Monday, August 28, 2017

Why Is Design Fee Charged?

I started in this business years ago. Those were the days Home Depot and Lowe's NEVER charged a Design fee. Now they charge $150 just to send someone out for a measure. Why would they switch policies? Thousands, perhaps millions of dollars ( across the country ) have been lost to inaccurate measuring.

As big box retailers began to spring up in America's neighborhoods they were challenged with the task of building a brand homeowners would trust enough to switch from custom cabinet makers and local hardware stores. Free Design was a powerful lure to attract curious customers. This was also beneficial to Home Depot and Lowe's. They needed to train employees to design on CAD ( Computer Assisted Design ) software being launched. The big box retailers did not send their "trainees" to specialized CAD classes or schools. Since "practice makes perfect" ( well, at least hopefully) the more designs each was given to do was seen as great training. This was how most kitchen bath designers began their careers in the late 80's to early 90's. Yes, it is true. Customers would walk in with a piece of notebook paper they sketched a elementary "design" of their current space , with or without measurements and ask you to design a new kitchen for them. We as newbies were happy to do so. We were working our shift and were being paid so why not practice designing. Are you shocked? I am telling the truth. Obviously, this approach was potentially disastrous.

Times have changed thankfully. However, it is important you understand how to determine what is fair and what is not.

Whatever your profession happens to be the truth is, time equals money. Time is the only thing so valuable that it can never be replaced. In the constructions business , especially in the remodeling genre, measurements are critical! Accuracy is key. Why? The answer is 1/8th of an inch can make the difference between the design and cabinets in it fitting your space. Yes, it is that important!

There is some flexibility in new construction because you have more options starting from scratch. You can change the placement of a door, opening, or window in the process of building a new home.
Once a house is built all of those important placements are permanent unless you are replacing a wall for a kitchen or bath addition.

Here at Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath our design fee is the lowest I am personally aware of in the area. It is only $300. It is non refundable yet fully deducted from the cost of your cabinetry if you decide to award your job to us. I have worked for many Remodeling Construction Companies in New England and in California. There are various levels of expertise and design ability represented in this area.  It is critical for a homeowner to do their due diligence and vet the "professionals " they consider possible to award their project to. You can search through this blogs archives to find my articles on the distinctions between various levels of professionals people consider hiring.

The top level is a Design Build Company, which Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath is. We surpass being only a handyman, finish carpenter , or big box retailer that hires outside installers. We are a complete full service soup to nuts approach. Design Build means from the very start until the last moment of your project, we manage every detail for you. You are not spending a minute trying to schedule, find, check on or follow up with a subcontractor. From the Design phase to through the build phase the design and build team are synergistic and connected to ensure excellence with the least possible
stress or inconvenience to the homeowner.

Truthfully, this level of professionalism typically requires a minimum of $2500 to $5000 deposit before the designer even begins working on a design. This is the standard from the Boston Area up to Concord, and the Sea Coasts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. As you can see $300 is very low amount to invest for the time consuming work of  creating a design of your project. For that low fee which will be deducted from your cabinetry you will spend valuable time sharing your dream project with our design and build team experts. The definition of what you envision will be accomplished through questions, measurements, going over ideas you may have collected in your dream folder, views of the design in the showroom with a 3D digital presentation, and some design changes to the project, if you want them. $300 is a nominal fee for the time spent to help you discover exactly what your perfect project is.

We do have another option for clients who are confident they can measure, hand draw, and present us
a plan that will fit the space they have measured themselves based on our Online Option, Measuring Guide.  For only $150 we will take your specific measurements place it in the CAD software for you. We will email you a 360 degree design for you to review. If you are confident it will fit and is your final selection, the pricing will be done and you will meet with the designer for your final acceptance and approval to place the order based on your measurements.

You can check out our two options: The Convenient Online Option or The Full Service Option at

Friday, August 4, 2017

How BUSY Families Find Time to Remodel

Today's family is typically made up of two parents employed full time. Most have lengthy commutes as well. Once the kids come along, parents can feel they are Uber Drivers. That is American life now.
Every member of a family have multiple opportunities to express their talents and interests. All of them require the most important yet limited asset, time.

