/sf.
Kitchens— $75,000 +
Full Baths—$25,000+ (Master Baths —$55,000 +)
Our philosophy is to talk about the budget—early and often. We want our clients to be pursuing a tangible and attainable goal and not waste time and money on a project that is completely outside of their comfort level. (This approach doesn’t serve anyone, except maybe the ego of a designer or the bank account of an architect). Our clients are given realistic budget facts and figures as early as the initial in-home consultation. By the middle of Phase I (Feasibility), each client receives a working budget, based on their exact floor plan, remodel scope, fixture selection, and material choices. Most architects do not provide this. Most interior designers wait until the end, and even then, only provide material costs. And most builders only know how to advise on labor. Our approach educates clients on the full cost to build—including land improvements when needed, city fees, all design and engineering costs, all materials, and all labor. In short, we equip homeowners with a full, comprehensive understanding of their project, and by working out all of the financial moving parts in the beginning, they are empowered and confident throughout the entire process. Knowledge is power!
We believe that a successful company uses both employees and sub-contractors. Employees embody the essence of any company. We have employees who have been with us for over a decade, and to us, this speaks to continuity, community, and loyalty, all within the framework of business. However, we don’t use an hourly employee to re-pipe a whole house or install an electrical panel upgrade. We use the best, highly trained professionals to execute critical path skilled trades and skilled labor, and subcontractors are the backbone of that commitment to excellence. In the same way that longevity with an employee is a good sign, the same can be said for the builder-subcontractor relationship. Some of our subcontractors have been a part of our team for over a decade, and we are proud of those long-standing relationships. We don’t look through a Rolodex and pick the cheapest sub, or the one who has a schedule opening. We use the same subs on every project to ensure quality, schedule adherence, and consistent job site values.
From the time we break ground on any given project, here are some general rules of thumb:
Bathrooms & Kitchens — 4 – 6 weeks (if major plumbing and/or walls are not being manipulated)
Additions — 3 – 5 months (depending on the size and how much of the existing home is tied-in)
Whole House Renovations — 5 – 7 months (depending on size, scope, structure manipulation, and specialty finishes and/or tie-ins)
New Construction — 12-18 months
It depends. For a whole-house remodel—yes. And this is why scheduling is so important. Proper planning ahead of time can literally cut months off of the build time, which is why the Design-Build model is such a win-win. A company promising to do a remodel for cheaper isn’t always a good value if they are unable to keep a schedule and the homeowner ends up having to rent a space for the extra months. (These are the hidden costs associated with companies that don’t put emphasis on process and planning).
For an isolated room, a kitchen or bath remodel, homeowners can stay in their home. We take every measure to make this experience is as non-invasive and non-disruptive as possible. If that means setting up a kitchen in the garage, creating huge containment areas to control dust and debris, or simply making sure the job site is tidy, we know this process is inconvenient and difficult, and we are here to help ease that stress.
When renovating multiple areas at a time, we discuss the pros and cons with the client regarding the feasibility of staying or leaving the home. We find the solution that works best for them.