Like anything there are positives and negatives to how family life is, no matter the generation or time frame. The American dream of owning your own home is still key in our culture. We love our homes. We want to improve the the nest we work hard to buy, own, and maintain. Sometimes, we are fortunate and find the perfect house in the perfect community. However, most find a home they can
turn into the dream home with some patience, TLC, and remodeling projects.

Here we face the time constraint issue square in the face. Few homeowners are prepared for the time and details required to seek the right professional they can trust. Then the appointments that need to be scheduled when both decision makers are available to go to a showroom to discuss their dream project, approve designs, make revisions, and then, start the time eating selection process. It is daunting for a single person. Scheduling a couple with two careers can multiply the complexity.

The traditional full service way remodeling projects have been handled is available. However, for the technically savvy newer generations, we have a wonderful new internet approach. Our clients who buy and do everything on the internet love the Convenient Online Option we offer at Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath. This option saves a minimum of two in showroom appointments required for the normal Full Service Option.

Both options produce excellent results. For clients who trust purchasing online, we have simplified the process by having the homeowner fill out a questionnaire, take pictures of the kitchen or bath and email them to us along with measurements taken by themselves. A design is completed based on the information provided with a very reasonable design fee. We help you select your cabinets. If you want us to bid installation, we will. Or you can DIY or find any contractor you wish.  

We are ready to help you create your dream project. Just go online to to get started.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Make a Dream Home Out of your Current Home

Is your kitchen too small? Are you wanting to transform your small Cape or Ranch Style house to Open Concept? Are you asking, "Is that even possible? The answer is , Yes, it is.

At some point most homeowners end up analyzing the best solution for their living space as their needs shift and change. There are many things to be considered. Some families are completely ready for a complete change, new locale, different style house or perhaps the easier maintenance of owning a condo. Freeing myself from home exterior upkeep, lawn and garden care is tempting at times. Yet, being free to plant your own garden is very nice too. 

All these considerations are especially true of retirees facing whether to stay in their current home or downsize. Once the kids are grown and on their own a smaller living space is possible and easier to clean and maintain. However, those little ones will arrive and we grandparents love the idea of big family times together in our spacious homes. 

So many New England neighborhoods filled with small Capes, Ranch homes, and New Englander's 
were built in the 40s to 60's. The homes were built with a hall connecting to the living areas, bath , and bedrooms. It can feel very confining and closed off. What can you do about that? 

Many options exist. Opening up the wall between the living room and kitchen dining area opens up the house to feel much more spacious. Most likely the wall is a "bearing wall" supporting the second floor. No problem! Once the wall is down, the upper floor can be equally supported by installing a thick beam across the expanse. This beam can become a beautiful wood design element or be hidden
under drywall and painted and sometimes even hidden in the ceiling for a seamless design.

A second option is an addition! Depending on your property , additions can add square feet to make your home wider, deeper or both. Need more storage and closet space. Have you always dreamed of an "en suite" master bath/spa off your Master Bedroom? We can help you design and make selections to enhance your home that make it the dream you've imagined for decades. 

There are endless options! Come talk to us and get started. Get on our calendar so that you can enjoy your new Dream House for years to come!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

" I know what I want! " The Fun yet confusing "Selection" Phase!

It is natural to believe we already know our taste, preferences, and exactly what we want. After all, the first step of any remodeling dream is usually months, perhaps years of wanting and considering all the possibilities. Yes, we, especially us ladies, are very clear on what we like. Right?

When it comes to our home , our nest, it is easy for the woman to assume she will be the decision maker. After all, if it is a kitchen project, she is the queen of that space. Correct? Hold on, maybe not! Many families enjoy the joy of Dad being the chef. It is not the majority of households but is  getting very common. Let me throw you a curve ball! Perhaps, whoever is the person utilizing the kitchen should have their preferences prioritized. What do you think about that?

The reality is the two homeowners plus other older kids or adults, who live in the home, will all have opinions. Each will voice different ideas about what is important to them. This can be the first indication selections may take longer than anticipated.  Each family has to sort out who has the final say. Welcome to the negotiation process of your project.

Being in the remodeling business for two decades has proven to be an opportunity to experience what being a marriage councilor must be like. Once the time has arrived where a couple determines the money is available to begin a project, the personal taste of the two becomes very important. It is common for a husband and wife to come into the showroom with their individual vision for the cabinetry, colors, styles firmly set in their minds.

The moment each begins to touch and consider the door samples often reveals the two visions are very different. I often experience the female longingly focused on painted glazed inset door and drawer cabinet styles. She can see the entire new kitchen in her heart and mind. Her husband seems to be in another world. Perhaps the kitchen he is dreaming of would be perfect in a mountain cabin. Men love wood with texture. The more grain , knots, and rugged appeal the better! Time to sort these choices and decisions out is critical for you. We are committed to helping you make choices you will be happy with for years to come. I think you are getting the picture of how such considerations can impact the date your project will be completed.

I am so proud of you who have started their Design Folder. It is going to help you stay on target better than couples without one. However, other factors that delay the selection process are friends and family. We love to talk to our loved ones about such a great event finally happening. That is an important and smart part of the process. Feedback and questions help you fine tune what the finished project should include. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and find later you left out something you did not know about or consider during the design and selection process. No one can think of it all. Even more true is the fact none of us can typically afford or have the space to include everything available. Choices must be made.

There it is the "C" word, CHOICES!  I do not want to belabor and repeat prior blogs. Just remember the thrill of going to various showrooms to select the cabinets, flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting, tile, and counter tops repeat and multiply possibilities exponentially! The possibilities are unlimited. It is very difficult to stay focused when you are exposed to so many choices.  Be prepared! This is why starting as early as March to May to cook and entertain in your new kitchen this Thanksgiving must be emphasized! We are always here to help!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Choose Wisely

Thank you for being such remarkable customers and clients. We appreciate you trusting us with your home, your family, your pets, and everything important to you. We realize what an honor it is when homeowners award their remodeling or building project to us.

We get excited helping you realize your vision and dream project! The process can take months. After decades of helping families build homes or remodel rooms in homes has given us the opportunity to get to know you. To help improve your life as well as your house is our goal. We are grateful for that and do not take it lightly. We know it is the greatest compliment we receive is when you refer us to a friend or family member. Thank you.

New England is populated so densely with homes built in the 1700's on up to new construction
remodeling construction. The building industry is extremely competitive in New Hampshire. Fortunately, many of our competitors are companies with integrity, great service and skill. However, there are dishonest people taking advantage of homeowners too.

Just today, one of our repeat clients declared why he awards his business to Apple Wood.
Mr. Joe D. of Windham stopped in with his signed contract and check for new project we are building in his beautiful home. As he handed me his paperwork, Joe said, " We are so happy we found Lenny for our remodeling projects! Lenny always treats our home as if it is his own. He does not say anything, but I can see Lenny working to make sure the quality and craftsmanship he utilizes in our home is the same as he would be using if he was remodeling his own."  Wow, what a great compliment! Thank you, Joe!

Do you agree that other than services or care you seek for your body, your home is your most precious possession? Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath professionals are committed to excellence in product and craftsmanship in every project we are awarded.

Often homeowners get so focused on cost alone. Yes, cost is important! However, if it is the only consideration, you may compromise peace of mind and safety in the home. We get so excited we can forget our family, possessions, and pets are all going to be impacted by who we invite into our homes. Always perform due diligence to check the reputation, skill, and honesty of any contractor you allow access to your home. Take this even one step further and ask the General Contractor how well they research the background of the build/install crew hired to work in your home.

Our reputation is impeccable. We value and are very mindful regarding how we care for you and your home. Besides our clients, we have earned the respect of  tradesman, expert craftsman, and the city inspectors sent to make sure all codes are met perfectly.  Finding a reputable remodeling contractor can be daunting.

As a Design Build Company we specialize in "soup to nuts" approach to new home construction as well as remodeling homes. We hold your hand and walk you through every step for months. You do not have to call anyone but us to set everything up and to follow up on the process. Of course, this is specialized and detailed. It is the standard in the industry. It will continue to be. We are here to help you every step of the way through the multiple steps and meetings necessary to cross all the T's and dot all the I's .

You will love working with us as we make your dream home a reality!


Monday, June 5, 2017

The Time is NOW

Early in June seems like a long time away from Thanksgiving and Christmas. The reality is Thanksgiving is only 5 + months away. Why am I even bringing this up?

NOW is the time to contact us to begin the process for any project you want completed by Thanksgiving or Christmas. Yes, I mean it! Year after year clients dreaming of cooking and entertaining their family and friends in their dream kitchen on Thanksgiving are surprised when we tell them it is not possible. We get it. We understand the general public does not realize remodeling is a lengthy endeavor. Perhaps HGTV shows like Fixer Upper, or Flip or Flop reinforce the illusion remodeling is quick. It is not! Why?

To honor our clients and be respectful of their time, we must base our "build and install" calendar on which customer is ready, made all the selection of product, signed a contract and paid to get going.
Someone may come in two or three months earlier to begin the process. Another family may come in with all their decisions settled and ready to sign the contract, which puts them at the top of upcoming build calendar. I think you can understand why even though it may seem unfair based on a first come first served model.

There are many reasons. One of the biggest is the length of time selections take. Let me help you understand. One caveat is, if you have been collecting ideas and keeping them in your design and project folder as we suggest in so many blog posts, you may be very clear on what you want. That can significantly speed up the process. However, the typical homeowner is not aware of the many phases and the options they can choose in each one.

The initial design phase can begin the delay actually. There are many possibilities depending on whether your project include an addition of  square feet to your space. Another factor is optional changes to the current footprint and the placement of cabinets and appliances. Anything is possible really depending on budget and space. Generally, when you see the design completed based on the measurements taken at your home, it sparks questions and your imagination. It is normal to want to make some changes. We generally include simple ones in a second option. However, many times confusion sets in when homeowners see what is possible. Their curiosity and personal creativity can kick in. Even in the very beginning of the process , it  can get complicated. It is important to acquire as many of the dreams you hope for that are possible within your budget. Yet, that can lengthen the design phase considerably.

Once the design is accepted, the selection process begins. Actually this phase is wrought with twists and turns, especially for us gals! It is kind of like shopping for shoes. We know we need some new shoes, so we go shopping. "Oh, my, look at those, and that pair over there! I like both of them , and look over there! I do not think one pair will do, I need more" Sound familiar?  It is so hard to decide because we wonder if we will regret buying one pair over the other. What to do? Wow! This is only for a pair of new shoes and will be repeated often without any real damage to our bank account and home life. Think about the same options and temptations happening as you visit flooring, tile, granite, cabinet, and appliance showrooms! The choices are endless! Very few people have the self confidence or self control to determine quickly what the final decision is. Add the reality of the differing taste and design sense of  you and your spouse. That takes the decision into negotiations. All of  these factors to select each component in your remodeling project dramatically slow the process down.

It is very important to plan for delays and have some wiggle room for the completion time. Remodeling can be a great adventure! It can be fun and exciting. It is also an upset to your family routine. Each member of the family impacted may react uniquely. The outcome will delight you and the pain of it will fade away as you enjoy living your beautiful new space! It will be worth it! Just remember, this is NOT shopping for new shoes, a new outfit, or even new furniture. All of those events happen on a fairly regular basis over the years. Remodeling your home is different. The selections you make are permanent. That means you need to give yourself time be sure of your selections.

We help all of our clients and they appreciate the process and the results. This is what we do best. SO give us a call , we are ready , willing, and able to hold your hand and help you create, design, and build your dream!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Long Weekends

Have you checked out our new addition to our services on our website yet? They will save you time!

What are your plans this weekend? I hope it is for fun. Looks like there is going to be warm sunshine so you'll be enjoying the BBQs , outdoor activities and visiting friends and family. What a great time to share why we are adding our new Online Option for you to use for your project planning!

EVERYONE is TOO busy. I know I am, it is overwhelming, isn't it? How did we get so crazy busy! We have all those time saving appliances, devices, and ways to communicate. Yet, finding extra time in our schedules eludes us more and more. Our sensitivity to this common issue was the incentive to offer an alternate planning protocol for our clients. 

Yes, our traditional Full Service approach is still available to you. However, if coordinating two working schedules or weekend appointments between the kids sports activities is stressing you out, then check out the Online TIME SAVING option. Relax in the comfort of your own home whenever it is convenient. 

We are here to help you whichever track you take. Give us a call if you have any questions! Enjoy the long weekend! Get out there and have some fun!